July 2010, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Let Me Count The Ways
The Internet is the greatest invention since, well, ever! I don’t know how we as a society ever survived without it. When it comes to buy here pay here, not taking advantage of this wondrous tool will almost ensure a short and lackluster future in our industry.
Let’s start with an issue that is near and dear to all of our hearts: inventory acquisition. With overall availability approaching scary levels, there is no better way than the Internet to research what is actually available—not just in your local area, but nationwide as well.
Currently, all major auction operators offer the ability to purchase online. Back in the day, we had to travel hours and sometimes days to auctions to find vehicles. Now we can do it from the comfort of an office or even home—saving not only valuable time, but saving even more valuable money.
Now, I know what you’re saying. You need to see, sit in and start a car before you can effectively buy a car for BHPH. Of all the dealers I have the pleasure of working with, most are currently purchasing a portion of their inventory online with little to no issues with the quality upon arrival. The auctions are providing very in-depth condition reports and numerous pictures to better enable you to make your buying decision. Is it foolproof? Of course not, but neither are seeing, sitting in and starting it. We’ve all had one that didn’t make it back from the auction after we personally checked it out.
On a local level, craigslist and eBay are becoming sources for inventory. Listings are not only from a private owners; some dealers and wholesalers are using these avenues to market their vehicles as well. Is it a resource that will fill your stocking needs? Depending on your needs, possibly, but more than likely, it will help fill in what auctions and wholesalers can’t provide.
Also a little closer to home would be the online edition of your local newspaper. There are always ads in the classified section from private owners wanting to sell their vehicles. In the past, private owners collectively haven’t been a very good source. They either owed too much on their vehicles or simply wanted too much for them. With the current economic conditions, these same owners are now needing to sell their vehicles just to make ends meet.
We can no longer pass up any inventory opportunities, and the best way to maximize these opportunities is with the use of the Internet. It saves valuable time and money.
There are many reasons BHPH dealers love the Internet. The first that comes to mind is obviously collections. With over 250 million unique users every month, Facebook and My Space (none of which existed eight years ago) have become some of the best skip-tracing sites out there, and the list of Web sites that help with skip tracing seems to be growing as well. I just wish more were free.
Another way BHPH dealers love the Internet is it allows us to advertise and market for little or nothing via a Web site, especially to the new credit-crunch customer. This is the customer who was bankable just a few years ago, but has now become unbankable due to the economy. This customer more than likely bought their last vehicle after some extensive online shopping and will do the same again. Having an effective Web site will be paramount to landing these customers.
And lastly, we love the Internet just for its old-fashioned, overall effectiveness. The days of multiple phone calls and faxes to order and/or purchase something as mundane as office supplies are fading into the technological sunset. With the cost of access shrinking and speeds increasing, it can’t help but make your overall operation more effective and profitable.
Sliced bread? Good. Indoor plumbing? Definite bonus. Internet? The key to success for today’s BHPH dealer.
Vol. 7, Issue 5