Article

Five Tips for a Stronger Dealership Website

July 2011, Auto Dealer Monthly - WebXclusive

by Allen Dobbins - Also by this author


Recently, an acquaintance of mine took his car to a local mechanic to have the fuel pump repaired. The establishment decided to use refurbished parts from a junkyard instead of new parts because it was cheaper. A few months later, his car broke down and he had to pay an additional $1,700 to fix it. Being 2011, he immediately got on Facebook to express his frustrations and warn his friends about this underhanded mechanic.

Social media plays as much of a role in your business as your website. In this day and age, we rarely purchase anything, try new restaurants or see new movies without asking our friends on Facebook or Twitter for their opinions or surfing the Web for reviews. It is imperative that you maintain a positive brand on the Internet. We all know that one bad review from someone we trust will influence the decision about whether or not to spend our hard-earned money.

At this point, we cannot ignore the reality that having a strong Web presence is as important as having a quality product. I personally am more likely to buy something from a store that does not have a website than from a store with a bad website. These tips will help you to ensure that your presence is not only strong but also appealing.

1. Don’t be fooled by the $1 solid gold watch.
The old saying is true. You have to spend money to make money. I am not suggesting that you take out a loan to have a website designed. I am saying do your homework. Look at your direct competition. You want your site to be well designed and well maintained. You can’t stand out in your industry if your site looks like everyone else’s. There are several “design” companies that offer a cheap website for your business, but that is exactly what you will end up with.

2. Bad spellers of the world untie!
This may seem like a small thing, but the spelling and grammar of your content is vital. Any misspelled word will be a red flag to customers. It suggests a lack of intelligence, interest and professionalism. Hire a copywriter to review your entire site before you go live. Do not allow your website to be a joke. When potential clients visit your site, it’s like they are essentially visiting your store. You must make a great first impression.

3. Who are you?
Your brand should be clear. Your logo and corporate colors should be represented. Customers should know it is you. If your colors are blue and green, why is your website red and white? Also, make sure that your contact information is clearly placed and available on every page of your website. Don’t make prospective clients search for it. Trust me, they won’t.

4. Just give the facts.
Don’t clutter your site with superfluous information. Look at the content from a consumer prospective. Does the information have any effect on the success of your product? It’s great that you have a dog named Max, but that does not really make me want to buy a car from you. Make sure that the information is cleanly presented. Don’t squeeze content that should fill two pages on one. You have a website not a webpage.

5. Have an objective.
What’s the objective of your website? In our industry, the objective of most websites is to get a prospect to view your inventory, complete a credit application, come to your location and drive away with a car. Does your website cause these to be the next steps? Do you have chat pop-ups so prospects can instantly communicate with salespeople? Use your website as a sales tool. If you don’t, your competitors will benefit!

The Internet is here, and it is not going to go away, but if you don’t have a quality Web presence, your business just might.

Vol. 8, Issue 5

Comment

  1. 1. Peter Kahn [ August 23, 2011 @ 11:01AM ]

    Good content but I am going to take issue with one or two points here. First, poor Max the dog; Yes, a fair number of your customers aren't interested in Max but there are more than a few dog or cat lovers in the world who find Max the dog or Felix the cat just endearing. Just put these relationship examples on the appropriate page. "Meet Our Team" could work just fine.
    Second, while it may be desirable for you route your customers to the Credit App form after viewing inventory, it ain't gonna happen. Move them from inventory to "Schedule a Test Drive" and results will be more fruitful.

  2. 2. Rusty Platt [ August 23, 2011 @ 11:57AM ]

    Allen,

    I wanted to chime in because we actually have a product that consumer's and dealers will embrace. We actually allow the consumer to stay engaged on the dealer's inventory by allowing them to get "PreQualified" payments based on their actual credit without requiring SS#,D.O.B., or personal sensitive information. The old days of the "credit app." requirement in order to get information are gone. We are completely consumer focused while allowing the dealer to engage and convert. Over 90% of all consumers are "payment buyers". Give them real payments and you will get real buyers.

 

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