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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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CDK Global

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According to comScore, Inc., 63.2 million people accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, and 22.4 million (35%) did so daily, more than double the size of the audience last year. 

In a statement earlier this year, Mark Donovan, senior vice president, mobile, comScore, said “[The] use of mobile Internet has evolved from an occasional activity to being a daily part of people's lives. This underscores the growing importance of the mobile medium to access time-sensitive and utilitarian information."  

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), nearly 15% of all U.S. households were wireless-only in 2007. In addition, wireless-only adults made up 13.7% of the population. The NCHS is still calculating data for 2008, but, wireless-only households were up to 17.5% of the total in the first half of the year, and adults using only mobiles crept up to 16.1% during the same time period.

 

How Mobile Works 

When a consumer arrives at a dealer’s website, the system detects which browser and operating system the consumer is using. When a supported mobile device is detected, a mobile optimized version of the website is presented (Cobalt Mobile uses the same URL, no redirect to another URL is needed). It is important to recognize that a consumer will use a dealer’s mobile site for very low funnel activities, such as maps and directions, inventory search, vehicle details and to place a call to a dealer. The mobile shopper tends to be ready to engage with the dealer, therefore it is key for a mobile optimized website, like Cobalt Mobile, be task focused – allowing consumers to quickly access the dealer’s entire inventory, get vehicle details and photos, get hours and location, receive turn-by-turn directions to the dealership, or place a call with a single click. The buttons and presentation should be optimized for the smaller screens and consumers’ fingers – with no forms, no dialing, just a highly interactive, one touch interface to help eliminate frustration for the consumer and reduce delays in getting them the information they need.  

 

Why Cobalt Focused on Mobile

More and more consumers are viewing mobile Internet access as a necessity rather than a luxury and it is becoming more important to extend the online consumer automotive shopping experience to mobile devices. In fact, J. D. Power & Associates reports that annual sales of smart phones are predicted to reach 300 million by 2013 – an increase of 95 percent.

Cobalt based our mobile solution on the data and patterns we detected from our 15 years experience, our install base of over 10,000 dealer websites, extensive usability testing and by studying best practices of mobile sites across other industries. We know the behavior of consumers and what tasks they engage in as they get closer in the buying process to actually making a purchase. In developing our mobile solution, we focused on these buying behaviors and key tasks to optimize the consumers experience for the smaller display and interface of mobile devices.  

For a dealer, a mobile solution needs to be simple – no additional websites to setup and manage; no additional inventory tools to learn, and no new URLs to market. With the Cobalt solution, without any changes, a dealer’s website gets extended effortlessly to mobile devices – optimized “on the fly” to ensure the consumer experience is consistent and seamless. Consumers view the same photos, inventory and pricing as they would on the dealer’s traditional site, however the information is presented in a format that is optimized for mobile devices. Some of the information is filtered; other information is formatted into bite size chunks that bring the most important pieces of data and calls-to-action to the consumer as quickly as possible. All of the key buying tasks are carried over from the website to the mobile device, including access to the dealer’s new, used and certified inventory; accurate inventory pricing and specials; and dealer hours, location and directions. Using a service like Cobalt Mobile, means all of these tasks can be performed with no typing whatsoever – everything from making the call to the dealer to getting directions is point and click. (Cobalt’s solution works with Google’s mapping application for best of breed mapping capability – no typing in addresses; access to Google features such as directions, traffic, etc. As Google maps gets better, that progress is passed on to the consumer).

During our recent pilot of Cobalt Mobile we found that Cobalt Mobile users are nearly three times more likely to click-through to an Hours and Directions page than Internet shoppers using a standard dealer website.

 

Consumer story

Picture yourself – it is Saturday afternoon and you are out running errands and have a few extra hours of free time. For the last few weeks you’ve been researching vehicles you like online and you’re pretty close to making your purchase. Last night you found a dealer with several cars you were interested in and you decided to visit the dealer, but you are out without any of the information you wrote down the night before. With mobile access, you pick up your iPhone and view the dealer’s mobile-optimized website, allowing you to continue your research and shopping. The interface is clean and easy to use – buttons are big and spaced to prevent fat fingering; there is absolutely no typing required – all you do is point and click. The content is consistent with what you saw the night before on the dealer website. You quickly search for the type of vehicles you’re interested in and see current inventory with up-to-date pricing. You find a car you’re interested in; you review the specs which are provided in bite-sized pieces. You view some photos and review the details of the special pricing for this vehicle. Now you have enough information and you are ready to contact the dealership – one click and now you’re talking to the sales person to setup a test drive. The experience was seamless from the website, to your mobile device, to contacting the dealership.

To learn more about Cobalt Mobile please call 800-909-8244 or visit www.cobalt.com/mobile.

James Ziegler
Hello Bart, You are absolutely correct on every point...AND...the walk-around and the demo drive are not optional BECAUSE this is when the customer disengages their logical mind and gets into their visual and emotional mind...and it's those frames of mind where gross happens. JIM
Timothy Burns
This is Great advice. I, for one, often start moving faster than I should when I have a customer. This article reminded me that if I slow down my sales will go up. I will concentrate on giving the best presentation to every person I have an opportunity to speak with and I am confident that my sales will increase. Thank you for the timely advice Bart. I liked the part about how if they see, hear, and touch the chances for a sale increase. We need to play the percentages now more than ever! Timothy Burns
Bart Wilson
You are right. Here is the problem: You can sell a car without a walkaround. I think this causes us to skip this step. There aren't may other businesses that will let you keep your job if you skip steps. The french fry cook at McDonalds can't skip steps. Right now we need to look at our basic processes and remember that they exist for a reason. The walkaround will lead to higher gross. It will lead to better numbers.
Jim Chamberlain
Everybody is right but the problem is bigger. You can still sell a car with almost any part of the "presentation" missing and even with more than one part missing. But you can't sell a LOT of cars with ANY part missing. You can't build a strong customer relationship. You won't have a measurable process. You won't know why your sales numbers are not meeting your expectations. You'll be flying by the seat of your pants. I agree that we have to get back to the "basics". The problem I have is that we have to get "BACK TO THE BASICS". The fact that we are having this conversation means some sales people are not doing their job and some managers are not managing their staff or process. Train, train and train the sales staff, F&I staff, Managers, everyone that has any contact with the customer or vehicle during the sales process. If they won't or can't follow the requires steps in your sales process, replace them. Stop accepting poor performance. You can't afford it any more. Instead of going back to the basic steps we should be moving forward by improving the processes.
Bart Wilson
I couldn't agree more. Accountability for training needs to start at the top.

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