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If you spend enough time in any industry, you will see the emergence and maturity of many new elements. In Automotive Retail, these elements start off slowly, taking years to mature, then all at once, “Pop!”, they reveal their true potential and the world changes! Classified Listings are the latest great example of a sector within Automotive Retail that has been building for years, and is now Coming of Age.
The buzz around the internet in the last 24 hours has been about some classified services moving from a ‘Free’ to ‘Pay Per Ad’ model. What the casual observer may have missed is the migration going on in the background. Classified services now offer their user the ability to exclusively search Dealer listings, along with more advanced search tools, and many other background processes needed to accommodate automotive specific displays for their visitors. Bottom line: the classified listing market is making major investments to meet the needs and demands of their exponentially growing user base.
Do you remember the early days of internet sales in the 1990’s? Several national web sites burst on the scene allowing customers to search inventory from many different dealerships. These sites were free to the dealer. In many cases, dealers didn’t even know their inventory was online until the phone started ringing. In most cases, the data on these national listing sites came directly from the dealer’s accounting system. At that time this meant, wrong prices, incorrect miles, no color, and no descriptions, all resulting in scads of phone calls between frustrated customers and sales people. Around 2000, these national sites reacted in response to consumer feedback by giving the dealer the ability to add photos, modify prices, colors, etc and in general clean up their listing displays. These enhancements came with a cost to the dealer in the form of monthly subscription fees. Dealers didn’t like it. Many stopped using the services. But ambitious dealers did it and realized a greater volume of leads, more sales, and higher profits; all of which more than offset the cost. Does this sound familiar to you?
As classified sites move to monazite the dealer side of things, we all win. Sure people grumble about the added cost, but compared to the mega sites that are quickly following the way of newspapers (and frankly are just as expensive to advertise on), the ROI at current lead volume is still an amazing value for the money. Here’s the kicker, lead volume and quality is only going to improve, and with less effort! The ‘Pay Per Ad’ model is the perfect solution to so many problems with classified web sites. This approach eliminates spamming, duplicate listings, and naturally cleanses the site providing more exposure for dealers who play by the rules. Leveling this playing field means better exposure, more click-throughs, and greater sales opportunities. This all translates to a more qualified buyer, who found what they wanted with less frustration, and is ready to buy!
The future looks bright for classified listing sites and the dealers that choose to work with their approach. Classified sites, by design, are far more localized than national sites can ever be. Like Social Media 5 years ago, we are just beginning to scratch the surface on how classified listing sites can, and will, improve location awareness, customer relations, and the bottom line of those enterprising dealers.