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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Eric Gidney, AutoUpLinkUSA PA NJ DE

Eric Gidney, AutoUpLinkUSA PA NJ DE President/CEO

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As I scanned through my local Sunday paper (yes I am one of the few remaining newspaper readers) I decided to hit the automotive section. It sure was thin compared to what it used to be. I remember in 1996 when I first got into the automotive business it would be at least 5-6 sections...some almost 18 pages thick...filled with ads. Today it was 2 sections, maybe 6 pages each. But I didnt bring this topic up to discuss dwindling readership and the decline of the automotive newspaper ad. What I did want to bring up was the ads themselves. Not one ad in the newspaper read "Currently there are no specials available, please check back later."

It really is a shame that too many dealer websites are guilty of this. I think back to that Sunday paper and the hundreds of inserts and coupons that are in there (really its the only reason we even get the newspaper). All those specials...just an incentive to get us the consumer to purchase or at least consider their products. Internet Specials is one of the highest clicked links on any dealership website. I would guess that it is at least the second or third most visited page, probably right behind vehicle inventory but well ahead of service and parts. But it is by far the least utilized and maintained.

I evaluated some dealer websites recently. Of the 50 sites that I visited, less than 15 of the sites even had any specials. A few sites didnt even have a section for internet specials. Basically 70% of the dealership websites had no specials listed. A lot of these dealerships have never had them listed. Even on some third party sites such as AutoTrader.com that have a specials section for dealers the statistic was closer to 90% of all dealers having no specials listed at all.

Some reports have as much as 80% of all car buyers utilizing the internet before and during their purchase window. These buyers have told us they want specials. Sure the "internet consumer" wants to beat you up and haggle over everything. To counter this just make sure you have specials that have something for everyone. Dont just list one car that was $7995 and is now $6995. Does this ever really work???

Here are a few suggestions for specials on your website:

1- Wholesale vehicles- a 1997 Honda Accord with a trillion miles will be bought. Dont send it to the auction. Have a special for a "vehicle under $1000" or even "cars under $5000" sections right on your homepage.

2- Grounded demos- quite a few of our clients now have us photograph grounded demos for them. They get great response on them (especially on Cars.com and AutoTrader.com) because consumers see the value. Most consumers still view demo vehicles as offering big savings. Have them included into your own website.

3- A car of the week- there was a local dealer that used to display one used car at his dealership right upfront...by the road...by itself. The sign next to it would have the current price, and that the price would be lowered every day $100 until the car was sold. I love the idea...especially if you put it right on your website homepage. What a great way to drive more traffic to your website. If you still do some print advertising, this is a great promotion to advertise and drive the traffic to your site to see the vehicle and its current price.

There are quite a few other specials that can be done for your website. Work trucks, specialty vehicles like tuner cars etc., even consignment vehicles. A lot of dealers do not even have the current national rebates and incentives listed. I know it can be a lot of work, but you have to have internet specials! Consumers want them, and it will sell cars!

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