New Inventory photos - best practices

Rico Olinger
I work at a dealership with approximately 1000 pieces of new inventory and would like to know if anyone here has a magic formula that works at your dealership for having the VDP display the real photos of the vehicle as opposed to stock images. I employ a full time vehicle merchandiser but she mostly works with pre-owned vehicles. One idea I had was to get our PDI mechanics to snap photos of the inventory after the pdi is done and another option was two hire 1-2 more merchandisers to work in the new inventory. Once I figure out the logistics, my next question is in regards to the photos themselves. I am partial to a regular set of photos without any post editing whereas the Dealer Principal likes either the "superimposed" car with dealership in the background look and/or the logo and contact info on each photo approach. Either one of those requires time with editing software. So I guess what I am asking for is... what do you do at your dealership and how is it working for you? Thanks!
Jillian Marchewka
My store is a Pre-Owned Dealership with about 125 units total on the lot... I am in charge of all vehicle merchandising online... We have a "photo area" out front of our dealership that is very aesthetically pleasing, and then we do a "car conga" so that every car has the same background. Then afterwards I run all of the pictures through a free open source bulk editor to add an overlay with our dealership logo and info on it. I use a DSLR, which provides a much better picture than many Point and Shoot Cameras I've used in the past. Also, I really prefer natural outdoor lighting as opposed to indoor "photo booth" lighting because I think that it accurately portrays how the vehicle is going to really look in someone's driveway. I am also really picky when it comes to photo angle continuity... I hate when dealerships have multiple people taking pictures, and their "money shot" angles are all over the place. It kills me looking at a website when all of the vehicles look like they were haphazardly shot by a Lot Kid after the car went through recon. With me and 3-4 Sales Consultants/Lot Jockeys helping move vehciles, we can easily do 20-25 vehicles in 1 hour if need be, though it never gets to this point, because I take pictures almost immediately after cars are detailed and ready for the lot (this does not include walk around video though, which we do separately.)
Jillian Marchewka
Also, may I note that my bulk editor takes like 15 seconds to do hundreds of pictures (re-sizing and imposing our dealership overlay...) I know that some Inventory Management Vendors have automatic overlay functions too!
Rico Olinger
Hi Jillian, thanks for your reply... We also do the "car conga" in front of our store but it isn't feasible for our 1000 pieces of new inventory. I guess I need to be looking at a compromise with the DP, after all he signs my cheques and if he wants branding on the images, that's what I'll have to do. Out of curiosity, which bulk editor do you use at your store? I looked at your pics and they are quite nice! I like your overlay compared to some other examples I've been looking at.. Thanks!
Jesse Peterson
We have a near perfect process. Once it's PDI'ed it goes to recon (or whatever you call it at your store). Our recon dept is 4 bays, the 4th being the photo booth. Once it gets cleaned inside and out it moves to the photo booth where there are 3 people trained to take pics. For the most part they do it the same. I'm 80% happy with the work they do but I am hard to please so that's not bad. Rarely does one sneak through without getting pics. The only way it happens is if a salesman shows it right away or something and puts it on the lot or something. If you look at my website it shows about 120 new vehicles without pictures, but that's all inbound inventory. That's something ford direct does if you want them to. One cool thing we do with those inbound ones is we price them. I've still never seen that at another store.
Karen Ann
Timely article on Jalopnik today... a bit tongue in cheek, but spot on!

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