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Gary May

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When it comes to the 'new age' of Internet existence for your business, it is important that you appear as good as possible when people find you online. When it comes to reputation, shoppers want to know what your customers say rather than what you say. They want to have transparency in inventory, see the actual cars and features. Online visitors want to know what you'll do for them, to understand how you work, dealership history, who makes up the team, what specials they can get and so much more.

So hop to it...get your blog entries published, inventory fixed, Twitter your specials, text your new inventory, moderate the discussion for your local enthusiast group's site, shoot videos of your CPO vehicles and stream them on your site and push them onto YouTube, get all of your clients to write online testimonials and refresh your website's content monthly and SEO every quarter (if not monthly). Done! Oops...not yet...sell 50 cars a month via the web while you're at it.

Stop the press! We've only be gathering email addresses regularly for a year? We haven't gotten our customers' cell phone numbers and carriers to message them? Nobody has been putting the most valuable client information in the CRM? How do 50% of our leads fall through the cracks, how do you truly track them? And why does the factory blind shop us 10 times a month? Hold on...how do you ask a customer to write an online recommendation? Where do I even send them?

OK, that may be a little tongue and cheek but it's not too far off for many dealers today. So how do you start from zero and get up to 75 immediately on the information superhighway? The best recommendation I can provide here is...act like a customer! What do your customers talk about more and ask from you daily? Consider that one of, if not the greatest influence on consumers is search.

Fact is that you have no choice but to trust more people with your dealership than ever before: vendors, customers and employees. Things are changing at breakneck speed with technology, social media and engagement. One bad customer experience written online may not ruin you overnight but it will affect people's opinion and become pervasive if not offset by more positive assertions.

Make it a goal in January to spread the online responsibilities among all of your front-end staff. Get your people comfortable with your online existence and build your brand, reach and reputation. Become a truly trusted brand with the best advocates out there. Your option is having someone else beat you to it.

It starts with one thing at a time, just do it all at once.

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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