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If your dealership hasn't figured out what to do in the weakest car market in decades, look no further than your internal process to maximize the power of the interweb's reach.
The lastest JD Power data indicates that 75% of consumers begin their research online. This is up 5% points over last year. If 3/4's of your potential shoppers are online, why isn't the same percentage of your "reduced external marketing dollars" being used to capture this audience? Here is a "simple solution" to put into action.
Advertise online with the big Indpendent sites(Edmunds-Kbb-Autotrader-Cars.com). Optimize your website so it's prominently and positively featured on the search engines(Impact Auto Media). Make sure its easy to navigate-engaging -measurable and MOBILE FRIENDLY. Ensure there are multiple photos of every car in your inventory-new and used. Make sure you export your inventory to the various free classified sites and ensure the process is updated daily.
Train every member of your staff to understand the importance of your website. Teach them to constantly refer to it when speaking with customers and clients. Reward them when they capture people's email addresses. Use them to re-market to every single one of the people who transact with you-from the new car purchase all the way down to the consumer who buys Oil from your parts dept. Reach out to everybody in your CRM database with bi-monthly emails notifying them of the specials and current offers at your store?
You can do all of these things for less than $15k/mo. If you are a real Web 3.0 Ninja, you could probably reduce this to $10k. In recessionary times, doing these things will not only allow you to survive but potentially thrive.
Make it happen!