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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jim Bell

Jim Bell Performance Manager

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What's Your Website Call to Action?

What is your call to action on your website? Hopefully, there are a few of them on your home page and also on your inner pages within your website. I have looked at hundreds of websites and thousands of pages in the automotive industry, and there are a few things that are common among all of them. But there are some that stand out more than others just because of the dealerships' call to action on the site. It made me want to click more and more, and even give some of my information, well, some of my mystery shopping information.

Trade In Apprasal Tool

About every dealership had some type of appraisal tool within their website. The most common ones seemed to be Blackbook, KBB, and Autotrader Trade-In Market Place. There are some pros and cons to all of them. Of course, you will always have the customer say that the figure is too low.

With Autotrader TIM, the one drawback that I saw was the number that was given. Yes, it is great that the figure is guaranteed by Autotrader, but if it is too low, the customer won't even respond to a phone call or an email wanting to acquire their vehicle. Autotrader says that it is a way to acquire inventory, but it is difficult to get a customer on the phone or via email because the number may be too low for them and they may feel offended by the offer made by Autotrader, not the dealership. Another con is that it can be time consuming for the customer with all of the information that they have to put in the computer just to get the figure. The pro is obviously that the price is guaranteed by them. If you as the dealer don't want the vehicle, take it to the designated auction and get your money back. Also, customer service is great with the Trade-in market place. They are fast on making any adjustments if needed on the phone with you as the dealership.

With KBB, it is a well known name and is where everyone has been trained to go in the past 10 plus years to get a trade in value. Their reputation has been good in the industry and according to KBB, they have 14-16  million hits to their site a month. I have no idea how many trade values are made, but I would guess that a large portion of the 14-16 million do a trade evaluation. The cons is that the customer always thinks that their vehicle is in excellent condition when they need 4 tires, and all of their services up to speed. It is easy to overcome with a customer just by going to their website and going to the condition examples.

Blackbook is the last common tool. When doing a trade appraisal with that tool, it will give you a $1000-$2500 range on the vehicle depending on how you have it set up. The one thing that I like about that is that it gives a range. That give the customer an idea on their trade, but to get a really firm number, they have to come in and have the used car manager look at it to put a firm number on it. You can also set the values to be from rough to average, average to clean, etc. I haven't really found any cons with Blackbook. Their numbers are generally pretty accurate.

Social Network Buttons

Social networking is here and now and it is here to stay so you better get with the program. There are some things that you have to watch when putting buttons to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog on your homepage. Yes, it is great to have them there so your customer can connect with you on another level. The thing that you have to be careful about is taking them off your website by click of the mouse. You spend all kinds of money in your digital marketing to get them to your website and they click on your Facebook button, it takes you your facebook page, then they can start playing on Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. and not make it back to your website to do what they originally were there for.  The same thing can happen with your Twitter, YouTube and your blog.  They may never make it back to your site.

Prominent Specials

Make sure that your specials are prominent.  If you don't have them on your website, get them there.  That should be the second most visited page within your website.  Also, be sure that they are current and coincide with any Manufacturer incentives so you don't confuse the public.  If you have something special, put it on there and differentiate yourself from the other dealers.  (Consult your advertising guidelines with the Manufacturer.)  Make sure that you have not only Sales, but specials for your Fixed Operations. 

Credit Application

Your online credit application should be easy to navigate and easy to put the information in.  Also, make sure that you are abiding by all of the new Red Flag rules so you aren't in violation with the laws that were put in place the end of last year.  Also, when the lead comes into the CRM, make sure that they right people within the dealership have access to the information. 

Phone Numbers

Most website traffic to your site is just to get a phone number to contact the dealership.  Make sure that it is in a prominent location on the page.  Generally in the upper banner portion of the page is the best place.  There have been sites that didn't have a phone number on the front page at all.  I would have to dig into the different pages to find it.  Also, if possible, put different tracking numbers when coming from different sources (consult your website provider).


Chat is an up and coming product in the automotive industry.  More and more dealerships are starting to utilize it.  If you don't feel comfortable in doing the chat yourself, you can have it outsourced to a company and they will do what they are best at.  I have seen conversion rates go up 1%-3% as a result of having chat.  If someone is in their cubicle at work and can't make personal calls, they have another option of connecting with the dealership through chat to ask questions.

If you have all or just a majority of these item on your homepage, you will be at the conversion rates that you need to be at to be successful.  The benchmark that each dealer should be at is between 7%-10% for fixed operations and 2%-4% for sales.  This includes all leads submitted, appointments, chats, and trackable phone calls.  If you have these items in place, you should be in that percentage range and it will make you successful.

Dennis Galbraith
Great list Jim! The five ways shoppers transition from the technological touchpoints online to a human touchpoint with someone at or related to the store are email, phone, chat, video chat, and walking in. Video chat is on its way, but rightly not a part of your current list. The thing I'd add importance to is facilitating the shopper's ability to walk into the store unannounced. The address, map, and directions are more important than ever, because consumers are expanding their shopping radius. Encouraging the shopper to print the vehicle details page with the location information gets them to take a positive step toward a human interaction, making them more likely to follow through. I understand all the debate about ISMs not getting credit for walk-in traffic, but from a GM's perspective it's all sales and it should all be facilitated fully from the website.

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