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So how is your 2011 ending up for you? Did you get to where you want to be in sales objectives? Did you hit your goals for the different internet sales teams, sales departments, or the BDC?
Over the last several months, I have heard from several dealerships from around the country that their internet leads seem to be down. Sales seem to be up, but not the leads. I have heard some dealers being somewhere around 10, 20, and upwards of 30% down from where they are "normally" are with their leads. Yes, leads may be down, but is your floor traffic down?
As you are looking at your 2012 advertising budgets, this is something to consider. I was doing a little research within our back end tools that we have available to us from cars.com and Autotrader. I came across a report that was intriguing to say the least. It is the "Sold Inventory Report." Some of this may connect the dots with your sales. Here is what I found within our report. Of the last 64 sales, only 7 had done a 'used car e-mail quote, 16 viewed a map to the dealership, 20 clicked through to the dealership website, and 5 printed details on our vehicles. Can we credit all of these sales to cars.com? Probably not, but it definitely connects some of the dots and may be a result of the 'walk-in traffic' that you may be seeing in your dealership.
So this will bring me to the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Yes, there has been a lot of rumblings going on different forums in the last week, but I will say that without having full descriptions, multiple photos (minimum of 18 on every vehicle), and reviews, you may not be seeing these types of results. If you are doing all of the right things with all of the above, hopefully you are seeing results similar to this.
When you put some of the third party sources, specifically classified listings, under the microscope, something that you may want to consider is the cost per VDP and not so much heavily on the cost per lead and sale. Try and get that cost as low as possible. I know that I am always shooting for less than a dollar per VDP. These third parties are generating floor traffic whether you know it or not. We all hear time and time again that Autotrader and Cars.com are your new newspaper ads and I really do think that they are. My philosophy that leads are on the decline as dealers are having to be more transparent and get on the internet with their photos, descriptions, carfaxes/autochecks, and pricing policies. If you aren't watching what the market is doing on a particular vehicle and shooting from the hip, you just may see that vehicle start to age on you. If you aren't using a tool like vAuto or VIN's product, you may want to make sure that you are doing your research. This will only help you in keeping your VDPs at the maximum viewing capability and getting the most out of your online marketing with those third party sources.
What are your thoughts on the lead volumes?