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Phil DuPree

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Top Ten Tips From “The Best” at Digital Dealer


In October, we facilitated a panel called “The Five Things in Common That Successful Internet Departments Share” at the 13th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas. We were thrilled to have over 200 attendees and want to thank our panelists for doing a great job. We decided to share some tips from our panelists for the benefit of all who couldn’t make it to the conference in hopes that you’ll find it as helpful as the attendees did.


Our panelists included:

- Greg Coleman, Director of Business Development & E-Commerce Director, Lexus Store of Lexington & Toyota of Nicholasville

- Justin Brun, E-Commerce Manager, Acton Toyota of Littleton

- Richard Tolsma, Internet Manager, Dan Wiebold Ford, Idaho

- Ray Fenster, President & CEO,, LLC

- Dennis Colome, Vice President Sales & Marketing, eXteres Auto


Here’s a summary of some tips from their discussion:


  1. Boost your phone call volume without paying additional money: “Make your phone number prominent on every website page. In addition, include your phone number in the website page title and description.” – Ray Fenster


  1. Relevance is content, not just keywords. “Don’t ‘keyword stuff’ your website search terms, i.e. don’t go after every city in the state. Google is onto this and no longer allows it.”  – Dennis Colome


  1. All leads are created equal. “Our dealership uses a strict 180-day process for follow up. Once a lead reaches 60 days with no contact, then the process becomes automated.” – Richard Tolsma


  1. Turn your “dead” leads into service opportunities. “If a customer isn’t ready to buy a car, give the lead to fixed ops to market and see if they can get that customer in for service. Something like 80% of service customers will buy a new car from that dealership. The closing percentage goes way up.” – Ray Fenster


  1. Don’t be afraid to share pricing, just be smart about it. “Be up front in your pricing, but be sure to give the customer several pricing options. Give them the price for the vehicle they inquired about, then follow up with second and third pricing options that are lower.” – Dennis Colome


  1. Generic responses don’t add value to the conversation. “Respond to specific questions and concerns in the customers’ initial e-mails. Also acknowledge the source from where the lead came; for example, if you get a lead from ZAG American Express, mention something about the program and how exclusive it is and how happy you are to be working with them.” – Justin Brun



  1. Have a pricing strategy. “When responding to pricing questions, use a “we start as low as” strategy and show the customer the option, i.e. a Toyota-Corolla. Giving them the lowest price on the lowest model will set their expectations and they usually upsell themselves. The vast majority of our customers buy a different vehicle than they originally inquired about.”  – Greg Coleman


  1. Be patient. “Third party leads typically research five to six vehicles on the third-party sites because they are looking for unbiased info. When they submit leads they are often three to four months out, so work with them for a while. True ROI has to be measured over time.” – Dennis Colome


  1. Know Your Market. “We perform a competitive analysis via e-mails and mystery shopping websites and third-party sites, and build a pricing matrix based upon the information gathered. On new vehicles we found our competitors are just showing the MSRP; so by displaying that number minus any available rebates, we automatically show a lower price than what’s in the market.” – Greg Coleman


  1. Trends are worth more than ‘snapshots’. “When you report to management, they want to see results. Whatever program or product you are reviewing, show 30-day, 60-day and 90-day snapshots so they can see trends as to what’s working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to get rid of what’s not working. Not all products work for all dealerships.”  - Ray Fenster


Which is your favorite “top tip?” What are you doing in your department that works? What’s your “top tip” to share with other Internet sales personnel? 

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