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When dealerships first started publishing web pages, I remember that many felt that it was not very important. However, as many other dealers were doing it, they felt that they needed to as well. At first they were static, very basic websites, with very little information. Along came the ability to dynamically add inventory updated in real-time. At this point, most dealers that had their inventory listed with stock photos and descriptions. As the internet kept generating more business, dealerships recognized the value of listing their vehicles with actual pictures of the vehicles and custom comments. They started either taking the pictures themselves or hiring a service to do it.
Fast forward to today… Just about every dealership in existence has actual photos of their entire used car inventory and many are also featuring pictures of their new car inventory as well. The importance of using pictures to help sell inventory is illustrated by the fact that many dealers now have 40+ photos of each vehicle, and many have video of them as well.
The reason for this increasing importance of photos over time is that people want to see your inventory. The inability to see actual photos of the vehicle decreases the chances that they will convert into a sale. Why? Because consumers believe what they see. If you have no photos of your inventory, the only recourse a consumer has is to call you and ask. You could tell them how immaculate the vehicle is until you’re blue in the face, and they won’t believe it until they see it. Photos and videos have become a best practice in car sales because they increase conversions – whether that’s from a third party listing service or a dealer’s own website – which translates into increased sales.
One of the key reasons that photos increase sales is that website inventory is virtual. Customers can’t see it unless you provide photos. If they aren’t on your lot, they have to either use their imagination (which won’t help you convert them,) call you and ask questions (in which your answers will be taken with a grain of salt,) or come to your dealership and see it for themselves. Photos cut through a lot of that and allow the customer to see it for themselves without resorting to using their imagination or calling you. When they can see for themselves online how pristine the vehicle is, they are much more likely to fill out that lead form or come into your dealership to look at the vehicle.
The same concept applies to the service department. The only difference is that even if the customer is at your dealership, in many cases they still can’t see with their own eyes the repairs you are proposing. They certainly can’t crawl inside the engine and inspect something and, even if they could, they probably don’t know enough about engines and vehicles to understand or use their imagination. Using photos in the service department is just as effective at increasing service sales as it is for your vehicle inventory. It allows the customers to see with their own eyes the problems you are describing. It also helps to reinforce the importance of completing any recommended service.
Photos in service build trust with consumers and help increase sales. It is a good best practice to keep a complete visual record of all needed repairs as part of a vehicle’s service history.
Photos can also be used to provide a valuable photo record of the vehicle that can help reduce dealership liability when it comes to dents, dings and scratches.
Photos in fixed ops can be just as, if not even more, valuable than photos of your inventory. Think about applying the same concepts and knowledge to vehicle service department that led to the adoption of photos and videos in your inventory listings on the Internet. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In your service department, it’s worth ten thousand.