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Dealer Tips News

COVID-19 Resources for Used Car Dealers

How can Used Car Dealers adapt to a changing retail landscape during COVID-19?

Here at Auto Ad Manager, we know that used car dealerships across the country are facing unprecedented times, and we wanted to make sure that you are getting the resources and help you need. Here are a few of the top resources and tips to tap into during this time:

  1. Familiarize yourself with and follow the CDC recommendations for small businesses
  2. Tap into the SBA Coronavirus relief options if needed
  3. Resources / Apply for a grant thru LISC
  4. Prioritize making consumers feel safe when visiting your dealership.
  5. Offer incentives and discounts to motivate shoppers
  6. Offer vehicle delivery and test drive delivery options if requested
  7. Offer video conferencing to show customers your vehicles before they commit to a test drive / come to the dealership
  8. Update your Google business page with changes and announcements
  9. Print COVID-19 signs for your workplace: Face Covering PSA, Stop the Spread of Germs PSA, Stay Home From Work PSA
  10. Watch the dealer forward webinar discussing how you can adapt your business to the changing retail landscape here. Any of the tools discussed can easily be integrated into your website by Auto Ad Manager

With a constantly evolving situation with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Used Car Dealers face unforeseen and unprecedented challenges. By utilizing resources, staying calm and focused, and supporting one another, we can make it thru this challenging time together. If you aren’t an Auto Ad Manager customer yet, visit our homepage to learn more.

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Dealer Tips

Do Car Dealers Need to Comply with the CCPA?

Are dealers under the CCPA act of 2020?

Many car dealers wonder if they need to make sure they are in compliance with the recently enacted CCPA or California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 which went into affect January 1,2020. According to the compliance guidelines if the following is true you will need to make some changes to the way you handle personal data of anyone visiting your website:

The CCPA applies to any business, including any for-profit entity that collects consumers’ personal data, which does business in California, and satisfies at least one of the following thresholds:

  • Has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million;
  • Buys or sells the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers or households; or
  • Earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.

If you meet any of the above you are required to “implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices in protecting consumer data”.

For the full breakdown of if you dealership meets these requirements, see the official documentation on the governement website here.

Most car dealerships will not fall into any of these categories, and would therefore not be subject to be in compliance with this law. However, it does raise the serious question of how are the used car dealerships current policies in handling sensitive customer information? This could be in digital form via your website, or physical form when you make a copy of a drivers license before a test drive. You will want to discuss that with your business or legal professional, and this is a conversation that every dealership should have.

Obviously this is not a legal blog and we offer no advice on the matter of used car dealer privacy compliance. However, privacy is something that every car dealer should pay close attention to and that needs to be investigated. For further reading check out this website dedicated to the CCPA and this excellent article written by JD Supra.

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Dealer Tips Features

Auto Ad Manager Now Offering Full Used Car Dealer Advertising Services

We are now offering different enhanced services to help build your used car dealership brand including:

  • Managed SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Target trending keywords to drive more leads to your dealership website. Includes SEO Audit and Strategy, 2 content pages per month and a monthly SEO Report tracking traffic increases to your website thru search engines.
  • Managed SEM – We will manage your ad campaigns on Google Adwords, Facebook, Bing, etc. Audit keyword effectiveness, manage negative keywords, add additional search terms and provide a monthly report.
  • Managed Social Media and Brand Reputation – Post 3 times per week to your Instagram and Facebook pages. Research and target specific hashtags to gain more followers. Manage reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook with replies to both good and bad reviews and provide a monthly report.

Give us a call or send us an email to see how you might use these new services to drive more traffic to your used car dealer website!

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Dealer Tips

How To Handle Negative Reviews Online

how-to-respond-to-bad-reviews-onlineMost sites offer a review system related to your Used Car Dealership. Sometimes, an irate outspoken customer voices their frustration with your service. What are your options? What is the best way to handle the situation? Here are some things that you should consider before you reply.

  1. Don’t Be Defensive
    Is your place business clean or dirty? Are you rude or nice on the phone? Do you sometimes ignore customers on the lot or do you greet them quickly and with a smile? Instead of getting defensive, imagine that you are experiencing your dealership for the first time thru your customers experience. If you put yourself in your customers shoes you might be a little more sympathetic to their frustration and this will help you make a reply and ultimately remedy the situation.
  2. Reply To The Review Kindly
    Most review sites offer the ability for the business owner to reply. Take advantage of this feature and reply to the review. A word of caution however: Make sure you do so in a kind, dignified manner without sounding defensive. This is key. If you are harsh and defensive, it’s not going to look good online. If you are apologetic, factual, and to the point, other users will see that and decide to take your accusers words with a grain of salt, or give them no merit whatsoever. Either one is good for your used car dealership.
  3. Analyze and Adapt
    What went wrong? Could the situation have been avoided? Moving forward it may require some changes to the business policy, but these changes will be well worth it. If you can minimize situations like this you will preserve a good reputation online, and that is the first place that most customers come in contact with your dealership first.

So, there are three simple things you can do the next time you encounter a bad review about your business online. You will save yourself a lot of time and headache dealing with a negative review online if you aren’t defensive, you reply in a kind way, and analyze what went wrong so that you can adapt your methods in the future.

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Dealer Tips

What Am I Agreeing To?

What are you agreeing to? It’s a common question from customers when the time comes to finalize the paperwork, and you do your best to explain it all. The problem with contracts and agreements is many times we think we know what they say, but in reality, the wording and meaning can be altered and confused. Which begs the question, do I really know what I am agreeing to? This question is especially important for any contracts that you as a dealer sign. Whether the agreement is with a lender, an advertising partner, or a vendor, it is important to take the time to fully understand the terms. For example, a dealer in California recently sold an expensive vehicle to a buyer that needed financing. Upon bank approval the vehicle was delivered and the paperwork sent in. A few months later the lender still had not received a payment, and upon investigation, it was discovered that identity theft and fraud were involved. The customer is nowhere to be found and the bank wants their money. The dealer was contacted and informed that according to their agreement, in the case of fraud, the dealer is liable to the bank for the balance of the loan. Thank goodness for insurance right? Maybe not, as some policies do not cover identity theft cases. Had the dealer known that they were responsible in a case like this they may have taken a few additional steps to ensure they were protected. This is also true of advertising partners. Auto Ad Manager has had multiple dealers relate horror stories of problems with former advertising partners, especially in relation to their domain name registration. Typically, a dealer should always register their own domain name. However, a friendly offer from an ad partner to do that for them is gladly accepted by some. When it’s time to try another solution though, the claws come out and ad partners have been known to hold domain names hostage. The dealership has the domain name plastered on license plate frames, business cards, and ads. Now they have to change internet addresses and this can be a slow and expensive process. Sadly, if the ad partner has a clause in the agreement that states they own your domain name if they register it on your behalf, their isn’t much legal recourse. Perhaps migrating the domain name to a third party before you cancel your agreement is the best option. Auto Ad Manager has always held that the dealer is the owner of the domain name whether we register it for them or not, and is quick to transfer to a third party or new provider whenever needed. The moral of the stories: Always know what you are agreeing to.

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Dealer Tips

If You Spend It, You Will Get It

When things are slow should you lay low?
When things are slow should you lay low?
When times get tough, a lot of dealers like to employ the old adage “When it’s slow, lay low”. But is that what successful Used Car Dealers do? We talked to a few and here is what some of them do when those times come.

Make Dealership Enhancements – This is a great suggestion and one that has a lot of merit. A lot of dealerships are a bit lax when it comes to maintenance. Why not use the down time to wash the windows, paint the trim, add some decorations, or do a deep cleaning. Customers do notice the little things and if you spend the time, you will get more customers who write positive reviews.

Purchase Quality Vehicles – Instead of taking a risk on a vehicle that is cheap but may have been neglected and abused, why not spend a little more money per vehicle and get a more quality inventory. You will be building your reputation and probably receive more referrals in the slow times than the dealer that sells the lemons. It’s better to buy two clean $7,500 cars than three bad $5000 cars with $15k.

Get Social – Are you effectively using social media to engage your customers? Sites like www.pinterest.com, www.instagram.com, www.facebook.com, and www.twitter.com are all ways to engage with the public and just might get you that extra customer you are after.

Take Better Photos – Was that BMW dirty when you took pictures because you wanted it on the website right away? Why not look down the inventory list and pick a few vehicles where the lighting was bad, the car was dirty, or the recon wasn’t done completely and retake your photos. That just might make for a better showing for your customer and be the motivating factor to schedule a test drive.

Spend On Advertising – Just because it’s slow doesn’t mean you should cut your ad budget. If the other dealers do that, that will leave you with the customers when thing pick up, as your cars will be found and seen. See if there are other ways to trim your cost first, this one should be a last resort.

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Dealer Tips News

Car Dealer Websites and Automotive SEO Video Updated

We put the finishing touches on our video that shows the main features of Auto Ad Manager. Mainly, video snippets and screenshots show the new user interface that also works on mobile for used car dealers. We also have put more of an emphasis on Automotive SEO and Car Dealer Websites.

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Dealer Tips

Detailing The Force Approval Credit Card Scam

force-approval-merchant-scamSo you’re getting ready to close the deal. The profit looks great, the buyer checks out, and he wants the car. The buyer then asks if you would accept a credit card. No problem you reply, your credit card processing machine is ready to go. The buyer remarks that there is just one thing you need to do. You will need to “force” the approval and call the merchant to get an approval code.

Wait a second you think, that sounds a little fishy. Everything is fine your customer explains. It’s just because XYZ happened and this is the way that his credit card company told him to do it  because of XYZ. Go ahead call my credit card company at this number, he explains, you’ll get the approval code I’m talking about.

You proceed to call the number and give the merchant the credit card number and the person on the other end replies that the process is fine, albeit unconventional, providing the approval code you need. So you proceed, following the process your customer guides you through, swiping the card, navigating thru the options, and holding the “Force” option to get an approval. The charge goes through and everything seems fine. You get an approval and print out the receipt. Wow, this person knows more about credit card machines than you do, you think to yourself. You shake hands and the customer drives off in his brand new car.

A few days later you check your account to make sure the transaction posted, but to your chagrin, it hasn’t. You call your bank and explain the story. But unfortunately, you have been had. There is no money in your account.

You call the customer, no answer. You call your insurance company who regrets to inform you that they don’t offer coverage on Force approvals. Now you call the police. Hopefully you have Lojack installed on that vehicle.

Moral of the story? Never do a force entry. If you have to do it for some odd reason, get an approval from your merchant, not the buyers.

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Dealer Tips

Reading the Fine Print

Have you received a document in the mail from DNS Services or a similar company that looks like this?Should a dealer pay this

At first glance you might have assumed that you are a current customer, after all, their is an account number on the form along with your company name.

It may appear at first glance that you are already a customer

Lets examine the document closer. The center of the document has your domain name listed and even your dns information, along with an annual fee of $65 for managed DNS backup business services.

Lets Read the Fine Print

But let’s read the center area closely. That’s right, they have spelled it out for you on the third line down in all caps, “this is a solicitation for the order of goods or services or both, and not a bill, invoice, or statement of account due. You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer.

So you do not owe DNS Services, INC any money, this is merely a solicitation and if you send in a payment, you are accepting their offer.

Make sure to read all documents thoroughly that ask for any type of payment. You may have incorrectly assumed that money was due, when indeed it is not.

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Dealer Tips

Used Car Dealers Shift Spending To Mobile

Optimize your site for mobile users or lose potential customers. That’s the warning coming from Google directly to car dealers. This article outlines some of the details, but for a quick summary, more buyers are accessing dealer websites via smartphone than ever before, comparing prices, photos, and details before they make their buying decision. Interestingly, after a period of 1 month, 24% of buyers purchase a different vehicle than the one they initially started searching for.

So what does this all mean for you? You will be left behind unless you shift your online marketing strategy to include mobile users. Ask yourself: Do my customers get the same website experience on their cell phones as they do on their desktop computer? Do I have bloated features like flash intro’s and photo carousels that don’t work on some smartphones? Do my pages load fast or are they painfully slow, especially for someone with limited connectivity?

With AutoAdManager, dealers have a website that works on desktop, smartphone, and tablet computers, all with the same site. We also employ javascript for any advanced features like photo carousels and image slideshows instead of the flash player, ensuring that even iphone and ipad users can see all the features of our websites. Thanks to proprietary code and use of web standards, our websites load faster than most, keeping the interest of our dealers potential customers.

Here is a screenshot of one of our mobile ready websites taken from a desktop computer. (click for a larger image)

Standard Desktop view of dealer website
Desktop View

Here is that same website viewed on an iPhone or iPod touch. Notice that content seamlessly wraps down the page and is clearly legible while maintaining the same look and feel.

Screenshot of what a mobile user sees
Mobile View

This is not a different website served to a mobile user, this is the same website a desktop user sees. You are providing the same experience to both users while branding yourself. This is a huge advantage. Some mobile sites strip things like your logo and design, all the while getting you lost in a sea of other dealers with the same strategy. Don’t get left behind. Make sure you offer a mobile experience that wins you the sale in the end.

Feel free to contact us if you would like more information about how we can help your dealership with this initiative.