Categories
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.

Categories
Dealer Tips

5 Tips For Car Dealers Advertising Used Cars

The best way to sell a used car in this market is to make sure you stand out against your competition. Here are 5 tips to help you do just that.

1. Price Your Vehicle Right

To often I see dealers sitting on great inventory for long periods of time because they price themselves out of the market. Do your research, and come up with a fair number that keeps you competitive.

2. Take Better Photos

People appreciate it if you take your time with the presentation of the vehicle. First impressions say a lot. If you need tips on how to do this, check out this post we did earlier on the subject.

3. Brand Yourself

Your advertisements should always have a logo or identifying photo that brands your business. It’s important to stand out against your competition, and familiar logos attract customers to you.

4. Provide Accurate Information

If your vehicle has high mileage, state it, don’t hide it. If someone wants a high mileage vehicle, they won’t have a problem with it. Don’t be afraid to disclose information. You have nothing to hide and are only gaining trust and an honest relationship. Always make sure you mention any special features as well.

5.  Be Available

Once you have presented everything you can, make sure you are available to answer questions and setup appointments for test drives. Reply to emails right away, return voice mails as soon as possible, and treat each customer as the potential next owner of that used car.

Following these tips should help any Used Car Dealer sell more cars. Remember, there is a buyer out there looking for your vehicle, you just need to make sure you are doing your part to find them.

Categories
Dealer Tips

Five Reasons Not To Spam Craigslist

Screen Capture of Craigslist.org HomepageMost dealers have found Craigslist to be an effective way to market their vehicles. However, many dealers have taken up the practice of posting their vehicles in multiple cities, several times per week. They reason that because they are on the top of the list, they will sell more cars since they are in front of more people.
Here are 5 reasons why a dealer should not follow this practice:

1. It Is Against The Craigslist Terms Of Use

The moment you post an ad on the Craigslist.org website, you agree to their terms of use. According to Section 7 of the terms of use document, you agree not to:

v) post non-local or otherwise irrelevant Content, repeatedly post the
same or similar Content or otherwise impose an unreasonable or
disproportionately large load on our infrastructure;

w) post the same item or service in more than one classified category or
forum, or in more than one metropolitan area;

That’s reason enough in my eyes, but let’s explore a few more.

2. You May Tarnish Your Image With Legitimate Buyers

Users of the site can be internet savvy and might be turned off by businesses that don’t play by the rules. If you are breaking the rules with your advertising, what makes them think they can trust you in respect to the vehicle? When I shopped for a new car last year, I personally avoided the dealers who spammed Craigslist, even if they had the vehicle I was looking for. How many other users do you think are doing the same thing?

3. Your Ads Might Be Ghosted

You’ve posted the ad to your account and everything looks green in your admin, however doing a search for your vehicle on the front end yields no results. Why? The sites administrators have full control over any account, and it appears they have the ability to remove or not display ads even if it appears that they are still on the site. This is not a good place to be and could cause you a lot of time and lost sales trying to figure out what’s gone wrong.

4. You Aren’t Increasing Your Odds Much

In large metropolitan areas, Craigslist moves pretty fast, and posting your ad to be on the top doesn’t last very long. (Some areas allow a vehicle to stay on the system for 30 days!) Most users use the search feature to find the vehicle they want, and then consult the available vehicles close to them first. Believe me, if you have what they are looking for, they will find you regardless of when you posted the ad.

AutoAdManager.com customers are encouraged not to spam the system, and they are proof that posting your vehicles once a week still yields excellent results. One dealer who posts only once a week recently had their best month since they have been in business, and they didn’t need to break any rules to get there.

5. It’s A Free Website

You didn’t pay anything for your ad did you? So why are you going against the terms the website has asked you to follow? You will be saving a ton of time every week, and have less stress knowing that you are following the rules. Users will respect you more and you can avoid the cat and mouse game that goes on between Craigslist and the real spammers trying to exploit the site.

There might be a dealer down the street that appears to be getting away with posting their vehicles multiple times in different categories. However, it’s only a matter of time before Craigslist catches on to their game and starts making it really hard for them to post anything at all. Save yourself the heartache and show your customers that you play by the rules. You’ll be glad you did.

Categories
Features

Uploading Photos Just Got Easier

A good dealer management program should always be easy to use, powerful, and fast. However, sometimes as features are added performance begins to lag and efficiency can suffer. Our development team is constantly trying to balance all of these things and won’t roll out a new feature unless it meets all of our standards.

We are excited to introduce a multiple photo uploader that cuts photo uploading time way down and is very easy to use, all without slowing down the program. Here are some screen shots of it in action, but to truly appreciate it, log into your account, add a new vehicle, and from the add images page click the “Bulk Upload” button.

Other dealer inventory managers offer similar features but at much higher monthly rates and with a lot of needless program bloat. Auto Ad Manager continues to differentiate itself as “The Best and Easiest Inventory Management for Used Car Dealers”.

Categories
Dealer Tips

Using The Power Of Social Media To Promote Your Dealership

Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and other sites have all received a lot of attention lately helping businesses connect with their customers. But how do you get started? What can a dealer do to drive attention to their business?

One way is by setting up accounts on social media websites that contain plenty of information about your operation. Some dealerships link to those accounts from their website, encouraging users to follow their updates.

Here’s how AutoAdManager.com is setting up it’s customers for social media.

  1. Dealers are actively being moved to our new platform that contains technology to send automatic updates to these sites on a daily basis. Whenever a new car is added to inventory, it is sent to these social sites.
  2. Accounts are created that have the logo, company information, and links about the dealer.
  3. The dealer website is linked back to these accounts and the feed goes live.
  4. Logo’s are placed on the footer of the site and visitors are welcomed to follow the account.

That’s it! Not a lot of work from the dealer, but a lot of benefits. The savy end user sees that you are a dealership that takes pride in providing easy to use tools for them. You aren’t spamming, harassing, or annoying the customer, and are providing them with different options to connect with you. It would be wise to monitor these new accounts or connect them to your personal device so that you can respond to any interest shown.

Some of our dealerships have already been migrated to this new platform. One of them is Nino Motors. Note the photo below that shows at the bottom of each page the non intrusive links that a potential customer can click on.

Click the image to see the icons users see.

Once the user clicks on, say the Facebook link, they are taken to an active page that they can “like”  which will in turn display on their own page that their friends are connected to.

Click to see Nino's facebook wall.

Customers can also keep track of inventory in their favorite feed reader by clicking the orange icon on the bottom right of the footer. MyYahoo, iGoogle, and others are looked at everyday because they personalize content delivery.

Users can click to subscribe to your inventory.

Stay tuned for more on how used car dealers are making social media work for them!

Categories
Dealer Tips

Need Carfax? Give Your Customer The Power For Free

Update: This promotion is no longer available.

Categories
Dealer Tips

5 Photo Tips For Car Dealers

Taken At Dusk

Since the quality and quantity of photos you take of your used car, truck, van, SUV or motorcycle can play a roll in getting it sold, the question arises: How can you take better photos of your vehicles? Here are a few tips that will help out.

  1. Camera
    Learning how your camera works is the difference between an O.K. photo and a great photo. If you leave your camera on “Auto” or “P” mode, expect mediocre results. When you need to get a photo where the foreground is in focus and the background is blurred, choose A or Aperture priority mode and lower the f stop setting as low as your camera will allow. This number depends on the camera, but most “point and click” camera’s will be in the 2’s (2.6,2.4). If you want a photo where everything is in focus, raise this number up to 6-8. For even better results, learn how to set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get the look you want for each photo. You can check the owners manual that came with your camera, or read a little about it on this excellent photography tutorial site.  One thing is for sure, you don’t need an expensive camera to achieve great results.
  2. Lighting and Setting
    Where you take the photo has a great deal to do with how crisp the image turns out. Time of day, amount of shade, and whether you use artificial light all have a bearing on the final image. Choose a time when the sun isn’t directly overhead, either early in the morning or towards dusk. Park the vehicle in a well shaded area, against a wall, under a tree, or something similar. If it is to dark inside the vehicle, use the flash, but if you can, adjust the flash output so that it isn’t to intense. Try to find a spot where the background isn’t busy. Other objects will detract from your photo.
  3. Subject
    You aren’t just taking pictures of a car, you are selling why the customer should come to the lot and see that particular vehicle over all the others. You need to take photos of what’s important, but don’t overwhelm. To many pictures and the potential customer will lose patience waiting for a picture of the ash tray to download. To little and you haven’t made shown them enough to get them excited. Don’t worry about being too artistic, after all, this isn’t a magazine shoot. But do try and cover the whole vehicle inside and out and take your photos from the point of view of the customer walking around and looking your vehicle over. This can usually be accomplished with anywhere between 12 and 36 photos, depending on if it’s a higher end vehicle.
  4. Image Size
    You don’t need to set your camera to it’s highest resolution setting. Why not? High megapixel camera’s are good for large photos like the family portrait above the mantel and large posters for the office. When it comes to the internet, smaller resolution photos with 1024 x 768 size photos or less are the best. After all, people are now accessing your vehicles on smart phones, and if your pictures take to long to load they will simply move on to the next one, maybe your competitors. Keep your photo size small and you’ll save yourself a lot of time uploading your images as well.
  5. Front Line Ready
    Repeat after me, “I will not take photos of my car until it is front line ready”. So many times I see dealers taking photos of their cars just to get it up quick even though there is a lot of work left to do. If you have to get a vehicle up fast, make sure it is in decent condition, no amount of zooming out is going to hide a serious flaw. Better to wait until your reconditioning is done to present it to your buyer. Remember, in a large decision purchase like buying a car, most buyers take their time and weigh out their options. Presenting it when it’s front line ready is a good habit to get into.

If you practice a few of these points you will find that customers will comment about it, and really, that’s the best feedback you can get.

Categories
Dealer Tips

Not All Dealer Websites Are Created Equal

There are a lot of bad websites out there, especially for used car dealers. So how do you pick the best? One way is to examine the features that you should and shouldn’t have. Here are a few things to look out for.

  1. Website Templates
  2. The same look for every dealership doesn’t brand your web presence and it looks cheap. Shrewd internet users will notice that you haven’t taken the time to present yourself as a distinct business to them, and will correlate a lack of effort here with a lack of effort in other aspects of your business. Choose a company that will take the time to work with your brand to create a custom or semi-custom website for you.

  3. Mobile
  4. The amount of users accessing the web from their mobile phones continues to grow at a staggering pace, and you can bet that people are using them when they shop for a car. So how does your website look on a smart phone? Is it just a small version of your website that is hard to read and navigate? Or is it easy to browse and interact with without much effort? Choose a company that continues to optimize for this very important internet segment.

  5. Simple and Powerful
  6. Your inventory manager should be available from any computer, accessed via HTTPS for a secure connection, easy to navigate and simple to use. Powerful features like Vin Decoding, Bulk important from Karpower or your dealer DMS like Desk Manager would be included. Posting help to sites like Ebay, Craigslist, and OVE, should all be standard. Your vehicle should be automatically sent to third party free sites like Oodle, Vast, and Backpage, as well as any sites you pay for like Cars.com, Autotrader, and Vehix.

  7. SEO
  8. Because search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing make it so easy to find information, customers use these to find the website they are looking for, instead of trying to remember the URL. If you want your website to appear at the top for your customer, then search engine optimization is a must. Pick a company that knows the right blend of meta tags, keywords, and content to use to make sure your site comes up where it should.

  9. Affordable
  10. Dealers know that advertising is one thing they can’t afford to cut out completely if they want to stay in business. Why not start with one of the most affordable systems in the industry so you don’t have to worry about cutting back? Auto Ad Manager has been designed with the small independent dealer in mind, so costs are kept low from the start.

We feel that our internet application hits all of these marks.

Find out more about how Auto Ad Manager can help your dealership by clicking here.