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Are You Sourcing Your Traffic and Sales?

March 9, 2011

In this article, Jim Bell explains that customers are spending more time researching brands and dealerships before they even enter the store. He describes the process of ‘sourcing’ his own company, and offers some advice on how dealerships should best present themselves online.  In his words, “Just about every customer is an ‘internet customer.’  So is your dealership an internet dealership?” Leave a comment at the bottom of the page and tell us what you think.

Are You Sourcing Your Traffic and Sales?

by Jim Bell on Mar 8, 2011

Online advertising in the car business can be a tough at times to track.  We hear the numbers from all of the vendors in how many people search and research on the internet before coming into a dealership.  Some will submit for more info, some will call, and some will just show up in your showroom.  There are some pretty stout numbers out there from Northwood University.  So how true are they?

We had a sourcing done by Autotrader and confirmed a lot of info that we kind of knew, but learned a lot in the process too.  We learned that 75% of OUR used car customers were on the internet doing research before they set foot in our door.  Of that 75%, 61% were what a lot of salesmen would say is ‘drive-by’ traffic.  Only 29% made contact with us before making the trip into the dealership.  This coincides with the Northwood University studies that have been done over the last few years.  They were using websites that we have not advertised on before and had no idea that they relied on that information that much.  With that in mind, we are now advertising there.  Still a little early to see the results.

On the new side of things, 73% of OUR buyers used the internet.  This may be a little low as we are a single point dealership and we rely heavily on repeat and referral business which was confirmed in our study (35% were a referral from a friend/family member).  69% of those people were just ‘walk-in’ traffic and didn’t make any contact with us through email or phone.

This goes to show that even though some of the online advertisers may be a little pricy, it validated where we were putting our advertising dollars online.  We are now advertising on the top 6 of the 7 websites.  The one doesn’t allow for advertising as of yet to my knowledge.  People are looking at you online and you have to look good.

You have to have good photos, good descriptions, and competitive pricing.  You almost have to have a pricing tool of some sort like vAuto, VIN Solutions, or something equivalent.  When you have that combination, you will succeed.  Just about every customer is an ‘internet customer.’  So is your dealership an internet dealership?  All of the staff has to be prepared to handle the internet shopper because if they didn’t submit for info or call in, 6 or 7 out of 10 did do their research online on the car, and the dealership.

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