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Autobytel ACQUIRES AutoUSA - Automotive Internet Sales - 3rd Party Lead Source Provider

- Transaction Significantly Expands Autobytel's Dealer Network;
Expected to Deliver Meaningful Increases in Revenue and Cash Flow -

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq: ABTL), pioneer of the automotive Internet and the company dedicated to connecting automotive consumers with dealers and manufacturers, today announced it has acquired Ft. Lauderdale-based AutoUSA, a longstanding, premier Web-based auto leads and services provider, from AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE: AN).

The purchase price included $10.0 million in cash, a $1.0 million, 6% convertible note payable in one lump sum in five years and convertible to Autobytel common stock at a conversion price reflecting a 20% premium over the price of Autobytel's common stock on the date of closing, and warrants giving AutoNation the right to purchase approximately $1.0 million of Autobytel's common stock at an exercise price reflecting a 5% premium over the price of the stock on the date of closing. The transaction was financed by Union Bank, N.A. through a newly established $9.0 million senior secured term loan, and by drawing on Autobytel's existing secured working capital revolver. Both the term loan and the revolver carry interest at a rate of LIBOR plus 2.5%. The term loan is amortized over a period of four years. AutoUSA generated 2013 revenues of approximately $30.0 million, with positive operating income and cash flow. The company believes that the transaction will be accretive to Autobytel's 2014 results.

Autobytel said the acquisition expands its reach and influence in the industry by increasing its national new and used car dealer network to more than 5,200 from approximately 3,800, while boosting its business with auto manufacturers. It also enables the company to offer its new mobile and SaleMove products to a larger customer base, while continuing to build on relationships with OEMs and large dealer groups, including the AutoNation family of dealers.

Autobytel, which was founded in 1995 by former Southern California car dealer Pete Ellis, has again grown to become one of the most influential automotive services organizations, providing high quality leads and innovative marketing and mobile services to dealers and OEMs. The company serves a critical role in the industry in helping car buyers find the right vehicle while delivering highly relevant consumer purchasing information to its industry partners.

Phil DuPree, President of AutoUSA, has joined Autobytel as Executive Vice President, President of Dealer Services. As an inducement for joining the company, DuPree was granted an option to acquire 40,000 shares of Autobytel common stock at an exercise price equal to the closing price of Autobytel's common stock on the acquisition closing date. The option will initially vest based on certain financial performance criteria related to Autobytel's dealer services group and then on DuPree's time of service with Autobytel.

"AutoUSA brings a new, high quality client base to the Autobytel family and strengthens our existing relationship with AutoNation, which is the largest U.S. automotive retailer," said Jeff Coats, Autobytel's president and CEO. "The transaction solidifies our leadership role in the industry, enabling us to offer an even larger base of dealers and automakers top quality products, including leads that convert to sales at nearly three times an estimated industry average, and a wide range of mobile products designed to sell more cars.

"AutoUSA represents an outstanding fit with Autobytel. In addition to its core leads business, AutoUSA's suite of complementary third-party, Web-based services includes payment-based pre-qualification tools, incentive programs and other products and services designed to help dealer customers and manufacturers increase their sales," Coats added.

"Since 2000, AutoUSA has developed very strong relationships with dealers across the country. The combination of Autobytel and AutoUSA adds strength to both organizations and represents an opportunity for consolidation in an industry segment that remains fragmented," said Mike Maroone, president and chief operating officer of AutoNation, Inc. "This combination benefits automotive consumers, dealers and manufacturers, alike."

As previously announced, in addition to AutoUSA, Autobytel also recently acquired Advanced Mobile, LLC, now known as Autobytel Mobile, which provides a full lineup of auto industry mobile products and services such as mobile apps, mobile websites, Send2Phone capabilities and text message marketing, and TextShield, a web-based portal that allows dealers to centrally manage text communications. Also as previously announced, the company recently made a strategic investment in SaleMove, which enables auto dealers and manufacturers to enhance the online shopping experience by interacting with consumers in real-time. These new services will be available to Autobytel's expanded network of automotive dealers and manufacturers.

About Autobytel Inc.
Autobytel Inc. provides high quality consumer leads and associated marketing services to automotive dealers and manufacturers throughout the United States and offers consumers robust and original online automotive content to help them make informed car-buying decisions. The company pioneered the automotive internet in 1995 with its flagship website www.autobytel.com and has since helped tens of millions of automotive consumers research vehicles; connected thousands of dealers nationwide with motivated car buyers; and helped every major automaker market its brand online.

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AutoUSA recently completed its 2013 auto dealer Internet Marketing survey, in which we asked "What is the most common sales objection you are hearing from customers?" We summarized results from 147 respondents, including Internet sales managers, sales managers, BDC managers, marketing managers and senior management.

According to our survey, these are the most common sales objections:

  • Our price not in line with customer expectations (28%)
  • Customer can't get financing (19%)
  • Consumer confidence with economy (14%)
  • Customer can't afford a new vehicle (12%)
  • Customer doesn't have time/too busy (10%)
  • Dealership didn't have desired model available (5%)
  • Customer didn't like dealership sales process (1%)

When we include other answers such as "customer wanted price before coming in," "need to talk to husband/wife," "not offering enough money for trade-in," it’s evident that affordability and pricing are key to the decision-making process. So how can we deal with affordability objections?

It starts with understanding the customer’s process. Thanks to increased transparency on the Internet, and to the numerous e-commerce sites out there, today's consumer is used to being in control of the purchasing process. If we want to buy something, we use the Internet to conduct research, read product or service reviews, do some comparative price shopping and then finally, click a button. Purchase complete.

When it comes to buying a vehicle, the consumer attempts to follow this same path. For the most part, they can. There are sites that provide information in abundance, reviews of both vehicles and local dealers, and pricing guidance. When it comes to detailed affordability options, like finance or lease payments, those sites often fall short and customers either target the wrong car or seek out the dealer for answers.

You can help the consumer by giving information they can’t reliably get anywhere else. As dealers, we understand that many factors go into giving a price quote - it's not always an easy, cut-and-dry number to give. It’s OK to educate your customers on this, but you also have to give them information, and proactively at that.

On your website, include real payments using payment-quoting tools such as Payment ProSM. When you receive phone calls, answer questions about pricing directly and be prepared to follow up with key questions that will help you shape the conversation and identify if the customer is on the right vehicle. In the showroom and on the lot, don’t be afraid to have conversations about payment ranges or even post them on cars.

Today's consumer feels entitled to information. If you can help the customer find the information they are looking for instead of stonewalling them, you build trust. And trust is the key to overcoming objections and gaining the sale.

I'd like to hear from Internet sales managers and sales managers. What are the most common objections you are hearing, and how do you overcome these objections? What has worked and what hasn't?

 

Come visit us at booth # 3514 at NADA and ask for a demo of Payment Pro!

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Win the Customer Now to Maximize Your Year-End Sales

It's been a great year for car sales, and if you're like most dealers, you want to close out the year strong. What is your Internet marketing department doing to ensure that ready-to-buy customers will choose to visit your dealership?

 

By now most of us have read or heard the statistic from J.D. Powers and Associates, that customers visit an average of 1.8 dealerships in person before purchasing a vehicle. I believe this one statistic is the most transformative statistic in terms of its impact on Internet marketing and the sales process. Quite simply, it means that you win the customer before they set foot in your showroom.

 

Ideally you want to accomplish this by outshining your competition along every step of the customer's purchasing journey. You want to have presence where consumers are conducting research on various makes and models; you want to have useful information and conversion tools on your website; you want to give great customer service and prompt communications if they call or e-mail your dealership to gather information; you want to be able to give them accurate pricing and payment information, and you want to have great online reviews when the customer researches dealership reputations.

 

But at crunch time, giving customers an extra incentive to visit you before the end of the year may be just the thing that gives your dealership the edge. Incentive offers like ShowProSM offer a small financial incentive to a customer if they come in and take a test drive.

 

For customers who are seriously in the market and in the process of narrowing down which dealership to buy from, visit or test drive incentives have been proven to increase the show rate for appointments. Almost every dealership we work with reports closing rates over 50% for Internet appointments that show, so we know: if you get them in, you make the sale.

 

While most dealerships will see a spike in lead volume the last week of December, they’ve also seen a drop-off in sales from leads over the last 3 months. See that as an opportunity to recapture customers right now. I recommend using incentive cards as a tool to re-engage "dead" leads and target customers who may be interested in key vehicles. Here are two campaigns you can put together right now:

 

1) Create a list of prospects from the last six months who did not purchase a vehicle. Send them a holiday message with an incentive card of $25-50 to come in and take a test drive.

 

2) Is your manufacturer offering any incentives for particular models, or do you have any models that are overstocked right now? Some manufacturers are offering bonuses to dealerships that sell a particular number of a certain model. Offering a financial incentive to come in and test drive that particular model is a very cost-effective method for helping your dealership to reach this goal. At an average price of less than $50 per show, and an average close rate on appointment shows of nearly fifty percent, this more than pays for itself.

 

This time of year many people are grateful for every extra dollar they can get; and $50 is a tank of gas, a dinner out, or an extra gift for a loved one. Incentive marketing works best when the reward is time-sensitive, so end-of-the-year sales offer a great opportunity to draw new customers who might have otherwise chosen a different dealership to visit. 

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Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 11th, 2013 — AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions (www.AutoUSADealers.com) today announced the results of its 2013 annual auto dealer Internet Marketing survey. Financing tools such as online credit applications and trade-in calculators deliver the most valuable website leads, according to respondents. Other significant results from the survey identify pricing and affordability as the most commonly heard sales objection from consumers, while Internet departments' biggest challenges include lead volume and staffing issues.

"We believe the most successful dealerships have effective Internet marketing strategies, and this annual survey helps to identify how well some of those strategies are performing in current market conditions," said Phil DuPree, President of AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions.

The survey was conducted during September and October and summarizes results from 147 respondents, including Internet sales managers, sales managers, BDC marketing and senior management.

Customer Sales Objections

When asked what the most common sales objection is from customers, the top response was "our price not in line with customer expectations" (28 percent). Other responses were "customer can't get financing" (19 percent), "customer confidence with the economy" (14 percent) and "customer can't afford a new vehicle" (12 percent).

By contrast, in AutoUSA's 2011 Internet marketing survey, not meeting the customers' price expectations was the least-common objection (10 percent). Also in 2011 "didn't have desired model available" was the most common sales objection (25 percent), followed by "can't afford a new vehicle" (14 percent).

"The difference in sales objections compared with two years ago is consistent with what we see in the marketplace; consumers are finding ways to work themselves through the process and further down-funnel," said DuPree. "And while the economy may have improved somewhat, pricing and affordability are still major hurdles for many consumers."

Internet Department Challenges

Survey results indicate that dealership Internet departments are facing a new challenge in 2013. "Not enough leads" (26 percent) is the most cited challenge for Internet departments, which is quite a turnaround from two years ago, when "keeping up with lead volume" (31 percent) was the number one challenge.

According to this year's survey, Internet departments' biggest challenges behind lead volume are related to staffing. Twenty-one percent of respondents cited "not enough staff" as the biggest challenge, while 19 percent stated "quality of staff," and another 18 percent chose "staff does not adhere to processes." Additionally, 18 percent complained their "marketing budget is not large enough to meet objectives," and only 17 percent cited "keeping up with lead volume" as their number one challenge.

"It's interesting that while Internet departments appear to be spending more than ever on search optimization for their websites, they are not getting their desired lead volume compared with two years ago," said DuPree.

Lead Volume and Quality

When asked, "which website conversion tools or add-ons results in the most leads (including phone calls) from your website?" respondents ranked the following: online credit applications (52 percent); chat applications (50 percent); trade-in calculator (37 percent); coupons (20 percent); online service appointment scheduler (19 percent).

Survey participants were also asked to rate the value of leads that they received from their websites. The most valuable are "VIN-specific used vehicle leads" (76% rate as "the best" or "pretty good"); credit application leads (73% rate as "the best" or "pretty good"); new vehicle leads (66% rate as "the best" or "pretty good")chat leads (51% rate as "the best" or "pretty good")trade-in leads (45% rate as "the best" or "pretty good") and lastly, general contact info (27% rate as "the best" or "pretty good")

"Inventory leads and leads from financing tools appear to be the most valuable to dealers, which makes sense because once customers start engaging with a website conversion tool they are probably serious shoppers," said DuPree.

Internet Marketing Budgets

In spite of the commonly cited statistic that more than 90 percent of consumers begin their search for a vehicle on the Internet, the survey found that most dealers do not allocate a majority of their budgets to Internet marketing. In response to the question, "What percentage of your overall advertising & marketing budget is spent on Internet marketing?" survey participants shared the following:

Ÿ -50 percent of dealers spend less than 30% of budget on Internet marketing

Ÿ -37 percent spend between 30-60% of budget on Internet marketing

Ÿ -13 percent spend more than 60% of budget on Internet marketing

On the extreme ends of the scale, 10 percent of dealers spend less than 10% of their budget on Internet marketing, while only one percent of dealers spend 90-100% of their budget on Internet marketing.

However, in response to the question "do you plan to increase your Internet marketing budgets in 2014?" 59 percent of respondents responded "yes."

Survey respondents were also asked, "In which areas do you plan to allocate the majority of your Internet marketing budget in 2014?" The responses were:

Ÿ -Website SEO/SEM (54%)

Ÿ -Leads from inventory sites, i.e. Cars.com, Autotrader.com, etc. (51%)

Ÿ -Independent leads from AutoUSA, Dealix, Autobytel (33%)

Ÿ -Social Media (23%)

Ÿ -E-Mail Marketing (22%)

Ÿ -Video production and marketing (17%)

Ÿ -Reputation Management (14%)

Ÿ -Online ads (14%)

Finally, the majority of dealerships are optimistic for a profitable 2014. When asked if they believed they would sell more vehicles in the coming year, 85 percent of respondents claimed "yes, my dealership will sell more vehicles in 2014 than in 2013."

 

About AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions

 

AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions brings the best-in-class tools to increase Internet sales and lower costs for automotive dealerships. Leading products include Payment ProSM, a payment-based pre-qualification tool for dealer websites; ShowProSM incentive program, proven to turn more leads into shows; Leads&ListingsSM, providing the highest quality, new and used car email and phone leads from 100+ sites; PowerListingsSM 2.0, helping dealers increase traffic to—and leads from—their social media sites; and AVA Virtual Sales Assistant, helping dealerships manage more leads at a reduced cost. AutoUSA products are currently benefiting thousands of active dealers all across the U.S.

 

For more information, visit AutoUSA’s web site, subscribe to our blog at http://blog.autousadealers.com, follow us on Twitter @AutoUSALeads and “Like” us on Facebook at /AutoUSADealers

 

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Most Internet marketing experts will agree that driving traffic to your website results in the most valuable leads you can get – if you can convert visitors into leads. Just like the old adage, “volume is vanity, gross is sanity,” your website traffic is only worthwhile if you’re effectively converting it into sales opportunities.

 

According to an advertising efficacy study by Dataium, an average of 55 percent of dealerships’ online advertising budgets are devoted to paid search engine marketing, but just six percent of dealership website traffic is referred by paid search keywords, and less than one percent of this traffic resulted in email form leads submitted on dealership websites. While effective SEO/SEM campaigns are necessary up to a certain point, eventually the law of diminishing returns kicks in. How much more are you willing to spend for a search term that attracts 100 more unique visitors when only one or two of those visitors will convert into leads?

 

Compounding the challenge of effective SEM campaigns is the cost. Many website vendors and Internet marketing gurus push dealers to pay more for “their” search terms because other parties-- competitors, independent lead providers, auto shopping websites-- are all buying up the search terms and bidding up prices. To some extent, this is true: it's open competition, and automotive retail isn't the only industry subject to it. Companies in every industry must aggressively compete to attract online customers with increasingly sophisticated SEM campaigns.

 

Since search is now integrated into the consumer’s everyday experience, it’s also important to pay attention to changing consumer behavior and modify your campaigns accordingly. According to a study by Slingshot SEO, more than 80% of search terms today use five or six keywords. Users are becoming more sophisticated with their search terms and demanding results that deliver exactly what they're looking for. If you are a Toyota dealer in Chicago and you think you can attain a page one search engine ranking simply by paying a lot for the terms "Toyota" and "Chicago," or your website content is the same as it’s been since you optimized it for search 5 years ago, you will be disappointed.

 

As the competition, sophistication, and challenges increase, your ability to convert precious, valuable search-generated traffic must improve. The average conversion rate for dealership websites is estimated to be between two and four percent. Some dealers claim conversion rates more than double this percentage. What if you could double the number of leads you receive from your dealership website, without spending a penny more on SEO/SEM campaigns? Increasing conversion is the key to achieving this goal.

 

To convert more visitors, try this three-pronged approach:

 

1) Content. Keep the content on your website engaging, up-to-date, educational, and include "calls to action" on every page. Also be sure that your content supports your brand consistently. If you're a family-owned business heavily involved in your community, ensure that your website content reflects and promotes this.

 

2) Conversion Tools. An increasing number of tools are available that are designed to engage visitors and keep them on your website. Chat applications are one of the most successful conversion tools; so are payment marketing tools like trade-in calculators and shop-by-payment tools like Payment Pro. Incentives and coupons have all been shown to increase conversion rates.

 

3) Marketing. Conversion tools will convert, but only to the extent that your website visitors know about them and use them. Don't expect them to just stumble across the latest tool or gadget on your site and start using it, unless they know what to expect. For instance, if you have a payment marketing tool, create a marketing campaign to educate your customers about their credit score and to let them know they can get accurate payment quotes without affecting their credit score. A full-blown marketing campaign might include the following elements: e-mail, a dedicated area on your website landing page featuring the benefits of shopping by payment, a blog, a video of one of your salespeople explaining the benefits, geo-targeted banner ads, and more.

 

If you have found that funneling more of your budget into SEO/SEM campaigns isn't getting you a proportional increase in website visitors, try focusing on increasing your conversion rate. Customers will stay on your site if they find what they are looking for, so figure out what that is and provide it to them to increase your website lead count and quality.

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It's that time again! AutoUSA is collecting responses to its annual Fall Internet Marketing survey. Sales Managers, Sales Directors, Internet Sales Managers, BDC Managers, Internet Directors, General Managers, dealer principals and others involved in auto dealership Internet Marketing are invited to participate.

 

The survey is just 15 questions and will take less than 15 minutes to complete. When all responses are collected, we will randomly select one survey participant to receive a $300 Visa gift card. But you can't win if you don't answer the questions! Please click on the link below to get started, and in less time than it takes to finish your cup of coffee, you will be entered into the prize drawing. In order to be eligible for the prize, you must work at a dealership and be a resident of the U.S. or Canada.

 

Thank you so much for your time and participation!

 

Click here to get started:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AutoUSAFall2013AIS

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Stop Stressing Credits, Focus On Selling Cars

 

I am seeing a disturbing trend happening in our industry. A lot of dealers are focusing way too much on getting credits from 3rd party providers instead of focusing that energy on selling cars. Now, before you react. Please read the rest of this article.

 

Remember that I was an Internet Director (5+ years) before I started my company. Now for almost 10 years now I have been building Internet Sales departments and Business Development Centers. I say this just to show that I am not “pro vendor or anti-dealer”. I am a Car-Guy and all I care about is selling cars. And it seems that there is a trend with Dealers that are so focused on getting credits with leads. Some dealers spend so much time trying to track down credits it diminishes the amount of time following up with actual prospects. I am NOT suggesting that you should not be compensated for leads that are invalid or duplicates. I am just expressing my concern with Dealers that spend so much time focusing on trying to get credit for leads. Actually grinding their reps for more credit(s). I have clients that do it sometimes for sport. I said clients, so I know it’s a fact. Some dealers demand credits because they know that most lead source providers will concede rather than argue with a dealer or possibly lose a client over something as silly as a credit. There are dealers that sometimes not choose a particular lead source provider because of their “Lead Credit Policy”, or worse even cancel a 3rd party lead source provider or aggregator because they didn’t get a credit or the amount of credit back they thought they were owed. 

 

This blows my mind because the average cost per lead in the United States is only $20 (give or take a couple of dollars).  The upside is off the charts. If a dealer buys 100 leads at $2,000 and sells 10 percent (10 units) with an average Front and Back, total gross of $2,000 per copy. That is $20,000 Gross. The Return On Investment (ROI) is SICK!! We are talking about a Net profit of $18,000 from 1 lead source provider. Especially when you compare it to traditional advertising. NADA says that the average cost per sale in advertising is $640+ per car. In the model I just mentioned, 10 units sold out of 100 leads at $2,000 per copy means that the 3rd party lead source provider model is ONLY $200 per car sold. That is less than 1/3 of what the AVERAGE dealership in this country sells cars for.

 

Here is the problem; most dealers forget that leads are NOT magical beans or silver bullets. They forget that they have to work at these leads. And when I say “work”, I mean WORK and work them hard. Dealers need to have the following:

 

  • A Follow Up Process – Dealers need to have a realistic follow up process for email, phone and social media (Yes, I said social media. Social Media is the #1 form of communication on this planet).  They need to not just say “we need to follow up via email, phone and social media”. There needs to be an EXACT formula mapped out. The formula needs to be realistic and logical and take into account that the average buying cycle is 45-90 days. NOT 37 days. Also, the follow up process needs to be tailored to the fact that the average Internet sales prospect is also engaging 5-8 other dealers or websites… 

 

  • Content – Dealers need to have a powerful library of content. Email Templates, Phone Scripts, Word Tracks, Objections / Rebuttals, Value Package Proposition (Why buy from us message).

 

  • People / HR – Dealers need to have the right amount of people in the department or the right amount of people in the dealership that are working the Internet Leads. A lot of dealers have too many leads and not enough people or the opposite… too many people and not enough leads. Both are bad problems (That can be fixed). But its not just not having the right amount of people. Dealers need to have the RIGHT people in the right positions. The right scheduling and pay plans are also imperative for success within an Internet Sales Department or BDC.

 

  • Training – Dealers need to train their people with what to do, when to do it, how to do it and most importantly why they are doing it.

 

  • TO protocol- There needs to be a 100% “TO” process in place with ALL Internet prospects. Just like most dealers and all successful dealerships believe in a 100% TO protocol for showroom prospects. So should the Internet department. Too many times dealerships “burn” through Internet Ups without any accountability.

 

  • Culture – Dealerships that instill a culture that ALL leads are good leads. ALL 3rd Party leads are AWESOME will be tremendously successful. It’s the dealers that allow Internet or BDC reps to “pre-qualify” leads or allow reps to say that a certain lead “sucks”… those dealerships will be inundated with “bad leads” that suck.  Dealers that teach their Internet / BDC teams that a lead is ONLY a “lead” it is an opportunity to sell an automobile. NOTHING MORE. It is a name, sometimes a phone number, sometimes an email address. BUT if you receive a lead without an email address or phone number instead of worrying about a credit (at first). FOCUS on trying to ascertain that contact information. For example dealers can:

 

  •  Open up the original lead within the ILM /CRM and see if the lead didn’t parse
  • Reverse look up via 411
  • Reverse look up via www.anywho.com or www.whitepages.com
  • Thorough reverse look up with www.spokeo.com
  • Reverse look up via social media (cut and past prospect’s email address into Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc…

 

Bottom line is that 3rd party providers have tremendous value. To realize that true value, dealers need to be prepared for these leads and have a proactive mindset that leads are gateways to opportunities to sell an automobile. Its not a guarantee, only an opportunity to do business. It is up to us how we maximize that opportunity.

 

If you have any questions about this article or if you would like me to review your Dealership’s Internet or BDC lead follow up process. Please email me at sean@dealersynergy.com or call me on my cell at 267-319-6776.

 

I look forward to seeing you at the upcoming www.internetsales20group.com that AutoUSA is a Platinum Sponsor in Los Angeles, November 12-14 

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Take Our Survey for a Chance to Win $300!

It's that time again! AutoUSA is collecting responses to its annual Fall Internet Marketing survey. Sales Managers, Sales Directors, Internet Sales Managers, BDC Managers, Internet Directors, General Managers, dealer principals and others involved in auto dealership Internet Marketing are invited to participate.

 

The survey is just 15 questions and will take less than 15 minutes to complete. When all responses are collected, we will randomly select one survey participant to receive a $300 Visa gift card. But you can't win if you don't answer the questions! Please click on the link below to get started, and in less time than it takes to finish your cup of coffee, you will be entered into the prize drawing. In order to be eligible for the prize, you must work at a dealership and be a resident of the U.S. or Canada.

 

Thank you so much for your time and participation!

 

Click here to get started:http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AutoUSAFall2013AIS

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2013 is shaping up to be a good year for auto retailers, with sales expected to top 15 million for the first time since 2007. Several contributing factors to this success are credit-related, with more consumers qualifying for loans, lengthier terms and rising interest rates.

 

In its June 2013 State of the Automotive Finance report, Experian documents that subprime loans are on the rise again and that consumers within all credit tiers were able to obtain financing in Q1 of 2013. Most notably, loans going to consumers with credit outside of prime jumped to 45% percent of the overall loan market in Q1 2013, up from 44% percent in Q1 2012.

 

Many car buyers were taken out of the market over the last few years thanks to tight credit standards, and they may not understand that the market now provides them with options they didn’t have before.

 

Here’s how to leverage the latest credit trends:

 

1) Consumers Qualifying for Loans with Lower Credit Scores

 

If you track why people don’t buy from you, now is the time to go through your CRM and contact all prospects that were rejected for loans in the last few years. Create an e-mail marketing campaign letting them know that lenders are easing up on credit conditions and that your dealership may be able to help them finance a new or used car now.

 

2) Lengthier Loans Becoming the Norm

 

According to Experian, 63% of car loans in Q1 of 2013 were for more than five years, and about 20% were for more than six years. Lenders are finding that consumers are less likely to walk away from their cars than they are from their homes, and therefore auto loans are less risky.

 

Showing a low, teaser-style payment is attractive, but a comparative payment helps consumers make a decision. Show prospects a comparison on how extending the length of a loan may help to lower their monthly payment, and it’s both helpful to them and a “forced choice” close.

 

Amount Financed

Length of Loan

Interest Rate

Monthly Payment

$20,000

5 Years

4%

$368

$20,000

7 Years

4%

$273

 

 

 

3) Rising Interest Rates Help Create Sense of Urgency

 

The average interest rate for a five-year new car loan is around 4.08% according to Bankrate.com, down slightly from 4.46% a year ago. That’s still very low, but recent spikes in U.S. Treasury bond rates and mortgage interest rates have sparked fears that the Fed may have to raise interest rates before their target date of 2015.

 

If a prospect says they may wait a while to buy, tell them it would be prudent to lock in a low interest rate auto loan sooner rather than later. The media’s your friend here since they’ve been focusing on the effect of rising interest rates on housing purchases. Provide your customers with a calculation of what their desired car will cost them with a 4% interest rate compared to 6% over the course of a five-year loan. For instance:

 

Amount Financed

Length of Loan

Interest Rate

Monthly Payment

$20,000

5 Years

4%

$368

$20,000

5 Years

6%

$386

 

A difference of $20 a month may not seem like much, but over five years the higher interest rate adds an additional $1,200 in finance charges. Car buyers could use that extra money for a vacation somewhere (in their new vehicle!)

 

 

Finally, extend this philosophy to your website to increase your conversion rate. Having payment marketing tools on your website, such as Payment Pro’s Shop-By-Payment, combined with a targeted marketing campaign that shows customers their financing options will help drive buyers to your website. 

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Back in 2009, the team of Mike and Maaike, the designers behind Google’s G1 Phone among other innovations, released a concept design for the car of the future. Lost behind the futuristic glass enclosure and auto-drive capabilities were the reasons they undertook the project: “Freed from the monotony of driving, we can enjoy quality time while in transit: socializing, gaming, movies, business, videocalls, web surfing, sleeping or discovering new places with powerful voice controlled search and navigation.”

 

We’re a car culture. Our manufacturers continue to advertise power, performance, passion, heritage and sex appeal—but the next generation of buyers is less interested in that than they are in engagement, connection, impact and lifestyle. To them, driving is a distraction from their life.

 

In 2010, the millennials (the current 16-34-year-old demographic) surpassed the baby boomers as the largest generation in the United States, with more than 77 million members, or one in four Americans. Inevitably—and soon— they will buy more cars, get married, buy houses and have families. At the same time baby boomers are retiring and driving less, so understanding how to sell to millennials will be critical to your dealership’s success.

 

When you are able to identify the approximate age of an Internet lead, how do you respond to those in the 16-34 age group? Here are a few tips on how to respond to millennial Internet leads:

 

1) Price is Important….: The millennials have had a tough time establishing careers in this down economy, as evidenced by a 16% unemployment rate in their age range. Many also graduated college with student debt. Lack of finances is one big contributor to why many of them aren’t currently buying cars. If you notice their inquiry is on a “budget” car, respond by sending links to similarly priced vehicles, both used and new.

 

You may also want to bring up financing options with millennials sooner rather than later, so you don’t spend a lot of time selling them a car they can’t afford. Fortunately, credit restrictions for auto purchases have been easing lately. Offer to help them become qualified, and send links to whatever payment marketing tools are on your website. If you have a new generation shop-by-payment tool, they will be able to peruse your inventory based on what their monthly budget is.

 

2) ….But Not as Important as the “Feel Good” Factor. Although millennials may be looking for value, giving them the bottom line price is not guaranteed to get you the sale. In general, neither will selling the features of the car. Less than 15% of millennials describe themselves as “car enthusiasts,” compared to 30% of baby boomers,* making a car more of a commodity than an emotional purchase.

 

Most millennials want to “feel good” about what they’re buying. In a 2010 Pew Research Center study, more millennials said “Helping Others In Need” is more important than “Owning a Home.” So if it’s a hybrid, emphasize the benefits to the environment. If your dealership is involved in the local community, try to weave in a conversation about a charity you recently helped out, or other social benefit that your dealership has provided. Another strategy is to share YouTube ads from the brands they inquired about, to help them decide which brands they identify with.

 

3) Let Others Do the Talking. Millennials are extremely active with social media and use the Internet to do most of their research. In general, they trust the opinions of their friends and the masses before they trust recommendations from a salesperson. If possible, let your social media platforms and online review sites do as much of the “selling” as possible for you and your dealership. Send them links to the objective, third-party research sites, to your online review sites and especially to any reviews that may specifically mention you, the salesperson. If you don’t have any video testimonials from customers, get some, then send the links to those on your YouTube channel.

 

4) Don’t Pressure Too Much, but Don’t Give Up. Millennials are in a state of “constant consideration,” so if they don’t respond to your request for an appointment, or stop responding entirely, don’t give up. It may be they’ve backed off the idea of purchasing for the moment. Chances are they will still purchase in the next 90 days, and when they do it will be with someone who they have built a rapport with.

 

5) Use Your CRM For Communication Preferences. Millennials expect companies to do business with them on their terms. This means if they prefer to text, you should be texting them (or your competitor who does text them will be the one to engage with them).

 

 

The millennials now outnumber boomers, and their growing purchasing power will soon be felt. What tips do you have to market to this tech-savvy generation?

 

# # #

 

*Statistics taken from the Spring 2013 research report “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future” by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

 

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Five Benefits of Shop-By-Payment Tools

I’ve often advocated in my blogs the benefits of quoting a price to customers who submit leads with a price inquiry. If the customer is submitting leads to more than one dealership, not providing the price will likely eliminate you from consideration.

 

Yet, according to CNW Marketing Research, 70.5% of people finance their cars. That means the vast majority of Internet leads will take the price quoted to them and then try to determine what their monthly payment will be. As we all know, monthly payments can vary based on the consumer’s credit score, the dealership’s finance programs and the specific vehicle the customer wants to buy. So the customer searching for the lowest priced vehicle today may still not end up with a vehicle that fits within their monthly budget for the next 60, 72 or even 96 months!

 

If we can move the conversation from price to payments, we can identify the right vehicle earlier in the process, saving the customer time and aggravation, and saving the dealership gross. One way to shift the conversation to monthly payments is to offer and promote payment—and shop-by-payment—marketing tool on your dealership’s website. A shop-by-payment tool allows consumers to search your inventory based on what their ideal monthly payment is and displays inventory based on real, credit-qualified payment quotes. An estimated or teaser quote can set the wrong expectation, but one based on the customer’s actual credit and the dealership’s finance programs sets both the customer and the dealer up for success.

 

Allowing consumers to shop-by-payments on your website offers the following benefits:

 

1)    Keeps Customers on the Dealership’s Website. Customers come to your site to find answers, not more questions. If you are asking the customer to provide all their information, such as what their credit score is or what interest rate they may qualify for, they may have to go off of your website and find the information on another site. A shop-by-payment tool allows the customer to see all the inventory on your website that they qualify for, without having to look for the information somewhere else. The tool is also interactive, enabling the customer to adjust payment ranges, down payments and other information so that it engages the customer, keeps them on the website longer and results in higher conversion rates.

 

2)    Protects Customers’ Privacy. Real payments can be quoted to customers without requiring them to enter in personal information, such as date of birth or Social Security Number, and without having a negative impact on their credit score. This is appealing to customers and allows them to play around with various terms and different vehicles, further engaging them and bringing them that much closer to the sale. Since most good-credit customers don’t want to affect their credit score until absolutely necessary, the result is often more leads from customers with higher average credit ratings.

 

3)    Credit-Analyzed Leads Close at a Higher Rate. The ability to analyze a consumer’s credit online brings them one step closer to the sale. Closing rates for these leads are typically much higher than for unqualified leads, often exceeding 20%.

 

4)    Streamlines the Sales Process. Providing real payment quotes on VIN-specific vehicles sets the customers’ expectation on what they can actually afford to buy, versus what they would like to buy. This eliminates unnecessary time that salespeople spend trying to sell a car that the person can’t afford, while also eliminating the “embarrassment” factor for the customer if they can’t afford the car they really want.

 

5)    Keeps Dealers in Control of Financing. Providing real payment quotes shifts the customer’s focus from what the bottom-line price is to what they can afford to pay every month. This allows dealers to set their own prices and financing terms and gives them more flexibility in negotiations, unlike lead services that force dealers into price wars in order to deliver the lowest price for the consumer. Ultimately, this results in higher gross profit margins for the dealers.

 

 

Providing a shop-by-payment tool helps to engage customers, keep them online and bring them closer to the sale. Today’s payment marketing technology delivers real benefits to both dealers and consumers, resulting in high-quality, credit-analyzed leads that close at rates much higher than traditional Internet leads. To see a demo, visit www.anywheremotors.com

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It’s pretty well known that YouTube is the second largest search engine with more than 4 billion views per day. While your dealership isn’t likely to produce the next “Gangnam Style” YouTube sensation, your presence on and use of YouTube can be part of a successful online strategy. If you allocate a significant budget towards SEO and SEM, you may want to think about allocating a percentage of it to increasing the number and types of videos on your dealership’s YouTube channel. Videos have been proven to engage customers, boost credibility and drive traffic to websites.

 

If you’re not already incorporating these five types of videos into your Internet marketing plans, consider adding them in 2013:

 

1)    Inventory. Posting inventory videos on YouTube is very effective when a link to your website and relevant search term keywords are included in the description. Also post the videos on your website and Facebook page. Then, post links from classified ads sites like Craigslist. Craigslist gets more than 50 billion views per month, and can drive traffic to both your website and Facebook page from customers wanting to view your inventory videos.

 

2)    TV commercials. Most dealers at some point or other have spent a significant amount of money on creating commercials. Are you maximizing that investment by uploading your old commercials to YouTube and posting them on your website? If a commercial was to promote a specific event such as a Labor Day sale, you may want to include something in the description that encourages customers to keep in touch for news about this year’s Labor Day sale.

 

 

3)    Videos that brand your dealership. Customers want to feel good about who they are buying a car from. Whether you brand yourself as the price leader, the honest, no-haggle dealer, or the small, family-owned dealer, have a professionally produced video that reflects this. Highlight your involvement in community service or incorporate humor if you can, and include your service departments by weaving in expert technician interviews or service advisor maintenance tips.

 

4)    Customer testimonials. Word of mouth and online reviews have tremendous impact on customer consideration. Potential customers want to know what your current customers have to say. What better way to advertise than combining both of these effective marketing methods in a series of testimonial videos? The key to making this successful is to keep testimonials current. If a customer sees that your last testimonial was posted more than six months ago, they may wonder if your service has been slipping.

 

 

5)    Personalized videos for lead follow-up. Have you ever received a personalized video message in your e-mail? I did recently and it got my attention. If you want a customer to think, “Wow, this person actually took the time and effort to create this video just for me,” then you may want to consider this idea. If you are a salesperson who is comfortable and personable on camera, sending a customized video to select Internet leads is a surefire way to outperform your competition.

 

Which types of videos have you found to be the most effective in increasing traffic to your dealership website? Are you able to track leads that come in as a result of your videos? 

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This is the third in a series of blogs I’ve been writing on metrics: in my last blog we discussed the average percentage of sales in dealerships that can be attributed to Internet leads. This week, I’d like to talk about average front-end gross per vehicle.

 

In a recent survey we conducted, we asked dealerships representing all types of makes and models:

 

These were the two questions related to front-end gross in the survey:

1) What is the average front-end gross per vehicle sold in the showroom (floor sales) in your store?

 

2) What is the average front-end gross per vehicle sold in the Internet department in your store?

 

We wanted to first quantify the difference between gross from showroom sales and Internet sales, and we wanted to compare the averages of stores in different “performance brands.”

 

Here are the survey results:

 

• 29% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the showroom is > $1,300

• 15% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the Internet department is > $1,300

 

At the same time:

• 9% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the showroom is < $800

• 21% of respondents said the average front-end gross per vehicle in the Internet department is < $800

 

It’s clear there’s quite a disparity between averages in the showroom and the Internet department. We consulted David Kain of Kain Automotive on this question, because he believes (and the survey results reflect this), that most Internet salespeople tend to discount too soon. This tendency leads to lower front-end gross averages in the Internet department.

 

Regardless of what your dealership’s average gross per vehicle (PVR) is, the goal is for the showroom and Internet department averages to be the same. Why is this important? The higher the gross per vehicle, the higher your ROI and profits are.

 

We compared answers from dealerships making seven times or more ROI on their Internet spend, to those making three times or less ROI on their Internet spend, regardless of make or model. The results were compelling:

 

Internet Department ROI

Showroom PVR > $1300

Internet PVR > $1300

< 4x

21%

7%

> 6x

58%

44%

 

So how can you increase your average front-end gross per vehicle, as well as get the Internet department gross in line with the showroom gross? Here are a few tips:

 

1)    Always provide the customer with choices and carefully review leads for model selection and trim levels. If you’re quoting your customer the loss leader or base model and they want the luxury model, then you’re setting them up for a price expectation way lower than is reasonable.

2)    Just like when you’re face-to-face with a customer, focus on building value in the vehicles. Customers want to know what they’re buying is worth the money, and you have the opportunity to explain why the price is what the price is

3)    Don’t be tempted to immediately give a discount, and be wary of programs that send inventory selections to customers with quotes designed to beat your competition or that are loss leaders. Big discount quotes make the customer believe all vehicles can be significantly discounted.

4)    Mystery shop your competition from time to time on key vehicles to ensure you’re pricing your vehicles to market.

5)    Consider location. If a customer is close to you, then price in the convenience of shopping with you. If the customer lives 20 miles away and has to drive past multiple competitors in order to get to your store, you may be more aggressive in your pricing.

6)    Set the rules in the Internet department based on what vehicles are selling for in the showroom. If they know the ‘floor’ price, you’re less likely to have a significant discrepancy between the showroom and the Internet gross.

 

What other tips do you have to raise the average front-end gross per vehicle, and more importantly, to increase the averages in the Internet departments to be more in line with showroom averages?

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The Truth About 3rd Party Lead Source Providers, Aggregators & Online Classifieds

I hear all the time that “these leads suck”, “those leads suck” etc… The truth is that most of the times it is NOT the 3rd party provider, aggregator or online classified that “sucks”. It might be several other issues such as:

  • People
    •  There might be too many leads and not enough people to work the leads. If this is the case your dealership won’t be able to put the proper amount of time, energy, focus into cultivating that prospect into an in store appointment. Remember, Internet prospects have a 45-90 day “gestation” period.
    • Or reverse, you might not have enough leads…
    • “Cherry Picking” of leads…
    • You might not have the proper schedule in place. For example, the “prime time” to connect with prospects is between 6-8pm and if there is no one working the leads during that time or if the department or the dealership is closed at that time then you obviously miss out and this will affect the “connection ratio” with your prospects
    • Process –
      • This is a BIG ONE! I see over and over again dealerships that have a BAD process. They ONLY email, or they ONLY phone call, or they ONLY follow up with the prospect for a certain amount of time and assume this lead “sucks” and then they “dead” the lead.
      • Dealers assume leads with “No Phone Number” or “Wrong Phone Number” are “Bad Leads” but that is NOT true! What do you expect for $20? A closed deal? A guaranteed commission? No, what you get for a $20 “lead” is an OPPORTUNITY… That is all. There are no magic beans, there are no silver bullets. It is up to the dealership to cultivate that opportunity into an in store appointment. So, if you have a “lead” with no phone number or a wrong phone number then you should:
        • Open up the original lead in your CRM / ILM because sometimes the prospect info doesn’t parse
        • Call 4-1-1 and do a reverse look up
        • Go to www.anywho.com
        • Utilize Social Medial to find additional contact information. Some CRMs have Social Media integration just for purposes like this!
        • (Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc…)
        • Technology –
          • I can NOT stress this enough… technology is one of the biggest culprits for mistakes, poor numbers, the illusion of “Bad leads”. What happens is that the dealership might not have set up the CRM / ILM the right way or they set it up but it wasn’t managed or up kept the right way so it might get congested, it can become a mess. The best analogy is a file cabinet that has only one drawer, no folders and no color tabs for the (non) folders… CHAOS!

With all of that being said, there is a HUGE value for having 3rd Party Providers, Aggregators and Classified Listings. But before I get into that I do want to stress that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. A dealership should diversify their marketing and specifically their digital marketing efforts with SEO, VSEO, Video Pre-Roll, PPC, Social Media and 3rd Party Sources.

If you are going to utilize 3rdy Party Lead Source Providers, Aggregators and Classified listings make sure:

  • You know what type of “leads” you are looking for. Each lead source provider has its own “specialty” some 3rd Party Sources specialize in New Car Leads, some specialize in Used Car Leads and others specialize in Special Finance Leads. I know that a lot of these companies offer both. I suggest you identify what your wants and needs are and find a 3rd party provider that fits your exact need and wants.
  • Do your research investigate all of the “Major” 3rd Party providers and ask them to do a “Market Analysis” on your market for the last 30, 60, 90 days. How many leads did they generate or were available through their network. Also ask for them to provide those numbers on different radiuses.
  • Remember that the farther out you go from your dealership, the lower the closing ratio. I am not saying don’t go too far. I am just stating a fact.
  • What you can do is secure a radius that is close to your dealership. Maybe you use your PMA given to you from your OEM or a certain mile circumference around your dealership (20, 30, 40 miles etc…) And then surgically creating smaller perimeters around your direct and indirect competitors. For example, lets say you secure a 35 mile radius around your dealership that generates you 100 new car leads. Lets also say you have 4 direct competitors within a 75 mile radius. Instead of just securing a “blanket” 75 mile perimeter around your dealership you secure that 35 mile radius that is yielding you 100 leads and then you can secure maybe a 5-10 mile radius perimeter directly around YOUR COMPETIROS, using their zip codes. This way you are focusing your energy more surgically.

Bottom line, 3rd Party Providers, Aggregators & Online Classifieds are a powerful resource if and only if we utilize them the right way.

If you have any questions about this article or you would like a list of lead source providers please contact me at seanb@dealersynergy.com or call me at 267-319-6776

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Fort Lauderdale, FL – September 24th, 2012— AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions (www.autousadealers.com) announced today the availability of a free white paper for auto dealers, titled Pre-Qualified Payment Marketing: Converting Online Car Shoppers to Customers. The white paper gives an overview of the current payment marketing options offered by dealers to their online customers, outlining the benefits and drawbacks of each. The paper then compares these options to Payment Pro powered by DriveItNow®, a new product that offers online customers instant, real payment quotes and delivers pre-qualified leads to auto dealers. In addition, the white paper shares proven results in a case study featuring Grubbs Nissan in Dallas, Texas.

“Since we launched Payment Pro in early August, we have received many inquiries from dealers about how this revolutionary payment marketing option impacts the bottom line,” said Mike Shawd, Vice President, Sales of AutoUSA. “This white paper demonstrates exactly how Payment Pro works, how it differs from other available tools and how it converts more online shoppers into pre-qualified leads from the dealer’s own website that close at an average of 20%.”

The white paper delves into what is most important to consumers in the car buying process, including:

•  The answer to the question, “What is the monthly payment and how does my credit affect it?” Most customers know their monthly budget, but often don’t know the corresponding vehicle cost to achieve their target monthly payment.

•  Completing most of the car buying process online before talking to a dealer, and progressing themselves down the sales funnel at their own pace.

•  Protecting personal information; most consumers don’t want to share their social security numbers, date of birth etc. and don’t want their credit scores affected with credit checks.

•  A desire for information provided by car dealers to be more complete and more accurate.

In addition, the white paper outlines the benefits of prequalified payment marketing:

• Close more existing website visitors

• Increased leads & closing ratios

• Keeps consumer engaged

• Consumers are less likely to consider alternative financing

• Additional F&I profit per deal

• Builds consumer confidence

• Highly qualified prospects

• No negative impact on consumer’s credit score

• No personal sensitive information required

• Eliminates discriminatory lending

• FCRA Compliant

Pre-Qualified Payment Marketing: Converting Online Car Shoppers to Customers with Payment Pro is available for free download at: http://www.autousadealers.com/DisplayDocList.aspx?DocId=126

About AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions

AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions brings the best-in-class tools to increase Internet sales and lower costs for automotive dealerships. Leading products include Payment Pro, a payment-based pre-qualification tool for dealer websites; ShowPro incentive program, proven to turn more leads into shows; Leads&Listings, providing the highest quality, new and used car email and phone leads from 100+ sites; PowerListings 2.0, helping dealers increase traffic to—and leads from—their social media sites; and AVA Virtual Sales Assistant, helping dealerships manage more leads at a reduced cost. AutoUSA products are currently benefiting thousands of active dealers all across the U.S. For more information, visit AutoUSA’s web site, subscribe to our blog at http://blog.autousadealers.com, follow us on Twitter @ and “Like” us on Facebook at /AutoUSADealers

About DriveItNow (http://www.DriveItNow.com)

DriveItNow is a patent pending payment marketing technology service of Automobile Consumer Services, Inc. (ACS). ACS leads the industry with innovative proprietary technology, superior customer service, and over twenty years of auto financing and leasing experience.

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As a follow up to my recent blog on Internet Lead ROI, I would like to discuss another important metric for dealerships to track: the percentage of a store’s sales that can be attributed to Internet leads. Just like Internet lead ROI is not a simple formula that everyone can agree on, the percentage of sales that can be attributed to the Internet is not easy to measure.

 

In a recent survey we asked 184 dealership personnel this question: What percentage of your store’s overall sales is generated by the Internet department? Fully half (50%) of the respondents reported they were in the 20-40% range. Only 15% of respondents reported less than 20%, while 35% of respondents reported their dealerships attributed more than 40% of their sales to Internet leads.

 

Why such a disparity? I’m guessing that not every dealership answers the following question in the same way:

 

How do you define an Internet customer?

 

Since roughly 90% of your customers use the Internet before coming into the dealership, you could argue that 90% of sales are coming from the Internet, and that many of those customers don’t e-mail beforehand—they just call or walk in. But the opposite can also be true. One dealer group I know of, Homer Skelton dealerships in Tennessee, recently created a promotion for their new Payment ProSM feature on their website. The dealer group ran a radio campaign and produced a television commercial promoting that customers could pre-qualify for “real payments” without giving their social security number or date of birth. When the traditional ads ran, Homer Skelton saw a huge spike in visits to their website, which then turned into pre-qualified website leads. So are these Internet leads, or should they be attributed to the traditional ad campaign?

 

Although it may be difficult to arrive at an industry standard for what the definition of an Internet sale is, your dealership should have its own definition. Just as important as a standard measurement is tracking the performance over time so you can identify growth opportunities.

 

Best Practices for Improving Closing Percentages

.

The most effective way to increase the percentage of sales attributed to Internet leads is to improve the closing percentages of your current Internet lead volume.

 

From the same survey I mentioned above, we filtered responses from the highest-performing dealerships based on the metrics they shared. The most successful Internet departments claimed the following best practices were critical in order to make an Internet department successful:

1)    Quality & Speed of Lead Response (72%)

2)    Website search visibility (66%)

3)    Management Buy-In and Support (61%) and Staff Training & Accountability (61%) tied for third.

 

Other choices and responses included: quality of leads (58%); quality of staff (42%); tracking & measurement of leads and ROI (33%); online reputation (33%); quality of online merchandising (33%); written policies and procedures that are closely adhered to (22%); lead mix (17%); social media involvement (14%); and number of leads per person (14%).

 

Dealers continue to stress how critical it is to have a process in place to prevent salespeople from closing out their own leads. It’s too easy for them to say “this lead is bad,” or “that lead isn’t valid,” and simply close out those leads, which results in a higher reported closing percentage—albeit a false one. It’s no different than if 100 customers walk through the door and 10% of those customers are lot drops, and then you calculate the closing percentage of 90 customers instead of 100.

 

At most dealerships, a valid lead is one that comes in with good contact information; but I have heard some salespeople say a valid lead is one that returns their attempt to contact within three days. How many customers return a single call or e-mail? Most of the time, it takes repeated attempts to get through to a customer.

 

So I bring up many questions here, and I’m looking forward to everybody’s responses. I think it’s important to discuss metrics so that eventually, an industry standard or benchmarks can be established, to which all dealerships can compare themselves.

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AutoUSA Introduces Payment ProSM Powered by DriveItNow®, Payment-Qualified Website Leads for Auto Dealers 

 

Fort Lauderdale, FL – July 31st, 2012 – AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions (www.autousadealers.com) today introduced Payment ProSM powered by DriveItNow®, a payment-based conversion tool for auto dealer websites. Payment ProSM is a service that provides online shoppers with instant, real car loan payments based on individual credit and inventory eligibility, generating pre-qualified, first-party leads from dealer websites.

 With Payment ProSM, consumers click on a button showing real payments on any vehicle listing on a dealer’s website. A form appears that the shopper fills out, but no social security number or birth date is required. Based on the individual’s entered criteria, the system determines their credit eligibility without impacting the consumer’s credit score, instantly displays personalized monthly payment options, and delivers the dealer a dramatically-enhanced lead.

“Payment ProSM is good for the dealer because it shifts the shopper’s focus from what the lowest price is to what they can afford every month,” said Phil DuPree, President of AutoUSA. “The leads generated from these inquiries open the door for immediate engagement and more seamless negotiations.”

Payment ProSM offers auto dealers the following benefits:

  • Converts more traffic on dealer websites because consumers want to know monthly payment options based on their credit.
  • Generates the industry’s first dealer-website lead that includes the customer’s credit eligibility and desired payment from dealers’ own websites, resulting in high-closing prospects.
  • Eliminates wasted time showing customers vehicles they can’t afford, as well as time spent negotiating.
  • Puts dealers in charge of setting their own prices and financing terms, unlike lead services that force dealers into price wars in order to deliver the lowest price for the consumer while lowering gross profit margins.
  • Shifts consumer focus to monthly affordability, giving dealers more flexibility in pricing and negotiations.

Payment ProSM is a new service powered by DriveItNow’s patent-pending technology.  “We chose to partner with AutoUSA because of their tremendous industry reputation of bringing best-in-class tools to the market to increase Internet sales for automotive dealers,” said Tarry Shebesta, President of DriveItNow. “The launch of Payment ProSM shows they understand the value of producing high quality leads and the need for payment quoting.

Payment ProSM is available immediately for auto dealer websites and mobile sites. To learn more, visit http://www.paymentprodemo.com or contact your AutoUSA sales representative at 1-800-243-9935.

About AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions

AutoUSA Internet Sales Solutions brings the best-in-class tools to increase Internet sales and lower costs for automotive dealerships. Leading products include Payment ProSM, a payment-based pre-qualification tool for dealer websites; ShowProSM incentive program, proven to turn more leads into shows; Leads&ListingsSM, providing the highest quality, new and used car email and phone leads from 100+ sites; PowerListingsSM 2.0, helping dealers increase traffic to—and leads from—their social media sites; and AVA Virtual Sales Assistant, helping dealerships manage more leads at a reduced cost. AutoUSA products are currently benefiting thousands of active dealers all across the U.S.

For more information, visit AutoUSA’s web site, subscribe to our blog at http://blog.autousadealers.com, follow us on Twitter @AutoUSALeads and “Like” us on Facebook at /AutoUSADealers

About DriveItNow (http://www.DriveItNow.com)


DriveItNow is a patent pending payment marketing technology service of Automobile Consumer Services, Inc. (ACS).  ACS leads the industry with innovative proprietary technology, superior customer service, and over twenty years of auto financing and leasing experience.

 

 

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