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This Internet Sales 20 Group in Boston was such a huge success! We would like to highlight the dealerships that participated in the Composite, especially those who were awarded for their performance. All the winners performed extraordinarily well in their areas and we are so proud of all of the dealers.

The awards were as follows: The SEO Award was given to Toyota of Braintree for having a well implemented SEO strategy that allowed them to consistently show up on the first page of search engines. Route 44 Toyota  was awarded the Social Media trophy for having the most fans, engagement and page impressions across multiple social networking sites.

The award for Credit Miner was a tie between two dealerships, Bernardi Toyota and Toyota of Braintree. Both dealerships had credit applications that were easy to use and responded to applicants in a timely manner. The award for best Mystery Shop went to Westboro Toyota for providing an exceptional call experience with the proper phone scripts, etiquette and overall process.The award for best Online Reputation was received by Berlin City Toyota for the best ratings, most reviews and most interaction based on popular review sites.  

The Response Audit award was given to Toyota of Watertown based on this dealership’s ability to provide confirmation of availability, in addition to information on vehicle information in a timely manner. The award for Website scope was given to Irwin Toyota for having a solid website which included important factors such as an outstanding landing page that provided easy navigation and was filled with customer reviews. The  winner of the overall, best of the best, Pinnacle Award was Toyota of Braintree who excelled in all of the categories analyzed in the composite.

Multiple companies, including Dealer Synergy and many of the Internet Sales 20 Group sponsors, spent over 6 weeks performing complimentary consultations and research in order to collect the data compiled in the composite.28 dealerships were involved in this event’s composite. They were graded and ranked based on 7 Key Performance Indicators, (KPI) - SEO, Social Media, Credit Applications, Mystery Shop Calls, Online Reputation, Response Audit, and Website Scope. Additionally, a lead estimate was conducted, courtesy of Autobytel. They analyzed the lead opportunities in the local areas surrounding each dealership in the composite. Their search radius spanned from 5 to 25 miles. Learning how many opportunities were available to their store was extremely eye opening and proved to be very valuable to participating dealerships.All the work, donated time and resources for this enormous assessment and evaluation has been estimated at a $3,000 value per dealership!

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Below we have outlined the criteria for all seven of the KPI’s and specified exactly what was analyzed:

SEO –This category assessed the dealership’s main website for accessibility on mobile devices and desktops, made sure links worked properly and included proper alt tags, headers and more.  The overall test was how well their sites ranked on search engines based on content and key words.

Social Media- With social media being crucial for exposure, this category looked at total fans, followers and subscribers on the most popular social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  

Mystery Shop- Every dealership received two monitored calls and were graded in the following areas: initial experience, greeting and phone etiquette. Having a basic phone process and a script makes it easy to guarantee you hit all the key points and end the conversation with an appointment.

Online Reputation- Dealerships were graded on their ratings on online review sites such as Google Reviews, Yahoo Local, Yelp!, Dealer Rater, Edmunds, Cars.com, and more. The dealerships were assessed based on the number of reviews, the ratings and their engagement with reviewers.

Response Audit – This category was graded based on the dealership’s ability to provide confirmation of vehicle availability, offer test drives and their overall professionalism while providing details about vehicle inventory.

Website Scope- When assessing websites,  the most important aspects are the ease of use for the customer. We looked for an easy search button for inventory,  explanatory videos, such as a used vehicle walk around, and testimonials. Other aspects included a clear call to action, contact information and a site that was up-to-date and relevant.

Credit Miner Credit Applications – This category looked specifically at credit applications on each dealership’s site. Two key factors were the ease of use and response time after submission. It is important to ensure that dealerships are serving their clientele in the most professional and prompt manner possible.

A Breakdown of the Winners and how you can emulate their success:

SEO: Toyota of Braintree

Why They Won: Toyota of Braintree’s SEO strategy included great keywords, alt tags and meta data. Their content was fresh, relevant and updated consistently so they showed up at the top of results in multiple organic searches.

How You Can Emulate Their Success:  Take time to make sure your content is consistent with what words you want to appear in search engines.  The words you choose affect the visibility of your website in search engines and need to be decided based on your target audience. Meta tags play a major role in this process so it’s important to focus your SEO Strategy around these keywords.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Route 44 Toyota

Why They Won: Route 44 Toyota’s Social Media  had the most engagement, subscribers, fans and interactions with these fans as well as followers. Their content was unique, engaging and professional.

How You Can Emulate Their Success: Do not just make your dealership’s site about just YOUR dealership. Be sure to post relevant stores, industry news, and local activities and events in your community. It’s important to see Social Media as a tool to interact with your customers and potential customers - not just an advertisement platform.

MYSTERY SHOP: Westboro Toyota

Why They Won: This dealership was awarded best Mystery Shop Calls based on good phone etiquette displayed by the coordinators, including greeting and closing and overall, exceeding the needs of the caller.

How You Can Emulate Their Success: It’s important to start with a set guide for how to take and make phone calls. Having a process in place and training your team accordingly ensures that all the right information is gathered, that the customer is heard, and that ultimately, their expectations are met. Starting this way makes it easier to sell the appointment and ultimately, the vehicle.

ONLINE REPUTATION: Berlin City Toyota

Why They Won: Berlin City Toyota had an incredible amount of reviews, was rating highly on all the most popular review sites, and had an appropriate level of engagement with customers who left reviews.

How You Can Emulate Their Success: With everyone able to quickly search for customer reviews, you need to make an effort to have positive reviews online at their fingertips. Be sure to thank anyone that leaves a review and make sure to always be conscious when representing your dealership online, so when engaging negative reviews, but be respectful and courteous.

RESPONSE AUDIT: Toyota of Watertown

Why They Won: The Response Audit award was received based on having the right content with the fastest responses about vehicle availability, test drive and more. They went above and beyond to not only provide information but great customer service.

How to Emulate Their Success: Always remain educated about information at your dealership. At any given time you should be able to provide information about vehicles in stock or that you can access. Having a plan in place for handling responses is important, so training is imperative to guarantee great customer satisfaction.

WEBSITE SCOPE: Irwin Toyota

Why They Won: Irwin Toyota received the Website Scope Award because they had a fantastic overall site. Their landing page had a solid call to action, testimonials from previous customers and easily linked to their inventory, specials and financing pages. Their pages were filled with relevant content, they had no broken links or error pages and the organization of the site made it easy to navigate and get in touch with a sales associate.

How You Can Emulate Their Success: When creating your website make sure you have a clear vision. Make sure all the information displayed about inventory, incentives and calls to action are all clear. Try to think of your site from a customer perspective and keep your content fresh and engaging. Try adding a blog, photos, videos and other multi-media aspects to liven up the site.

CREDIT MINER APPLICATION: Bernardi Toyota and Toyota of Braintree

Why They Won:  These two dealerships tied for Credit Miner Application because both dealerships had great credit applications that were easy to fill out and both had a quick response time.

How You Can Emulate Their Success: It is important to make credit applications easy and simple. Ask enough information but not too much that you turn them off. And make sure they know how important they are to you by responding quickly.

THE PINNACLE AWARD: Toyota of Braintree

Why They Won: Toyota of Braintree scored highly in all of the 7 KPIs with makes them our Pinnacle Award Winner! They combined superior customer service skills with a high online reputation, a great SEO strategy, ease of navigation on their site and were overall very successful in all areas assessed.

How You Can Emulate Their Success: Make sure your dealership has an exceptional website, appears well in search engines, has a call to action and above all make sure you always provide excellent customer service. It seems overwhelming now, but start by improving one area at a time and you’ll start exceeding not only your customers’ expectations, but your own.

We want to congratulate all of the dealers that were highlighted. It was such an honor to acknowledge dealerships in the industry who are succeeding. It’s important to realize this could be you; you could be any of these dealerships! This is your time, learn and excel today! We hope to see you at the next IS20G 7 in New York. Don’t forget: the first 20 dealerships to register for the event in New York will be included in the next Composite. Don’t miss your chance to be part of something amazing!

Visit www.internetsales20group.com for more information about the upcoming event.

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I have no problem weighing in on the subject, particularly when it comes to Internet Sales Departments. I have managed dealerships for 17 years with many different manufacturers in 3 different markets: San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. And for the most part I would say the answer is "it depends". :) I will try to explain my take here:

1.) Dealer 20 groups are typically of the same brand, and over wide markets. So, how many leads should be determined by manufacturer type, PMA, staff, dealership goals, and regional manufacturer's sales volume targets. There should be ratioed expectations, of course. However, the dealers that are really thriving right now are getting back to Sales 101 basics, and they are focusing more on the customer. In addition, there is a great talent pool out there so they are hiring slower and firing faster.

2.) I would want to discuss the origins of the dealership customers themselves. As internet salespeople, they are too often (if not always) called "leads" intsead of "customers". If your dealership is just buying leads and expecting unreasonable results, you need to be sure you have a full plate of your own local market by optimizing your web presense with your home site. How well are you indexing in the major search engine sites like Google, Yahoo and MSN?

3.) I would certainly discuss the quality of these leads, where they are coming from, and how much money those leads are costing. I would hope to discuss all of the lead providers, the quality of their leads overall, and talk to dealers that hold these people accountable for what they are selling you. After all, they are also selling those same leads to your competitors.

4.) I would discuss our home websites as well, particularly the quality of the sites. There should be discussion with other dealers about how they are able to make their dealership very user-freindly and accessible to the potential buyer as well as current owners. How do they optimize those sites? After all, your website is your new "front door".

5.) In terms of ratio expectations, an internet salesperson that can close 15% is great, but what about how they got there. These high-closing salespeople tend to make quick contact with their prospects, and are not afraid to call people.

6.) Good internet salespeople make contact early, but also listen very well to the needs of the potential buyer, which is why they typically average around 35% appointments, 30% of which are confirmed (by a manager or internet director). Of these 30/100 appointments, they should close 15 deals. Your best internet salesperson should be invited to these meetings to discuss their processes.

7.) There also needs to be more emphasis on the perception of the "internet customer". ALL customers now are "internet customers" and some discussion is certainly due to the fact that they are not all there to grind you out on a price. Too much money is left on the table with internet prospects because that money is taken off the table with incorrect perceptions. Not enough attention to selling the value of the dealership, the vehicle and the salesperson.

The internet departments accross the United States are all unique, but share a common goal. To sell more cars! The influence and effect on a dealership of internet departments deserve a 20 Group for sure. However, these Groups need to be more than just number factories and big lunches. Internet 20 Groups need to discuss the "hows" and the "whys" a bit more in detail, have in-depth best practice discussions and hold each other accountable like other 20 Groups.

I would want to have my dealership and the dealerships in my group have some targets to reach between 20 meetings, and hold myself and other members accountable for those targets. If there is some focus on these things, I think the numbers will take care of themselves.

Thanks and I am always available for discussion at rich@dealertraction.com

Rich Mertz

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