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Welcome to NCM's Up to Speed Blog

Improve Your Virtual Dealership

Steve Kain
Written By: Steve Kain
Posted on November 21, 2019

I remember in my early days as a dealer, walking the lot making sure the inventory was lined up in an orderly fashion, no litter on the ground, and the vehicles were clean. Selling cars back then was a lot simpler, and our lot was consistently packed with potential customers. Back then, you needed to visit dealerships to see what inventory was out there, and many customers would spend entire weekends perusing car lots in search of their perfect vehicle. Wow, how things have changed. 

Lately, I’ve heard many statistics talking about how many dealerships customers visit prior to making a purchase. Customers visited an average of 2.3 dealerships in 2018 (down from 2.7 in 2017) before purchasing. It’s clear that people shop fewer dealerships physically than they had in the past. In today’s market, when a customer arrives on your lot, you are one of two dealers they have chosen to do business with. 

If you are looking for increased traffic on your lot, the solution lies in your virtual showroom. Most of our potential customers these days don’t drive into our lot, but instead visit our lot virtually. They use our website to see everything we have to offer, and from there, narrow down their list to their top two-three dealers. If you want that business then you need to make sure your virtual lot is lined up in an orderly fashion, there is no virtual litter on the ground, and all your vehicles are clean and ready to impress. 

Five Ways to Improve Your Virtual Lot:

1. Avoid Aged Pictures 

The biggest thing you can do to make your inventory shine in the eyes of buyers is to ensure you have quality pictures on your website. Nothing can make a vehicle look worse than an aged, poorly-lit, and rushed photo. If you are wanting to drive clicks, your pictures need to be held to a very high standard. 

2. Avoid Out of Season Photos 

It’s not a deal-breaker if your inventory photos show a little snow on the ground, or in the background trees. What is a deal-breaker however, is if there is snow on the ground in your photo and it’s mid-June. Out of season photos only highlight that your inventory isn’t selling, and nobody wants to buy the car rejected by everyone else. Make sure if you have anything seasonal, it is treated as such. 

3. Improve Ease of Purchase 

While you might not have the capability to sell directly on your website, you should make it very easy to have the customer contact you when they are ready. This doesn’t mean you need five pop-ups prompting customers to call, but every inventory page should have one clear call-to-action for a customer who wants to buy. 

4. Improve Website Navigation

Nothing is more frustrating than getting lost on a website, especially when you are looking for something specific. Take a few minutes to explore your website and try to see how easy it is to locate your service department, pricing menus, specific vehicles in your inventory, and take note of any times you feel frustrated. Odds are, others are frustrated as well. 

5. Have Active & Accurate Website Links

The only thing more frustrating than getting lost on a website, is clicking a link only to find it’s broken or directs you to the wrong page. Make sure to have someone actively checks your links, especially after any website updates are completed. 

With the majority of our traffic coming from digital sources, I encourage more dealers and GMs to spend more time scrutinizing their store’s digital experience. In today’s virtual world, I hope that you can take some time to walk your facility virtually on a regular basis. 

Are you looking to improve your dealership’s digital resources? Our automotive experts can help you and your team in a variety of different ways to ensure you are up-to-date on all the digital trends that drive profits in both fixed and variable operations. From Internet Management Training Programs, to Digital Marketing 20 Groups, we are here to help you overcome any digital challenge that faces your store. For some additional reading from our team of automotive veterans, please check out the following:

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