There is a direct connection with unique visitors to sold units. There is also a direct connection with increasing time on website to increased website conversion. Focusing on each part of the sales funnel is key, not just the bottom section.
After a tough seven years, life is good again in the retail car business. Political analysts are reporting that retail auto sales are one of the few positive spots. I have visited with a number of dealers who are reporting record financial and/or sales numbers. We quickly moved from the hardest years to new record highs. If you are not hitting big numbers, you should consider some major moves. Here are some interesting comments shared by some of the top rated individuals that I connect with.
- Richard Bustillo is the general manager for Rick Case Honda, one of the top performing Honda stores in the country. Richard is very focused on the digital side, specifically with video SEO and PPC. Richard also suggests that a dealer should not spend money in these areas until processes and tracking metrics are in place. Richard is focused on Facebook. As an example, the group recently promoted an employee pricing sale. The Honda store sold 75 units through Facebook alone by linking this opportunity to the site. Richard stated that he doesn’t want fans for the sake of having fans like some dealerships. Rather than just driving numbers, Richard is focused on having supporters tied to his Facebook site. Richard also doesn’t believe in promoting a sale every week to his Facebook followers. He has even given away a new car to promote his Facebook site. Richard is unafraid to test new concepts and he is always pushing for the next opportunity to stay ahead of the competition.
- Lonnie Decker is the chief marketing officer for The Auto Gallery, a member of the Potamkin Automotive Group, selling Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Porsche, McLaren, Fiat and Audi in Los Angeles. Lonnie also serves as the general manager for the Lamborghini operation, which allows him to test digital concepts at one location before rolling them out across all dealerships. Lonnie has increased his unique visitor monthly count from 9,000 to 50,000! During this same time period, profits doubled and sales increased 150%. There is a direct connection with unique visitors to sold units. There is also a direct connection with increasing time on website to increased website conversion. Focusing on each part of the sales funnel is key, not just the bottom section. I have visited a number of dealerships that don’t track these metrics. It is hard to improve if you are not measuring each section.
Decker’s training and background have prepared him for his role with Potamkin. He picked up a BS with a concentration in MIS at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, graduating magna cum laude. He has sold cars and he worked at Mercedes-Benz corporate. Lonnie looks at the world through different lenses.
Every general manager can tell you how many units were sold last month. I would suggest that every general manager should be able to report unique visitors, time on site, and website conversion from memory. I am always surprised when I meet with management teams who respond with blank stares concerning questions tied to these points.
- Wayne Ussery is the director of Internet marketing for the Jim Ellis Group. Their Internet team sold 675 units last month. Wayne accomplished this by driving 100,000 unique visitors to his websites while managing his own SEO. He is also very progressive with video applications to drive organic search and website conversion. The Ellis sites convert at an average of 11 percent. Most dealer sites are tracking at one percent to five percent.
Wayne also does a tremendous job in tracking metrics to evaluate what is producing results. An example is tracking the colors of units by models that are getting the most interest on the website. Wayne shared a story with me on the importance of a detail like this. Wayne asked one of his general managers what pre-owned color was the most visited color on the website for a specific popular model. The general manager was confident with his answer: black. Wayne shared the correct answer: white. The general manager picked up 10 white units at the next auction and was shocked when they moved eight of these units within two weeks. We can take away several points from this.
1. It is irrelevant what we think if we don’t back it up with facts. We may have a personal preference for black cars while the customers are buying white cars. The end result could be thousands of dollars in lost profits. The same point holds true with websites. Dealers in some cases evaluate their websites based on personal taste. It is more important to determine what the customers want. Test new concepts and measure results.
2. If you aren’t looking at the details with your Internet team, you are missing key steps to analyze what the customer is telling you.
3. Customers respond quickly when you listen to them. Customers are watching your moves online.
4. Wayne has programing skills. As in Lonnie’s case, he looks at the world differently than a traditional sales profile with a big picture view of the world. In the case of both Lonnie Decker and Wayne Ussery, they are senior level managers within their companies. They have influence and ability to make decisions. They are encouraged to test concepts without criticism if a concept doesn’t produce results.
- Kevin Mize is the dealer principal for O’Hare Honda and O’Hare Hyundai. Kevin also serves on a committee for Honda USA, which focuses on identifying ecommerce initiatives that are producing results. O’Hare Honda is ranked fourth for Honda in the Chicago area and 17th out of 104 in the midwest, by selling a total of 300 units a month. The interesting point is that O’Hare is not located on an automotive row. O’Hare Honda/Hyundai is a destination location so the Internet is a critical component. Kevin has embraced digital by using his traditional media to drive the customer to the website. Rather than hiring a high priced specialist, he personally became involved as a student of the Internet. Kevin leverages video to drive both organic searches with Google and website conversion. Kevin is willing to test new ideas from a digital perspective to see what produces results. Some teams are afraid to test new concepts out of fear that the results will not be there. Other teams jump in and out of every new idea that comes into an area. Kevin’s entire team does a great job of vetting new concepts, calling for references from trusted partners and tracking results.
Please note that in this article, I have showcased a general manager, a dealer, a director of Internet marketing and a chief marketing manager who also runs a dealership. Regardless of your position, mastering the digital side is critical. If you want stronger sales, you must focus on each section of the sales funnel. I am facilitating a panel discussion in Las Vegas at the 13th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition on October 23-25, 2012. Three of my panelists will include Lonnie Decker, Kevin Mize and Wayne Ussery. The panel will focus on how these individuals have been able to drive results tied to increasing unique visitors, website conversion, and organic click-throughs. If you want ideas from some of the best of the best, come to this panel discussion.