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Dealers:  Are You Looking To Sell More Cars Online?


While our paths have crossed many times over the years, I have only recently come to know Shaun Raines.  Shaun has been providing thought leadership on the auto industry and its use of the Internet far longer than I have.  As I believe he has much to say that you will find useful and interesting, I asked him to write this week' article.



Are You Looking For More Showroom Traffic?



By Shaun Raines, founder of Dealer Advisor


You are not alone.  Most dealers today are wondering where all of their showroom traffic has gone.  In most major markets, showroom traffic in the form of “shoppers” has been in serious decline for several years.  I don’t know the exact percentages, but I know that I talk to dealers almost every day that ask me how they can “get more showroom traffic.”


Unfortunately, the showroom traffic you are looking for is a thing of the past and it won’t be returning unless the internet goes away.  You are not going to get your traditional shopper in to the showroom or on the lot like you did 10 or 15 years ago.  I’m sorry, but it just won’t happen.  You can blame your good friend, the internet.  Yes, once again the internet is at fault.  Before you join a support group for internet haters, let me offer some perspective and encouragement. 


Showroom traffic is more a virtual matter than a physical one.


If you are a dealer reading this article, there’s a 99% chance you have a website.  Your website is a “virtual showroom.”  You have “virtual showroom traffic” by the hundreds or thousands every month.  What are consumers doing in your virtual showroom?  How should you accommodate this information hungry shopper?  Why does your website exist?  The virtual showroom experience has to build the bridge to the actual showroom.  If it doesn’t, you are suffering a painful and steady decline that you may not recover from.


Here are some tips to encourage and help you:


  • Look at your website reports and know how many visitors you have every month.  When you’re paying attention to this showroom, you’ll be able to see the ups and downs and have a better sense of your needs to drive more traffic.  There are plenty of methods to drive more "virtual showroom traffic," but you should know if it’s necessary based upon your “funnel efficiencies.”
  • Pay close attention to the experience you provide to your “virtual showroom” visitors.  Anything that complicates or compromises a fast, informative, easy-to-use website needs to be removed or replaced.  Know why your customers come to your “virtual showroom” in the first place and meet their needs.  In other industries, visitors can buy almost any product online including options, additional warranties, insurances and shipping.  Can they do that on your website or do you leave them with call or email to discuss as their only choices or as the site’s “Calls to Action?”  Shopping cart based ecommerce is here.  Get the capability or be prepared to fight a losing battle with obsolete weapons. 
  • Accept the fact that sales is a numbers game.  Only a certain number of cars, trucks and SUV’s are going to be sold in your neck of the woods today, this week, this month and this year.  Your old showroom traffic has found its way into your “virtual showroom” because it’s easier, convenient and they’re trying to avoid the stereo typical car sales experience.  Develop funnel metrics, track and measure them.  They’ll guide you to what you are doing well and areas that you need to improve.
  • You can’t afford to wait for the good old days to come back.  My dad was influenced by print advertising and the television and it worked to get him in to the dealership.  I can’t remember the last time print advertising or the television influenced me to buy anything.  The internet on the other hand has been giving me the path to hassle free research and information for a good ten years and when the “virtual showrooms” I visit meet my needs… I do business.
  • Measure, measure, measure.  It is all about the efficiencies.  Total website traffic, translates to how many identifiable, virtual showroom shoppers?  Ask all of your showroom visitors how they came to be in your showroom.  Indirect influence counts.  How many of each category of shopper bought a vehicle from you?
  • Less is more.  Fancy websites tend to be distracting to the visitor’s and your purpose.  Efficient, simple navigation, high quality information, easy to find calls to action in places that funnel visitors to the action you want them to take will produce far more selling opportunities than the alternative.  Look at an iPod some time.  Less is more when you want results.

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