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Does volume make up for giving a low price?
I want to clarify at the very beginning of this blog. When I am referring to a “discount” I am referring to discounts you normally don’t offer. Example: $500 over invoice versus, triple net. Now let’s get started.
How many times has a customer told you that they might be interested in a multiple car purchase if the price on the first one is “the best”?
I remember this very well and heard it from individuals to small businesses and every time the allure of multiple purchases just does something to me.
When I was selling cars many years ago I can remember going in to the sales office and my sales manager starts to hear the all-too-familiar plea. I try to convince my sales manager that it makes so much sense to offer the customer the VERY lowest price the first time on this one vehicle because he may buy more. Of course, I have the expectation that this new customer will buy multiple vehicles, send numerous referrals and make me tons of money. On the other end the sales manager has heard the same plea hundreds of times before, and yet for some reason, my pleas and the lack of current sales, pressure to hit a goal suddenly make offering a discount very attractive to him.
It’s as if we’re watching the unveiling of a very slow accident that is completely avoidable and yet happens at dealerships everyday. Here lies the biggest issue: I would get it into my head that the only way to close the deal was by discounting the price of the first vehicle to rock bottom and all they need to do is convince my sales manager to go along with it. Heck, I remember even getting mad when I thought the discount was not enough. LOL, sorry this is all funny now.
When this occurs, a major shift in the sales process happens. The way a salesperson does their job takes a very dramatic turn in seconds. We are no longer selling to the customer; now we are selling the sales manager. The problem with this is simple – a salesperson gets paid for selling to customers. That’s how both the top-line and the bottom-line are made.
If you’re reading this and you’re a salesperson, here is some very simple advice. Contrary to what you believe will happen, the odds of the customer buying multiple vehicles or sending referrals are similar to me winning the lottery. Is it doable? Yes. Is it probable? NO! In every case this happened to me as a salesperson and sales manager only one time did a customer buy more then the initial vehicle and in that situation I was forced to give the same type of discount on the second vehicle. This is why when you discount the price; the new price is now the price and don’t be surprised if they ask for more of a discount to test you. They will also tell any potential referrals how to get the discount! So, you say well I will just increase the price, right? If or when you attempt to move the price to the ‘normal or regular’ price range, it is seen as a price increase.
As a manager I can guarantee you one thing. You did not cut your cost of goods by the same dollar for dollar discount you just gave, so why do it?
Here’s the deal: Your ability as a salesperson is not in how much you sell, but in how much you earn for your dealership. It’s the bottom-line profit that counts, and anytime you reduce your price, you’re slashing your profit.
There is not a sales manager out there of any quality who will allow any salesperson to spend their valuable time trying to sell internally. The focus must be on external selling. Focus first on creating value by determining the needs of the customer. Then position your product and service as the solution, and do so at a price consistent to market value. Focus on the customer and the sale will follow.
There have been several blogs posted regarding websites and suggestions about how to make yours as effective as possible but have you considered one of the most important aspects of your site – the domain name? The domain name, or url, not only provides the world at-large the means to access your website but also plays a vital role in Search Engines. It is literally your site’s ‘address’ on the World Wide Web. Considering the importance of this wonder, you would want to do everything you can to make sure it is kept safe. There are many site owners who have no idea who is really in control of their vitally important domain name however.
So, how do you find out information on a domain? The first place to start is with a registrar. A registrar is a company that facilitates the actual purchase and management of domains. Every domain in the world can be traced back to a relatively low number of registrars; although there are more today than in the past. Some of the most popular registrars are GoDaddy, Network Solutions, and Tucows. Each registrar maintains a search function called ‘whois’ which displays the registry information for each domain. Using this function, you can usually determine what you need to know about your domain.
Let’s use GoDaddy as an example. If you go to http://www.godaddy.com, you will easily spot their domain search tool. Type in your url and click on the ‘Go’ button. The results, predictably, will indicate the domain is not available for purchase – you already own it (hopefully!). What you will see is a link to ‘get info’. Clicking on that link will show you the information we are looking for including four of the most important elements: the registrar, registrant, administrative contact, and technical contact. Another critical piece of information you can find on this page is the expiration date of your domain – don’t let it expire or you will be subjected to a most painful, read costly, process to get it back. I did a search for google.com as an example (sadly, it was already taken.)
The first item listed in my example is the ‘Registrant’. This is the holy grail we are looking for – the registrant is the owner of the domain. You should definitely see the name of your dealership listed here as the registrant or at the very least the name of the Dealer Principle. If you see the name of your website company or the name of a techie who designed some aspect of your website, you could very well be up the creek in desperate need of a paddle. As far as the registrar goes, the registrant is the one in charge and changing this piece of the registry is a very difficult process. If the domain was accidentally registered with a hosting company listed as the registrant and they realize the error of their ways, the process to correctly list your dealership will be simplified to some paperwork and proof of ID but can still be very time consuming. If the domain was intentionally registered with the wrong registrant information, you are looking at a very difficult process which will involve lawyers. That is why it is so vital to know the status of your domain – especially at the time it is being registered.
We already discussed the registrar but the information you see on this screen will let you know the specific registrar through which your domain is managed. Each registrar’s whois registry will be able to show you the actual registrar for your domain – you do not need to hit yours on the first try – but sometimes you will get more information if you do go directly to the managing registrar (most of the time there will be a direct link to your registrar’s whois page).
The Administrative and Technical contacts are also important as these are the contacts, depending on the registrar’s policies, who will be receiving notifications for the domain such as renewal notices, requests to transfer the domain to a new registrar, requests to access the account, and so on. Generally, the Administrative Contact is the one who will receive a forgotten password email if it is necessary. It is normal to have a GM, New/Used Car Manager, or Internet Director as the Administrative Contact and the Technical Contact although it is perfectly acceptable to have the website provider as the Technical Contact. If you look up these contacts and do not recognize the names and emails or they belong to a former employee, you need to take steps now to correct the situation. Requests to update these contacts are originated through the registar and each one may have slightly different procedures. Start the process ahead of any expected changes to your website hosting – otherwise, you could hit a major roadblock you were not prepared for.
So, who is in control of your website domain? Ultimately, it is the registrant but the administrative contact is pretty important as well. Both of these should be very easily accessible contacts for the dealership. There are a lot of ‘R’ words involved in domain names:
Registrar = the company through which a domain is registered and managed
Registry = the list of important domain information
Registrant = the owner of a domain as listed in the registry
Make sure you know this vital information about your all-important domain names before a situation arises that causes you pain, time, and potentially a lot of money.
We all know that the Internet is where you can make the most money for a dealership. But most people at the dealership think that it’s all about selling cars online. Well in some cases that can be true, but just like at the brick and mortar, an online parts dept can rein supreme.
As I mentioned in my blog last week, most automotive website providers can supply dealerships with the ability to process orders online for your parts dept. If your website does not currently have this ability, contact your provider and ask if they have a solution or can recommend one.
From the Corporate website management point of view, I have seen dealerships attempt to sell parts online and it failed horribly. Mainly, because they did not fully invest in the idea and only dabbled with it since it was suggested by the corporate office.
The old saying of “nothing worth while comes easy” is true in the case of putting your parts dept online. I say this because to get the most effective results requires a dedicated phone line, a digital camera to take photos and add to the parts site, and a person to answer and phone calls and handle sales. In a lot of cases you will get a customer knowing exactly what they want. But quite a few don’t and will need some guidance to find what they are looking for. Your website showing the pictures with a small description goes a long way. If they can see the part and you have a pretty decent description listed, a customer can tell quickly if that’s what they are looking for. It can start as a one person position but done correctly, it will quickly turn into a team needed effort. There will need to be a good description of the part, with part numbers, a photo or two, prices, availability status, and the contact phone numbers that ring directly to the parts dept, do not ring to the switch board. Also if you can, have a shopping cart check out ability on the site with shipping options available. Just like anything else about your dealership you have to advertise it here and there… people will come if you let them know you have a site.
To get it right you will need someone to take photos of the parts and products because your customer will want to see what they are looking for. Not only photos of some of the current stock like engine and transmission, break parts, oil filters, and hoses you have available but satellite TV and Radio devices and services, bush grills and mud guards, window tinting services, fabric cleaning services and products, engine cleaning tools and supplies, floor mats and everything else your dealership has to sell. List old stock items, new items, any specialty items and everything else you have behind the counter.
People from across the country will buy directly from you because you have it available for them to purchase. This will improve your website SEO when your parts are found in search engines and they lead people to your site. People will go out of there way to save a dime and there are millions like me that shop online simply for the convenience.
Before I end, here is a short story of how a dealerships online parts dept can explode. I went on a search for an update to the Navigation DVD in my vehicle. I checked with an aftermarket parts store and they let me know it is a manufacturer only item. I would have to go thru a dealership to get it. Went home and looked it up on my local dealership… and nope… No parts online. So I called up the dealership and found out its going to cost me full labor + parts just to swap out the old and new DVD in the trunk of my vehicle. Asking if they could sell me the DVD alone so I could do it myself…. the guy goes into his salesman speech and said wellllll we would have to install the item blah blah blah….Honestly, after he mentioned it needed to be installed by them and I heard how much it would cost, I tuned everything else out and I decided to find it online and do it myself.
Since I like saving a buck here and there and I knew it can’t be too hard to change a DVD out. I began my Internet search. After about 30 minutes of searching various dealerships sites and blogs I went to eBay. Seeing outrageous prices for old and new navigation DVDs, I tried another auction site, and then another website hoping maybe someone had the item listed for a reasonable price. Then I turned to the search engines. I searched Google with the part number I got from seeing the item on eBay or one of the other places I had visited and found one dealership on the other side of the country that had the DVD listed for sale. They had all the information about the DVD, with a picture and they even provided instructions on how to change it out. Needless to say- immediate purchase!! I was so happy that I went back to one of the blog sites where everyone was discussing where to get updated DVD without having to pay for installation by the dealership and pasted a link to the dealership. The same day the DVD arrived in the mail; I went back to the site and purchased a set of manufacturer floor mats they had listed too. I also informed a friend about the site who had a vehicle by the same manufacturer and he started ordering various items off the site. Word of mouth as you know is the best advertising and done right your dealership too can become extremely successful on the web selling parts.
Your website is your store front. It is a 24 hour commercial. When maintained correctly; it maximizes the dealership’s advertising dollar. To keep it attractive and exciting to your customers, it does not have to be bright, loud and flashy, with every item on the page moving and making noise. Flashy and moving items become expensive and only after the second time of visiting your website, it becomes an annoyance to you and the customer. Text with a few graphics here and there, with links are the best way to go considering your SEO. Remember your website is not to enhance a person’s life with all the expensive and flashy stuff you can think to add, but to advertise and sell products.
Not only focus on selling vehicles online but bring your parts and service departments to the forefront as well. Selling parts online, ordering specialty items or other items your customer may not know you sell or can order, potentially can bring the masses to your door. If your site does not have the ability to sell parts directly online ask your website provider how to do so.
List old “new stock” online, overstock items, and list your hard to find items and specialty items. Customers love to have original parts in their vehicles but sometimes settle for aftermarket because of the lack of availability. Advertise it everywhere, people scour the Internet looking for OEM parts, and by letting people know they can buy items from the dealership online saves them time! At the same time providing this service for customers improves your website search statistics. In short, if people know that your website has the ability to order parts directly, it will save time and effort, generate extra money for your store, improve your SEO and generate phone calls.
When you think of a car dealership website, you think of vehicles, parts and services. To keep it attractive and exciting to your customers you can break from the normal sterile everyday boring website every now and then, think outside of the box. Offer something out of the ordinary; a break from the mundane; specials coupons, and incentives.
Incentives, Specials and coupons such as – push or pull specials, highest mileage competitions, detailing and car washing specials… “Free car washing day between x-time and x-time.” … Have dirty car competitions, bikini wash day or hunk in Speedo wash your car day. All of these simple yet effective promotions will bring many potential buyers. Buy a car and register to win 30 seconds in a wind machine grabbing all the money you can, … You can advertise these on radio (See or website for our weekly monthly or bi monthly special event)…or TV( with scrolling text at the bottom of the screen.). But always direct the customer to the website for more information. If you have the ability to make your site more customized than the standard everyday car dealer website, add some exciting promotions and incentives for your dealership. Take advantage of it online.
Get your BDC involved in your community. You can allow various events to be advertised or be mentioned on your site but have the organization promote it..… Call it your Community Happenings page. Allow community programs with a little league or the boy/girl scouts to come out and hold an event on the lot. Let them advertise it and you host it on your dealership website. Example… Go to THIS car dealerships website for more information…And Create the page for them. Most website companies will not charge you much, if they charge at all to add a page such as this. Create an icon/link on the home page of your site and link it to your community page. On the community page have links to your specials/ incentives or inventory. Make your site community friendly just by adding a simple page such as this. Now everyone sees how community oriented you are and they will browse your inventory just to see what you have to offer.
These small things will not only attract potential buyers but will improve your dealerships reputation and cost you pennies if any at all. Worst case scenario, your dealership could be sought after by various organizations because you will list something on your site for them. How much traffic could that bring to you?