elend blog

The 3 ways to increase visitor to sales ratios

As the influence and reach of the internet continues to grow, it can be difficult to determine how to harness its power to capture more than your fair share of the benefit. As a dealer operator - and someone probably not at expert in SEO/SEM and all things social - it’s a huge challenge.   

You need to know there is nothing wrong with that. It’s something dealerships across the country are struggling with. And let’s face it, understanding a 24/7 marketplace where everything is happening virtually isn’t easy. It’s hard. And at times, frustrating.  

However, the internet is (obviously) very real. It is here to stay and remains a significant opportunity - and a costly one to miss out on. It would be hard to imagine being competitive in any market without a solid, well executed strategy, something you’re probably outsourcing to a digital marketing agency. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that.  

Most every dealership has a website, but many are disappointed with the conversion results from their efforts and investments. They wish they were doing better.  But here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be that way.

Let your agency figure out how to capture the “attention” and traffic your business craves. Work with your agency partner to determine which metrics matter most for your store. But you should know how people interact with your website.   

Take your dealer hat off and without bias, experience what your customers and potential customers experience. Online and in-store. Think like your customer:

- What confuses them?

- Is anything about the process off-putting or difficult?

- Does the process take a long time?

If you’re like most dealerships, you are going to uncover some things that could absolutely be done different. Be done better. And you know it. And that's okay.

The crucial thing to keep in mind is that you're doing all this to keep the pulse on YOUR business. These are smart, common sense things that you need to know - and can do for yourself. Because you know how to sell cars.

So how do you know what you should and shouldn't outsource? Here are the top 3 recommendations:

  1. Make the short list. With today’s car shopper spending more and more time shopping online and visiting fewer dealerships after that, your fist challenge is to make the ‘shortlist.’ Your website is your opportunity to make a great first impression. And build credibility. In addition to optimizing your website for any screen size - most importantly smartphones and tablets -  be easy to do business with.

    So what will work?  An intentional strategy that allows your shoppers to engage at their pace. Be approachable. Connect. Engage them incrementally. If they want to chat, answer their questions without requiring their contact information first.

    Make your lead forms brief. Name, address, and email. They’re probably not yet ready to provide their phone number. Bottom line: Connect first, sell second. Don't make the customer come to you.
  2. Bridge the trust gap.  You should want an easy, seamless experience for your customers that starts online because that’s where consumers are making their vehicle purchase decisions.  Showing pictures and prices is not enough for today’s consumer.  90% of car buyers are payment buyers.  The more customers know, the more comfortable they are. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they are to buy.

    If most shoppers want to know what their monthly payments are and what financing terms will be before deciding on a specific vehicle, make it easy and convenient for shoppers to find the information they are looking for. Make available VIN specific finance and lease first pencil tools with trade-in and soft credit technologies. Make sure your credit applications return instant credit decisions - not a generic thank you message that reads something like “thank you for submitting your information. We will be in touch with you shortly.”

    Online retail tools allow customers to move themselves down the funnel.
    For you the dealer, that customer becomes so much more valuable. The transparency is a major trust builder. Transparency equals more profit. 

  3. Create one unified experience. This is perhaps the most crucial component to a positive buying experience. It means connecting the online and offline shopping experiences to create one unified car buying experience.  Your online digital retailing tools cannot be stand-alone tools that are disconnected from your showroom sales process.
    Profits are determined by sales and sales are determined by your sales process. Today’s car shoppers want more control of their experience. They want to do more of the transaction online. They also know if much of the transaction can be completed online prior their visit to the dealership, the showroom visit is shortened up.
    Eliminate online to in-store information disconnects and process redundancies. Exceed your customers expectations. Start with a transparent business model that is consistent throughout the purchase process. Let consumers start and stop when they want online and seamlessly pick up where they left off when they get to your dealership.

Spend your time on things you do know, not worrying about things you don’t. You are a businessman. You know how to sell cars. You don’t have to be at the mercy of another individual or agency by not knowing it at all. But you should find a person or agency you trust to do the job to partner with and learn from one another.

We are not talking about a race to the one-hour close. But we are talking about a process that allows you the dealer to go as fast or as slow as the customer wants.

There’s little doubt that improving the speed and quality of the customer’s transition from sales to F&I is a significant opportunity for most stores. Create one unified buying experience. Eliminate unengaged wait time for your customer. Sell more cars in less time. Improve gross and net profits. Increase customer satisfaction. What’s not to like?

About The Author
Pete brings 40+ years of experience in automotive finance and technology as Founder and CEO of eLEND Solutions™, an automotive FinTech company providing a middleware solution designed to power transactional digital retailing buying experiences. The platform specializes in hybrid credit report, identity verification, and ‘pre-desking’ solutions, accelerating end-to-end purchase experiences - helping dealers sell more cars! Faster! 

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