Categories
Business Development Retail Car Lot

7 Ways to Win Google’s “Near Me” Search Wars at Your Dealership

“Near Me” Searchers Buy the Same Day

Did you know that 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit that business within a day?
Interesting is the fact that 18% of those visit will make a purchase that same day. Even more stunning, is the fact that Millennials will buy 29% of the time on the same day. So it stands to reason that your business should ensure that it can be found in a “near me” search for all the categories and products you sell.

1. Being mobile compatible is not good enough.

Finding a product or service nearby used to require a combination of the Yellow Pages, a paper map, and a telephone — not the most convenient solution. Thanks to the powerful devices in consumers pockets and on their wrists, buyers can now quickly and easily find things around them. All you have to do is sit at a coffee shop or commuter train and you will see consumers figuring out where to go next, where to buy the products they are interested in and where to get service, all from their smart phones.

“Turning to our smartphones when we need something — a forgotten word, a better (used car) price, a movie time— has become a reflex”, according to Matt Lawson, ‎director of search ads marketing at Google.

Words like “near me,” “closest,” and “nearby” are increasingly common across the billions of search queries on Google every month especially in Automotive research. Searches like “Used Honda’s near me” and “Closest used car lot” are quite common. According to Google, search interest in “near me” has increased a staggering 34 times since 2011 and nearly doubled again since last year. The vast majority come from mobile — 80% in Q4 2014.
In a new article on Think with Google, Matt Lawson, says,

“We want things right, and we want things right away. As a result, the consumer journey looks markedly different than it did just five years ago. Instead of a few moments of truth, it’s a series of ‘micro-moments’ when we turn to mobile to act on a need.”

He call’s them “I want to go” moments, read more http://bit.ly/Iwanttogo

2. Make Micro-Moments, Awesome Moments

Consumers have become fast at Google “Sniping”. They are expecting the answer right away and expecting the site they find to provide those answers in an instant. In other words, we have become less tolerant of poorly designed websites and sites with a bad customer experience.

For example if a customer searches for “Oil Change near me” or “Service in Alden NY” they expect to find sites they recognize. Then when they tap into that site from their mobile device you better take them to a site where they can find service and oil changes and it better be an awesome mobile experience.

3. Embrace Google’s New Mobile Experience.

In Google’s latest round of changes to their awesome search algorithm they focused on rewarding sites with amazing  mobile sites. You can test your site by going to http://bit.ly/SEOFriend

Make sure your websites are “Mobile Friendly” or “Near Me” compatible. Think about it, if 80% of “near me” searches are preformed on mobile devices, which makes sense, what do they see when they search for your brand “near me”. In other words test it against the mobile tools out there such as Google’s mobile friendly tag

4. Taking Advantage of “Near Me” Search

I was at a used car super store last week, (Auction Direct USA) speaking about this subject with Scott Harvell and his team. I asked if he’s store was “Near Me” ready? He beamed back at me and said, “Go ahead and check.”

So I pulled out my smart phone and searched “used cars near me.” Auction Direct  was listed on page one, with the “Mobile Friendly” tag.

Looking around his showroom at the many customers, I realized how important it is to have a great website fully compatible with Google’s latest search.

5. Focus on Your Google Business Listings Again.

I was visiting a large dealer group the other day, while waiting in the showroom I searched “Nissan Dealer Near Me” and was horrified to find that the very store I was standing in somehow was listed as “permanently closed” by Google maps.

How much business is that costing them. You cannot loose focus on the importance of Google’s Business Listing. You should have someone at your company reviewing them monthly and adding photos and videos as often as possible to keep it fresh.

6. Focusing on Localized Search with Special Websites

Consumers seldom know where they want to buy a car, they tend to search for things like “used cars in Alden NY” or “Charlotte Used Trucks” as their opening volley. You will notice that Autotrader.com and Cars.com are dominant advertisers in that space. For good reason. Customers search for the product they want in the town they want it, twice as often as a business name.

However, buying a domain like UsedCarsCharlotte.com and pointing it at your main site does not work, because in the past black hat SEO heathens ruined this technique. They built hundreds of phony one page landing pages with static content to game the old Google algorithm. Google now penalizes businesses that use this technique and in some cases have practically black balled victim dealers using into obscurity.

On the other hand, Google loves content rich websites that complete their main goal “Relevance.” So the way to help customers find the car they want in the market they are shopping in, is to have fully functional websites. Similar to car.com or craigslist.com that list your inventory and allow a great mobile and desktop experience for your customers.
UsedCarAd.com ($499 per year) is a perfect example of an inexpensive way to get yourself a “localized” web site. It provides a full inventory search, specials, aged inventory and 10 separate contact points including an awesome stepped credit ap.
It go as far as to allow the consumer to stay within your localizes site including VDP (vehicle detail pages) or allow the user to jump over to your branded VDP and continue their shopping experience on your main website.

7. Follow Google’s Rules and They Will Love Your Site

At our company, Dealer Simplified, LLC, we study Google and their rules on a daily bases. We read their blogs, we watch their learning center videos. Why? Because we learned if you embrace their rules, Google will love your sites. Let me say that again in a different way. Stop fighting them, instead do what they say and they will index your site beautifully.

An example of how great Google lays out the rules is this site: http://bit.ly/MobileSeo devoted to helping you make your mobile site compatible with Google’s latest search algorithm.

Categories
Car Auction Retail Car Lot Wholesale Lot

Used Car Profit Hacks

When it comes to used car profit, dealers constantly consider the resale value of their inventory. Having a profitable, well maintained inventory can make a huge difference when it comes the speed in which you turn your used car lot.
Here are some simple tips on how to increase the value of your Used Car Inventory.

Wash Your CarsCleanliness Matters

Keeping your cars clean isn’t just for cosmetic appeal, it can seriously affect your cars value. As a percentage of profit improvement, a clean car has the most impact on value for the least amount of expense.
All plastic should be treated with a quality cleaner and protectant, and the carpets should be vacuumed to the point where you can actually see the lines the vacuum made. Get your detail shop a carpet rake, to really make the carpets look awesome.

Hidden garbage under the seats or in map pockets can cost you a sale. Make sure your detailers are looking everywhere and even vacuuming under the seats, trunk and map pockets.

Clean door jams make a real difference as well, have them wiped down and silicone the hinges.

Detail the engine and trunk, clean out their jams as well and be sure there are no signs of oil leaks whenever possible.

Freshen your Inventory often

cars with hoods openOne of the biggest mistakes dealers make is they don’t freshen their inventory weekly. I make it the lot person’s (porter/inventory managers) daily job. They should be flagging 2-5 cars a day to refresh.

Minor Modifications

Sometimes the smallest little details make your cars look so much better and in many cases add profit at a 2:1 ratio. When I was younger I made a living buying cheep cars with rips in the seats and dash boards. I would add seat covers and a minor patch kit for the cracks, then turn around and re-auction the car at a tremendous profit.
Simple things like spray painting the wheel wells black or silvering the end of an exhaust have amazing impact on curb appeal.

Adding Accessories

Some dealers like to add accessories, such as alarms. In my opinion the return is only equal to the value of the added item and in some cases lowers your SRP’s because it sometimes raises the price pass your competitors. Another side effect of adding the accessory in advance is you tend to give it away, instead of selling them at a profit

Minor Bodywork

Mobile paint technician’s are a used car manager’s best friend. These companies will come to your used car lot and can remove scratches and small dents without the hassle of taking your car to a repairer or body shop. They can also treat your car with an extra clear coat, giving the paint a new lease on life and providing added protection against chips and scratches.

When you have your own body shop you can fall into the trap of wanting to paint every minor dent. Dent removal without painting is the better way to go. Again its cost to profit ratio is as much a 4:1
Kevin Leigh, Dealer Simplified
Kevin Leigh

Story Book

One of the most important things you can do to increase the value of your cars is to keep a “story book” which includes such items as:

  • Printed Carfax
  • List of Work Already Preformed on the Car
  • Printed List of Reviews on the Car from Edmunds or Cars.com
  • Printed List of Standard and Added Options
  • Original Mileage statement
  • Warranties Available

Salespeople that show the storybook upfront are far more likely to get top dollar than salespeople that wait until the customer asks for the Carfax.

Categories
Car Auction Retail Car Lot Wholesale Lot

How to Stock Used Cars Customers Want to Buy.

& How to Stock Used Cars Salespeople Will Sell!

Buying Used Cars For Your Lot is Easy:

Buying used cars is easy
Lots of Rental Cars Out There

Stocking your used car lot is easy, Right? You can load up on as many cars your lot will hold, fill every spot and you could have it done today. The auctions are loaded with all kinds of cars. Sounds pretty good right but only if you like silver, white or tan x-rentals. Just because something is easy doesn’t mean you should do it. Putting cars on your lot just to fill it up can cost you thousands of dollars. Most of us have been in this spot once or twice. So how do you stock up on cars customers want to buy and that salespeople want to sell.

The good news is that with a little hard work and a little smart work you can find the cars you need and keep them rolling in. Much like looking for cars under $10,000 you are going to need some help from your team. Now don’t get me wrong some of these cars are going to have to come from the auction. Whether you buy online or at the local sale, just make sure you look for cars you need. And don’t over pay for them at the sale, if you are going to step up for a car make sure you buy it from a customer in your showroom.

Wholesale-Used-CarsUnderstand Your Used Car Market:

Once you understand your market and the stores history you can start to build a profile of what cars you need. You never want to just go off your history, this will cause you to miss out on selling the customer what they want. If you have never sold a 2008 Toyota Camry in the past, but every customer in your market is searching for one and you follow your history how many 2008 Camry’s are you going to sell? Thats right, ZERO. History is good but you need to watch the market and look for cars customers want to buy. Again its easy to buy the cars you can buy, but that doesn’t mean the customer wants to buy them from you. Its why they are still available at the sale.

So searching for cars the customer wants to buy is half the job. The other half of stocking your lots with the right cars is pleasing your salespeople. Remember they are the ones that have to sell them. If you can’t get the salespeople on board with the cars you are putting on the lot you might as well burn your money. Some salespeople will sell any car you give them, but not everyone is that comfortable with selling used cars. Most of them will walk right around a used car if they don’t feel good about it and can sell a new one instead. You have to get them in front of every used car, this will lift their confidence and sell you more used cars.

The morning bullpen

Bull Pen Cars Lined Up
Used Car Lot Bull Pen Meeting

Now if you’re asking your self how do I get that done, you may want to try bull penning. Running a morning bullpen isn’t that hard but you can’t half-ass it. The last thing you want to do is waist the teams time with nonsense. Its best to have all the work for your bullpen done the night before. You want to have the cars you are going to show lined up, you don’t want to spend time walking the lot. Also you are going to have to do some homework on the cars, start with a list (year, make, model, miles…). If any of the cars are trades have the salesperson that worked the deal talk about the car. It’s a good idea to get them involved. This is a good time to talk about your go-to market price and to find out if the team has any interest in selling these cars.

Now you can’t let the inmates run the prison but you do need their buy in if you want to move some medal. Do your best to have good information about each car, things like service history, carfax, market data and pricing. Let the team help you weed out the bad cars and you will fill your used car lot with cars people want to buy and ones your salespeople want to sell.

Categories
Retail Car Lot

How to Find Customer’s Who Want to Buy Your Car

It is Job One For Managers and Car Sales People to Build Their Customer Base

My father used to say,

“if you are not looking for customers they will never find you.”

As it turns out, customers are all around, at stores, restaurants, and shopping malls.

How to find car buyers:

  • Finding-car-buyers-smiling-girl-getting-carCall orphaned customers: Sales people leave dealerships all the time and in many cases their customers (orphan owners) are left without any contact for months. I love working with orphan customers because they can be a rich source of future growth for business and a great place to get referrals. I believe one should call and make introductions, verify email addresses, and let the customer know that a message will be sent with coupons and specials. Send them quarterly specials and bird dog referral reminders (see below).
  • Bird Dog Referral Bonus: If you find yourself with a plethora of previous customers it is always a good idea to have a bird dog fee. The phrase “bird dog” means, refer a customer and I will pay a finders fee. It is a good idea to double bird-dog fees for a couple of weeks per year, as an additional incentive and an excuse to call the customer base.
  • Be the Fastest to Help: One of the most important wow factors with customers is urgency. Always be the first at the door, quickest to answer the phone and fastest to answer an email.
    In other words while other salespeople are having their first cup of coffee, watch the entry points for your business. This applies to business owners as well. Do you have a plan for each of the entry points to your company?

    • Who’s watching the front door? If possible move your office near it. As customers enter, look up, smile approach slowly and greet them. Ask them “What would you like to accomplish today?”
      While at the Apple store the other day they asked a simple non-threatening question: “What’s going on?” I like it because it is simple and open ended. If I ran a service business, “What’s going on?” would be my opening question too.
    • Always answer sales calls on the first ring. Become the switchboard operator’s friend. Bring them morning coffee; let them know when you arrive and when you are leaving.  Make sure they have your Google Voice number (mentioned below) which enables your calls to be transferred, making all of your phones ring at once, so that you never miss a potential customer.
    • Who’s checking leads and general email? Get good at responding fast and informatively. Set up auto responders for your email system. Make sure the leads are also coming to your smart phone. After the initial email, get the customer on the phone fast so you can schedule an appointment.
  • Hit up your friends and family. Make sure all your friends know what you do. There is nothing worse than finding out your friend bought a car somewhere else.
  • Use Facebook, Google+ and linked-in to sell yourself. Become the expert in the topic on the items you sell. Example: if you sell cars, write about safety features. If you are a wedding planner, tweet about top wedding designs.
    • Make sure your contact info is online and easily accessible.
    • Become “the deal guy or gal” with the best product knowledge.
    • Keep posts public and business professional.
    • Invite followers to buy something every 50 or so posts. Any more than that and it will come off as a sales pitch.
  • Get a Google phone number that rings all your phones at once. This one is so basic, but so important. Go to www.google.com/voice and sign up. Once created, be sure to list all all of your phone numbers, using the google voice number as your main number so that the customer can always reach you. If a customer is ready to call, you are ready to answer.
Categories
Business Development Retail Car Lot

44 Questions to Ask Before Buying A CRM

I have compiled a list of question to ask before buying a CRM. Comment below to add any I have missed. 

  • How fast does support answer the phone?
  • What is you typical support response time?
  • Does each of our locations get a dedicated (non sales) rep?
  • How does the CRM work with e-leads and Internet inquiries?
  • Is the CRM certified with my brand?
  • Will I be able to import my contacts from Outlook or Excel?
  • Will I be able to import my contacts from my Gmail?
  • Will I be able to keep meeting notes in the CRM?
  • Will AutoRaptor integrate with my current DMS (Dealer Management System)?
  • crm-must-be-useful-usable-valuable
  • Will I be able to attach documents, scanned business cards and contracts to contacts in CRM?
  • Will I be able to access my contacts on an iPhone or Android phone?
  • Will I be able to set a follow-up task after I enter a note?
  • Will I be able to keep track of the last time I talked to someone?
  • Will I be able to import contacts from my Mac address book?
  • Will I be able to get task reminders via email/SMS on my cell?
  • Will I be able to access my contacts if I’m in someone else’s office?
  • Will I be able to keep important emails in the  CRM?
  • Will I be able to easily export contacts, notes, and emails from the CRM?
  • Will I be able to attach a signed contract directly to a contact?
  • Will I be able to use the CRM to remind me of a client’s birthday?
  • Will I be able to store all my contact’s contact info in the CRM?
  • Will I be able to use the CRM together with my co-workers?
  • Will I be able to see a map of where a contact is located?
  • Will I be able to see a list of everyone I know with a single area code?
  • Will I be able to tag a group of contacts so I can easily find them later?
  • Will I be able to keep some tasks to myself and share others with everyone?
  • Will I be able to use the CRM to keep track of conversations with vendors?
  • Will I be able to forward important emails directly to the CRM?
  • Will I be able to set a reminder to call someone back in 30 days?
  • Will I be able to use the CRM on a Mac? A PC?  An iPad?
  • Will I be able to keep some contacts private so only I can see them?
  • Will I be able to use the CRM to remember who I talked to last week?
  • Will I be able to comment on a co-worker’s conversation notes? And collaborate.
  • Will I be able to categorize my tasks, emails to send, calls to make?
  • Will I be able to store background and biographical info on each contact? And link them with others like spouse coworker etc.
  • Will I be able to see a list of all the CEOs I know in a town?
  • Will I be able to use the CRM to remind me of someone’s anniversary? Yea and any other memorable date you would like to remember.
  • Will I be able to find out what time it is in a different time zone?
  • Will I be able to see a list of all the people within a company we’ve talked with?.
  • Will I be able to keep related notes together in one place in CRM?
  • Will I be able to integrate CRM with mailchimp.com services? It was the first thing we built into our CRM.
  • Will I be able to capture data from a web form and send it to the CRM?
  • Will I be able to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel any time? Yes and you can export your data at any time as well.
  • Will I love the CRM?
Categories
Business Development Retail Car Lot

Do Your Salespeople Know Their Inventory?

Have you ever had a customer leave your showroom without buying a car? Of course you have. It happens every day at dealerships all over the country. We know that not everyone shopping is ready to buy today and some customers can even wait months or even a year before they make their buying decision. While some of the reasons customers don’t buy are out of your control, some may have bumps on their credit, others owe more on their trade than it’s worth or maybe you just don’t have the car that fits their needs. Or do you?

If you have customers leaving over selection you may need to ask yourself, do the salespeople know the inventory? It may be time to start training on it and if you are asking how to get that done I would suggest running a used car bullpen. Getting your team in front of the cars they need to sell will help you pick up sales and stop customers from leaving over selection.

So what is a bullpen and how does it work. A bullpen is no more than taking your fresh trades, off lease or auction cars and showing them to your sales team in an organized meeting, before you offer them up for sale. Now that’s the short answer, so lets talk about what makes up a bullpen. Well, the first thing you are going to need are some cars. The next thing you need are your salespeople. This one can be tricky, some of the team, and you know who I mean will think it’s a waste of time. Others will show up just because you told them to and some will get engaged and participate in the exercise. You will have to show them why this is a best practice in todays industry and what it will do for them. Once you have buy in from your team its time to set up your bullpen.

Here are a few tips to pull off a great bullpen.

Start by running the bullpen first thing in the morning, and I would have them twice a week. You want to keep them somewhat short, maybe 4 to 5 minutes per car and depending on the size of your store anywhere from 5 to 10 cars per meeting.

Picking the cars you are going to talk about doesn’t have to be hard. The sales managers should be reviewing all the fresh cars everyday. Using an inventory stock sheet will help to weed out the cars that you can’t sell (Bad cars or junk cars) and whatever is left goes in to your bullpen.

After you have picked the cars for the bullpen put together as much information about each car that you can. If you use pricing software print out the market data and what you think you can sell them for. Make sure you have a history report about the cars and any service that has been done to the them. This is good if the vehicle was a trade or lease turn in. It’s always a good idea to have the salesperson that took the car in on trade to tell the team about it and the customer. Having a good story goes a long way when it comes to selling used cars.

Organizing and running the bullpen can be done by a few different people.  Having the used car manager or an inventory manager run the bullpen makes the most sense. However having anyone on the manager team will work. It is essential to have as much interaction from all the managers on the team to show how important the bullpen is. As well as having the veteran salespeople’s participation will help make the most out of the time. You may even want to invite your service manager to join in, this will give service an idea on how much work may be coming their way. Plus having a service opinion on the cars may help you from putting problem cars on your lot saving you money down the road.

Remember you can stock your lot with all types of cars, but if the salespeople don’t know what’s out there your inventory will sit like boat anchors.