How to Move Your Brick and Mortar Store Online

How many ideas that get heard about the internet are really good ones? For most, the answer is "not many". The focus of most internet endeavors on the table for dealers is on the wrong thing, and also the reason the results are unpredictable. For dealers they think the internet is a race to cut in the “up” line and have the first crack at the next customer. This is how we do it on the lot; but the reason you want to have the first crack at a customer "no matter what" on the lot is that you have a system in place to be reasonably confident that:

 • If the customer has payment expectations - you can still sell the car 

• If the customer likes another car a bit better - you can still sell the car 

• If the customer thinks your price is a bit high - you can still sell the car

 • If the customer heard something bad about you- you can still sell the car 

• If the customer was told to wait until summer- …you get the idea.

The point is this: if you are NOT putting effective messaging on your website, if you cannot be reasonably sure you can convert the customer – then the traffic you receive on your website is nearly wasted. Not entirely wasted mind you, but about as effective as the traffic that flows onto the lot on Sunday for states with no Sunday sales. There is a chance there to sell a car, but ultimetely there is nothing you can do about it. 

Stores in states with laws against selling cars on Sundays can attest that: Lots are teeming with customers on most Sundays, these guest LOVE it, they can cruise around unaffected and look at cars all day and no one “slows-them down”. The results from this “traffic” are not significant; most people spend as much time showing themselves the EXIT as they do the inventory. In those states it is illegal to try and sell cars on Sundays so it makes sense not to “pursue” this traffic. On the internet, it is perfectly legal… so why are dealers letting customers take a Sunday stroll across their website, and not doing what they do best: “Slowing the customer down”, 

We have all seen the impossible as salespeople, and now we don’t trust anybody that’s says that they aren’t a buyer, or aren’t interested. We have many times over seen the customers that did several 180 degree turns, and a 270 degree turn before eventually deciding to take the car home. This is the same customer that will convince your salespeople there is no chance of selling them a car, and send them back to the desk - to try and convince you of it. This is what separates the managers from the new guys: Faith in the process. “Just bring them inside.” – Right? 

So why are managers and dealers acting like the “new guy” when it comes going out and snagging these “elusive” customers online? The opportunities are there, and the tools needed to do the job are the same tools dealers are already using, “inside”. 

…Just like you would tell the new guy, “Run out there and say HI… “, what matters is to engage the prospect in the PROCESS, not consider or even acknowledge the fact that they are already driving away. “Just bring them inside”. There is a way to make your internet “showroom” work the same way and be just as sticky as the “inside” of your store. 

Effective messaging is just about starting that same process one step sooner, ONLINE. Doing what we do in the store, ONLINE. Giving the customer an expectation of what the process will be like with our company, showing them who they will be working with on the deal, showing them previous satisfied customers, featuring a bit of our understanding of the product, maybe some about the product itself, etc. If you expect to give the customer an “experience” at your site, the results will be greatly worth the effort. 

There are several types of messages you can deliver online. Too often dealerships rely on either strictly informational messages, or completely on SALES messages. There is nothing new about either of them in the eyes of a prospect, or in the reality of the marketplace. The first thing about effectively communicating your brand online is understanding what types of messages are available to you, so that you can understand what each type is intended to do, and even how they can work together. Here are 6 different types of videos or messages that you can deliver for you customer: 

#1: Testimonials 

#2: Brand Statements 

#3: Product Features 

#4: Department Statements 

#5: Event/Charity Coverage

 #6: Top Salesperson Bios 

There is no limit of effective messages you can give your customer, they WILL watch these messages and they WILL have an effect. There is also no shortage of ways to broadcast these messages once they are produced. This distribution is FREE online – using your own sites and sites like: Youtube, Facebook, Google+, Vehix, Autotrader, CarFolks, Google, Review sites etc. 

When it comes to building value online, make sure your focus is on the right thing. Building value in your store, your process, and your product… Don’t get caught racing to front of the up-line, just to come back inside and tell everyone that “you didn’t have what they wanted”. Don’t expect your cars to sell themselves online – SLOW the customer down and allow your store to make the difference for every customer – even the “smart” ones online. 


 Andrew Myers 

COO - What's Next Media

ABOUT WHAT'S NEXT MEDIA: WNM is an auto-exclusive video company based out of Seattle, WA. We combine car people with video talent, and our pantented CGI processes, creating one-of-a-kind branded dealer automotive video. 3908 Aurora Ave, Seattle, WA | 206.478.8721 

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