Children viewing monitor

5 Ways To Give Your Dealership Website A Virtual Facelift

Your website is your first impression for folks looking at dealerships online. Not only is it a representation of your brand, but it’s also a way to attract new customers. In only a matter of moments, a visitor to your website can determine if they want to do business with you. They may not have driven by your dealership or seen your commercials. Therefore, your site is as much of a representation of your dealership as the location itself. 

Poor website design
Web button error

One of the most important attributes of a website is the ability to communicate what the business does and who it serves. Your website needs to be able to answer questions a customer might have and give an accurate representation of your brand. At the same time, you can’t fill your website with so much content that your message is lost. 

The following are 5 ways you can improve your dealership’s website:

White Space

Although you want your website to pop and grab people’s attention, it’s also important to have white space. This gives the impression of organization and cleanliness in a modern way, focusing the attention on essential aspects within that white space. It can be specific models, categories, new or pre-owned, etc. The possibilities are endless. A recent study by Crazy Egg found that user attention increased by 20% when using white space around images, titles, and text. 

Create Calls To Action 

People are going to venture onto your website at all times: early in the morning, during the business day, and even in the middle of the night. Calls To Actions (CTAs) are an excellent way for someone to begin communication with you based on what they want. Be careful not to bog down the page with too many CTAs. This can cause your message to be lost in the chaos. Less is more when using Call To Action buttons. Sometimes all you need are “View Details” and “Get ePrice” to adequately serve the needs of someone visiting your website. 

Mobile Formatted Website

Not everyone who comes to your website will be on their computer or laptop. This is why your website must also be mobile formatted. Keep it easy to navigate and identical to the desktop version of your website. Many website building software products have built-in responsive design tools that allow your pages to detect the size of the screen being used, and reformat the page for optimal display. Mobile-Friendly websites rank higher in search results done on the phone compared to non-mobile formatted sites. If you want to read more on the statistics of mobile-friendly websites, click here

Put A Face Behind The Business 

When all the focus is on how to drive traffic to your website and improve the overall appearance, many businesses focus on the products and services offered. This can cause them to neglect the actual person-to-person experience. When people go to the dealership, they’re working with a real person. Since a visitor on your website doesn’t have someone greeting them it’s critical to have a page showing pictures of your staff on your website to give the visitor a welcoming vibe. Don’t limit the collection to just the sales team and service advisors either. Include service and reconditioning staff, finance, back-office, and executives, too.

People want to feel like they’re working with someone who genuinely cares about their business and not just after their money. Having a page with staff profiles “humanizes” your website and allows your staff to introduce themselves before someone comes into the dealership. 

High-Quality Photos 

The photos you use online for the vehicles on sale at your dealership are essential to determine whether or not someone is interested. It’s the product’s first impression, so you want to make sure the cars look their best. Using high-quality images shows your dealership cares about the brand and giving the user the best possible experience online. A study by Cox Automotive found that 90% of customers find photos important when looking for new or used cars online. 

Children viewing monitor

There are plenty of other ways you can improve the online experience for your dealership’s website. These are 5 of the primary techniques that the most successful dealerships use for their sites. Give it a try with yours, and the results may surprise you.

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Establishing Customer Contact

Smiling woman wearing telephone headset

Communication is one of the most important aspects of running a thriving dealership. Customer service is improved, financial operations are streamlined, departments work together much more effectively, and more. Customer contact is the very core of what keeps business moving at a dealership. Without customers, there would be no business – plain and simple. 

There have been recent significant changes in how dealerships conduct business. More and more dealerships have entered the digital age of technology to serve their customer’s needs better. But how do you create a system of communication amongst your customers that not only shows your location is “current,” but is also capable of meeting their ever-growing demands? Within moments of a customer landing on your website, they know if they want to do business with you. Let’s take a more in-depth look. 

Old Meets New 

When you look at the customers that come to your dealership, you probably have a wide range of “old meets new.” The “old” would refer to your customers who have been with you since the beginning. They know the quality of service they will be getting and have referred their friends and family to your shop. You know them on a first-name basis and probably did the first oil change on their kid’s car. The “new” refers to the customers who are used to technology being at their fingertips. It’s a way of life for them, and they’d expect the facility caring for their car to be up to those same standards. 

What Happens Next

Today, communication is so much more than an email and a phone call. It’s all about taking the standard methods to the next level with tools such as IVM, text messaging, and ringless voicemail technology. These tools will allow you to connect with thousands of customers all at once without the time consuming manual outreach. For example, interactive voice messaging (IVM) can be an automated call to customers that gives them different responsive scheduling options for their appointment. 

Texting has also become a primary form of communication and is a great way to communicate with your customers. Customers never want to feel like they aren’t getting the same level of service they can get elsewhere. Without evidence that your dealership is using current technology, some customers could question if their car is being repaired following the latest repair procedures. They could voice their opinion in an online review, letting other customers know of your outdated methods. And that’s when the negative online reviews can start to affect your business.

Communication Is Key

There are several dealers out there who make the same mistake of not keeping in communication with their customers as soon as they drive off the lot. However, communication is critical in all aspects of dealership operations, from sales to service and beyond. 

When it comes to the service department, your customers want to feel informed and not left in the dark. They want to know what’s happening throughout their car’s repair and if something comes up. Just waiting for a call from the shop saying, “your car is ready” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Ask your customers how they prefer to be contacted and make it part of their record. Whenever possible, stay connected with your service customers by sending them text messages throughout the process of their repair. If something bigger comes up that didn’t appear in the estimate, call them and follow it up with an urgent text. 

To run a successful dealership is to have multiple communication methods to your customers. It may just surprise you what can happen just by discovering which communication method works best for your customers. 

PDR Estimate and Invoicing Software on different devices

How PDR Software Makes Life Easier For You And Your Customers

While you may see the front-end of your PDR business as the primary force behind profit, you also have to consider your back-office and customer experience. When it comes down to it, both how well-run your back-office and how great your customer service is will decide how well your business does. Every front-end sale relies on your back-office, you providing customers with a transparent and convenient experience. 

The repair business is constantly improving to foster more productivity. In this rapidly changing market, the best PDR businesses have PDR software that makes back-office work way easier and helps create customer-friendly service experiences. Better organization, way less paper, and everything at your fingertips.

Repair360 Inspection Screen

PDR Software:

It Can Handle All Of Your Back-Office Needs

The great thing about PDR software is that it comes stacked with plenty of features. You can track work time, commissions, hourly payments, customer estimates, work orders, invoices, billing, and way more. Beyond that, most reputable software can integrate with pre-existing accounting programs you may have (Quickbooks, Sage, etc.)

It Can Make Your Front-End Operate More Efficiently

When it comes down to it, your business is the actual repair work, and software can’t do that for you. With PDR software, you can create individual or lot-walk inspections and estimates, automate tasks, assign work to technicians, attach photos & documents, but also set up a notification system for your employees to be alerted on a job’s status. Ultimately, it cuts down on paper and unnecessary processes and increases your business’ communication. 

It Can Improve Your Customer Service

While PDR software is extremely helpful for your back-office and front-end retail work, it’s also excellent for customer service. Scan the VIN with your mobile device and the basic information about the vehicle is displayed. A few clicks later, and you’re ready to estimate the work. You can set up a text messaging system that notifies customers of exactly what’s going on with their vehicle. Better software can also create easy-to-navigate customer forms, email and print templates for your business forms that include your branding, and estimate approvals on device, via email, or web-connect.  

PDR Matrix - Hail Matrix
Multiple PDR and Hail matrixes included, and you can customize

AutoMobile Technologies Makes PDR Software

AMT offers software solutions designed to help business owners and technicians in the reconditioning industry be more efficient, provide customers with the information they need, give you better visibility, and give you peace of mind knowing that your back-office is always up-to-date and you’re building a positive relationship with customers.

ReconPro™ is the leading management software for PDR, SMART Repair, Wheel Repair, Paint Correction, and Automotive Reconditioning. We’ve been reducing paperwork and increasing productivity and profits for our users for over a decade. Let’s talk about how we can help your business.

money clock

Overtime Rule For Dealerships

The Supreme Court ruled last year that Service Advisors are exempt from overtime pay requirements. How this impacts your employee morale and customer engagement, and what you can do to keep the teams motivated.

Reputation Stars and Lightbulb

Positive Online Reviews – The Secret to Protecting Your Dealership’s Reputation

Customers already have a difficult time trusting car dealers, yet they need to feel trust in where they are making their next car purchase. One of the most effective ways a potential customer can gain trust with your dealership is to read reviews.

Turbo vehicle

Detailing the Batmobile

The most important car you work on is the one ahead of you. Treat it like it’s special. It is!

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5 Ways To Create Employee Engagement

  • Recognition
  • Purpose
  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Make it Special

Employees who are fully engaged in their workspace and what they do can genuinely change a company. They are fueled with inspiration and focused on the company vision. When this happens, it can spread to the entire company and positively affects the customers. 

However, recent studies have shown that the most experienced employees are often the least engaged in a company. One study showed that 68% of employees are “not fully engaged at work” (Gallup). That’s well over half of your entire staff! Another showed that Service and Sales departments had the weakest level of employee engagement (Netsurvey). In other words, the employees who have daily interactions with customers are the least engaged. 

That’s not what you, or any business, would want. Thankfully, there are ways to help your employees stay motivated. We compiled a list of 5 ways that have been proven to keep your team motivated in the workplace. Check them out below: 

1)  Recognition 
Your team needs to feel their work is noticed and appreciated. Take time to give positive feedback to your employees. It will make them feel valued and encourage them to engage even more in the company to help bring the dealership to new levels. 

2)  Create A Purpose 
Employees want to be a part of something beyond a paycheck. Perhaps your dealership partners with a charity during a Summer Sales fundraiser event. Or maybe when a customer purchases a new vehicle, a portion of that sale goes to the charity of their choice. Now, more than ever, people want to make the world a better place in any capacity. If you show that your dealership gives back, your employees will feel more engaged in a business that represents a positive contribution to the community. 

3) Top Positions Need To Lead By Example
Whether they are managers, executives, or team leaders, the top positions at your dealership must set an example for being engaged in the workplace. As noted above, the most experienced employees often have the least engagement. Create opportunities for top positions to work together with other team members to create an exciting atmosphere in your dealership. Your top positions must demonstrate they are fully engaged and motivated because this will influence the rest of your team. 

Leading by example will give your staff the incentive to work hard and contribute. People can instantly tell walking in if they want to do business with your dealership, based on the energy they feel. If they can tell your team lacks motivation, they’ll go elsewhere. 

4) Work Together 
Your employees may be lacking engagement because they feel like they have no voice. Have your leadership positions work together with the rest of your team allows them to give opinions, suggestions, etc. This will allow your leaders to note which employees lack motivation, and encourage your stronger employees to step up and grow within the company. 

5) Make Them Feel Special
First days, birthdays, and work anniversaries are all big deals at the workplace. Treating these like just another day misses an easy opportunity to keep your employees engaged. You must make your employees feel appreciated right from the start and throughout the year to create camaraderie among the staff and a welcoming environment where they’re genuinely excited to work. 

Your dealership could be their dream job if you encourage employee engagement. It’s possible, and these are just 5 of the ways you can create that. 

Cideo clapboard

Benefits And Ideas For Video Marketing Your Dealership

  • People prefer to learn visually
  • Visual learners mentally project themselves into the experience they are watching
  • Creating videos is easier than you think

Over the past few years, video marketing has been a proven way to engage with customers and increase sales. Most consumers are conducting online research before they ever walk into a dealership. The more answers they can get online, the more confident they’ll feel in their vehicle purchase. People prefer learning visually over reading a textual explanation. This is where video marketing can significantly benefit your dealership to gain more customers, boost sales, and have a more prominent presence. 

Check out some of these statistics about video marketing from recent years: 

  • A recent Cisco study found video traffic will be 82% of all consumer internet traffic worldwide by 2022. This is a 75% increase from 2017. 
  • 96% find videos helpful when making big purchase decisions online. (Animoto) 
  • 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product through video (Hubspot)
  • 81% of businesses already use video for marketing purposes (Hubspot) 
  • People have a 95% higher chance to retain a video’s message compared to only 10% of those who can retain a message from reading (Forbes

There is ample evidence that video is beneficial for any business, and this is especially true when it comes to car buying. Your brand is the cornerstone of how you market yourself online. Dealerships have to stand out or be swallowed whole by competition who have perfected their marketing. If they have video content and you do not, get ready to be swallowed.

You read the statistics and now want to know where to begin. Here are a few video marketing ideas to boost sales for your dealership: 

Virtual Walkaround 

Filming a virtual walkaround of the vehicles you’re selling is a great way to engage with online customers. They can see how the car looks from all angles, inside the vehicle, and any additional features that come with the car. Have the sales rep explain the vehicle the same way they would if a customer was right there with them to create a personal experience, even online. The purpose of this video is to showcase a car before a potential buyer visits the dealership. These videos can be posted everywhere your dealership has a web presence and linked to the vehicle listing. 

Customer Testimonials 

What better way to engage with customers online than to show other customers’ experiences? There is no better proof than filming various testimonials of customers describing their experience at your dealership. It also doesn’t have to be limited to car buying. Get testimonies from specific departments, including Finance, Service, and Parts. Also, testimonial videos create an opportunity for customers to share videos on their social networks. This gives your dealership instant credibility from the buyer’s friends and family members who also might be in the market. 

Introductions 

Filming introductions of your sales and customer service team allow for potential customers to see who they would be interacting with. This is an excellent way for your dealership to engage with prospects because it creates a more personalized experience. Besides, it allows your sales team to highlight their language skills and other specialties that may be better suited for a particular customer. As far as your customer service goes, filming their individualized intros creates welcoming energy to your entire dealership. By the time the customer arrives at the dealership, they’ll feel a sense of familiarity walking in and less like they’re going to be attacked by predators after their money. 

New Model Releases 

Anytime a new model is released, it’s a great chance to create a video showing the upgrades and changes from the previous model. Film it in the same walkaround style as your inventory videos to give a real in-depth look at what the new model has to buy it. You can even film a sales rep explaining why customers might want to consider purchasing the new model as opposed to the previous model or comparable cars in the same category. You might also be able to get video footage directly from the manufacturer in advance of receiving the new model and add in your own audio.

How else can your dealership use this powerful medium to benefit your customers and your bottom line? Ask your team what videos they think would be effective, and let them be part of the process. Video has proven to be a beneficial marketing technique to boost sales and engage with potential customers. It’s easy to do and super fun at the same time. You never know where video can take you! 

Fleet Trucks

Fleet Managers Face Big Challenges

  • Operating Costs
  • Repair Costs
  • Vehicle Availability
  • Misuse
  • Driver Safety
  • More…

Being a manager of a fleet operation is no easy task. You’re responsible for heavy-duty operations and your employees being all over the place. Despite emerging new methods to manage fleet operations, such as telematics solutions and on-demand maintenance services, the problems continue.

The following are some of the biggest challenges that today’s fleet managers face: 

Increased Operating Costs: Fuel is what drives a fleet, and increasing fuel costs make all the other operating costs more expensive, too. Labor rates, cost of oil, and the increasing fuel cost all impact additional operating expenses such as tire replacements and general maintenance. 

Increased Repair Costs: With fleet drivers ignoring the signs to take their vehicles to be maintained, a simple oil change could turn into an engine failure. Not to mention, if a car is damaged in an accident, the cost of collision repair has increased as advancements in-car technologies have continued. Modern vehicle systems are increasingly integrated, so damage to one component can impact multiple vehicle systems. The cost to replace these more sophisticated parts, and the skilled technicians required to do the work are all higher. 

Truck Availability: Production dates can often be delayed, which creates unpredictability with lead times. This means the vehicles you expect and require just aren’t available. It’s truly “hurry up and wait” since fleet managers are all ready to go, but don’t have the inventory. 

Misuse of Company Assets: It can be challenging to manage every aspect of your fleet effectively, even if your hardware and asset management is buttoned-up. Your people resources can be an equal challenge. Drivers could be taking longer than scheduled breaks tor driving recklessly to make up for the wasted time. Operators could be using the vehicle outside of work hours, increasing vehicle wear and the potential risk and liability that comes with that misuse.. 

Lack of Individual Attention: Many Fleet managers work in large companies that are often growing and handling upwards of thousands of assets. Because of this, operators can often feel more like workhorses instead of valuable company assets. It can be a challenge to implement systems to ensure drivers feel well-managed and appreciated.

Driver Safety: NHTSA reported an increase in large truck accidents from 2017 to 2018, despite a decrease in many other categories. The increase is tied to drivers working longer hours and the associated lack of sleep. Without implementing software tracking solutions to monitor a driver’s safety or hours, there’s no way to determine when they need to have rest. Lack of rest means they’re a hazard to themselves, their vehicles, and other drivers.  

Additional Fleet Management Transaction Fees: Several companies are using separate services to aid in fleet management. These include motor vehicle records, registrations, tolls, etc. The cost of using these ancillary programs create additional transaction fees, and integrating the data to an effective fleet management solution can be daunting. 

These are just a few of the challenges that fleet managers face today, and if you manage a fleet, these may be all-to-familiar. You’re not alone. Thankfully, there are solutions out there for each one of these challenges. From telematics software to maintenance management programs to mobile repair services, the answer to each one of these challenges is available to help you keep your fleet in top condition, and turn your challenges into accomplishments.

Man sea rock horizon

5 Ways To Conquer Your Fear In Decision-Making

As the person responsible for the success of your business, making decisions for your dealership can be a daunting task. Even those who are at the top of their field can still get nervous when it comes to making decisions. You may feel like you don’t have enough data to make a solid decision, and that can add to the pressure to make a call. When the stakes are high, there’s risk involved with every possible choice. All of these are valid reasons to feel anxious about committing to something. That’s why we pulled together some ways you can conquer your fear during the decision-making process. Check them out below: 

 1) Review Past Successes 

It’s crucial that as you are prepping for a big decision that you reflect on past achievements you were able to accomplish for your dealership. Too often, we focus on the areas where things went wrong rather than focus on the areas where things went right. What were the steps you took to achieve those goals? And when there were failures, what did you learn and how did you move the business forward beyond that setback? Once you start to believe in what the dealership is capable of, nothing will stop you!

2) Don’t Forget To Breathe 

Too often, when we’re focused on making an important decision for any business, we forget to breathe. There may be local competition or market forces that are putting on the pressure for you to act fast. Very few wise decisions were ever made on impulse. You may need to step away from the process for a few minutes, hours, or even a few days, depending on how big the decision is. This reflection will allow you to regain focus and have a renewed sense of clarity before you finalize your decision. 

3) Recognize Potential Risks 

As you approach your decision, you’ll be able to recognize any potential risks. Depending on the situation, the riskier option may be the better choice if it reaps bigger rewards.  Big bets can lead to great success, but it’s important to have backup plans in place. It’s essential for each member of your team, across all impacted areas of the business, to understand the risks and know how to respond. There are really only 3 possible outcomes to prepare for: wild success, expected success, or lack of success. If you build plans against each of those outcomes in advance, there will be no time lost in trying to decide how to proceed when the results come in. 

4) Realize There Are No Wrong Decisions 

Anytime you’ve made a decision for the betterment of the dealership, it’s always been what you have felt was right in that exact moment with those circumstances. Even if some past decisions led to mistakes, you and your team learned from them and evolved. There’s no use to lamenting over what happened or what could have happened. When you decide your dealership is ready to evolve once again, realize there’s no such thing as a wrong decision, you’ll be much more confident in making the next one. 

5) Communicate

A dealership can be a big team across several different departments. Communication is critical during this time to make each team member feel like they play an important role in the decision-making process. Your employees need to feel valued, and soliciting input and information from them will also show honesty and integrity on your part. People like to feel like they are part of something and are valuable assets, not just there to do the work. The final decision is yours, but the process of sharing the challenge with others can give you perspective. You’ll gain more supporters encouraging you in your choices for the dealership by doing this as opposed to doing everything solo. After all, there’s no “I” in Team. 

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