Research Shows Dealers Are Overestimating Trust from Customers, Not Completely Knowledgeable About Vehicles and Significantly Dropping Price

CHICAGO — April 11, 2016 — MAXDigital, a premium end-to-end software provider for automotive dealers, released new strategic dealer research on the subject of trust and transparency in the digital age. In conjunction with Erickson Research, MAXDigital surveyed U.S. dealers during the 2017 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Dealers are overestimating their trust by customers. Nearly 70 percent of dealers said their customers have a high level of trust in their salespeople. That is a huge disconnect from the December 2016 Gallup poll that showed just 9 percent of consumers have a high level of trust in car salespeople.
  • Customers are not only driven by price; they’re looking for value. Only 21 percent of dealers completely agreed that customers were most concerned about getting the lowest price on a vehicle. This closely aligns with a consumer study that found 79 percent of consumers bought because they were getting quality and value at a fair price, versus only 21 percent that bought on price alone.
  • Salespeople are not completely knowledgeable about all the cars they sell. Only 35 percent of dealer respondents said their salespeople are completely familiar with all the cars they sell.
  • Customers do their research before arriving at the dealership. 8 out of 10 dealers said customers arrive— either most of the time or always— at the dealership having thoroughly researched car options.
  • Customers sometimes know more than the salesperson. 61 percent of respondents said customers either sometimes, most of the time, or always know more about a vehicle they are considering than the sales team.
  • Dealers are providing large discounts on price. 56 percent of dealers are dropping price $500 or more per vehicle during the sale. Another 11 percent don’t know their average “drop.”

“This research highlights the need for dealers to recognize that their sales processes may no longer match customer expectations or pre-conceived notions,” said MAXDigital CEO Steve Fitzgerald. “Consumer buying habits have changed and it appears that many dealers haven’t addressed the need to become product experts and to sell based on quality and value, instead of price.”

Nearly 400 U.S. dealers completed the survey in January 2017 before and during the 2017 NADA Convention. Respondents included General Mangers, Dealer Principals, Internet Managers and Used Car Managers.

Access the full report and findings here: www.maxdigital.com/trust.

About MAXDigital
MAXDigital provides cloud-based software and mobile applications to the automotive industry. As the industry’s premium end-to-end software solution for automotive dealers, MAXDigital empowers thousands of dealerships across the U.S. to manage inventory, increase gross profits and sell more cars through digital retailing. Founded in 2001 with the FIRSTLOOK inventory management product, the MAXDigital suite of products now includes the innovative MAX Ad®, a content generation and distribution system, MAX for Website®, a vehicle value and content creator for dealer websites, and MAX Digital Showroom®, a real-time inventory and pricing tool for desktop and mobile that builds trust and transparency with customers. For more information visit MAXDigital.com.

Increase Your Profitability Through Proper Inventory Management

Increase Your Profitability Through Proper Inventory Management

Profitability begins well before cars are moving off your lot. The foundation of a solvent auto dealership rests with its ability to manage its inventory in a way that sets up both the customer and salesman for success.

Inventory management is an often underlooked component of profitability. Operating in the black involves more than just touting the features of a car and offering some generous financing.

There are several ways in which an inventory management system can provide a boost to your bottom line.

How to Boost Your Profits with Inventory Management Software

Knowledge of inventory

Having a complete knowledge of your inventory involves far more than simply knowing which cars are parked on your lot at any given time. It includes knowing which cars should be there based on your market demographic.

Different cars sell better in different areas, and an effective inventory management system can align your sales with the needs of your customer base.

Proper pricing

Pricing a car on your lot is not just a way to tempt the customer. It’s a way of protecting your bottom line and ensuring profitability. Too many dealerships fall victim to the “double discount” due to inefficient pricing from the onset.

An inventory management system can leverage real-time market data to help you price your cars in a way that is competitive to the market, comparable to third-party applications and protective of your assets.

Accurate appraisal

It’s easy to overlook trade-in values and used car acquisitions when speaking about profitability. Just offer the Kelley Blue Book value to get the customer on the hook, right?

You need the proper leverage to negotiate competitively and that entails granular details such as trim levels and upgrades.

Inventory Management Made Easy

Inventory management software from MAXDigital uses advanced analytics and intuitive decision-making tools to achieve increased gross profits by maximizing inventory turnover.

It’s never been easier or more efficient to acquire, appraise, and price inventory, all while tracking every vehicle that comes in and off the lot in real time. You’ll start acquiring the right vehicles for your market, pricing them appropriately and watching them practically drive themselves off the lot.

So stop the drop and schedule a free demonstration of our inventory management software today.

Reviewing the 8 Most Important Tools at an Automotive Dealership

Reviewing the 8 Most Important Tools at an Automotive Dealership

The most important automotive tools are not a socket wrench or tire jack. They are the ones used to acquire, appraise, merchandise and sell cars.

Below is just a sampling of the many automotive tools you’ll find at MAXDigital.

Does Your Dealership Make the Most of These Automotive Tools?

  • Vehicle pricing tool. A vehicle that is priced based on assumptions and estimations is one that is likely priced incorrectly. A vehicle pricing tool uses actual data to help dealerships price inventory based on market research and sales data. Not only can this tool help you remain competitive, it can provide greater transparency for consumers.

  • Appraisal tool. A trade-in is more than just a blue book value. It’s an opportunity to maximize gross profits. This tool leverages the power of comprehensive and accurate vehicle market data so dealerships know what to buy, how many of them to buy, and what price to pay for them.

  • Vehicle display page. A vehicle display page (or VDP) is perhaps the most important tool in today’s information-centric marketplace. Online visibility is enhanced when all the requisite information such as fuel economy, options and upgrades is visible on a single page.

  • Inventory management. An inventory management tool helps increase gross profits by reducing inventory turnover time and generates data about which cars are right for any given market location.

  • Digital retailing. Easily create web pages, digital showrooms, and relevant ads by integrating this platform with your inventory management tool.

  • Pricing proof points. Accurate data is used to generate reports that justify and explain why a car is priced a certain way. Not only does it protect your bottom line, but it cultivates trust and builds transparency for the consumer.  

  • Online reputation management. Defend your name and business against online attacks. Some 87 percent of car shoppers consulted online reviews when choosing a dealership to visit according to one recent survey. With consumers placing such a high level of trust in social media and online reviews, this tool is critical to reducing or eliminating negative reviews and restoring your reputation.

  • Analytics. Tracking the actions and behaviors performed on your website allow you to customize marketing efforts accordingly.

Open Up The MAXDigital Toolbox  

The key to the MAXDigital automotive toolbox is also the key to maximizing your marketing and sales strategies. Explore some of our other tools, or better yet — schedule a free demonstration to see these tools in action.

Automotive Merchandising: What It Is, Why It Works, and How We Do It

Automotive Merchandising: What It Is, Why It Works, and How We Do It

Automotive merchandising can begin like a bad joke, and, if done wrong, can end in a bad customer experience.

A man walks into a dealership. He tells a salesperson about a listing he saw online for a particular car. The salesperson leads the man to the car.

“But the car I saw online had more options and upgrades,” the man says.

“Well, yeah, but look — this one has an AM/FM radio,” the salesperson says enthusiastically.

“But the car I saw online was priced much lower than what this sticker shows,” the man says.

“Well, yeah, but that’s if you meet all the qualifying discounts and rebates,” the salesperson says. “But we have great financing!”

You know how this story ends: The man leaves the dealership disgusted and takes his business elsewhere.

The above is an example of poor automotive merchandising.

Automotive merchandising is the manner in which inventory is displayed. Effective automotive merchandising means complete transparency between both buyer and seller regarding pricing details, options and features, mileage, trims, colors, vehicle history, and more.

Effective Merchandising Equals Increased Sales

Some 88 percent of car shoppers use the internet during the buying process, where they conduct searches customized to their needs and sift through dozens of vehicles comparing prices, conditions and more.

With a wealth of information at their disposal, today’s car shoppers are more educated than ever. And if a vehicle is not effectively displayed, there’s a good possibility a shopper will pass it right on by for one that is.

With so much information now available to consumers, dealerships must work extra hard to gain their trust. And any inconsistency between the information a car shopper is getting online and the information they’re getting at the dealership can send them walking instead of driving off your lot.

Automotive Merchandising With MAXDigital

At MAXDigital, we know automotive merchandising. Our merchandising solution allows dealers to:

  • Take pictures of inventory and instantly upload them using a simple smartphone app.
  • Create and print customizable window stickers and buyers guides that make it easy to update pricing.
  • Easily extract options and equipment packages to differentiate a vehicle straight from a desktop or mobile phone.
  • Syndicate vehicle listings to over 300 websites including Autotrader.com and Cars.com.
  • Create more engaging vehicle descriptions and highlights.

Schedule a free demonstration of our automotive merchandising solution to see how you can turn bad jokes into profitable sales and great customer experiences.

A MAXDigital Testimonial Highlight: BMW of Freehold, NJ

A MAXDigital Testimonial Highlight: BMW of Freehold, NJ

At MAXDigital, we have the highest confidence in our product and the real results we have helped dealerships achieve. We love to hear success stories from the people we work with, and we love the opportunity to share those stories with our readers.

With the help of MAXDigital, BMW of Freehold, New Jersey, is making serious progress. Dori Dado, general sales manager at BMW of Freehold, wasn’t sure what to expect from his relationship with MAXDigital — but now he knows he’s gotten even more than he hoped.

BMW Dealer Success With MAXDigital in Freehold, New Jersey

Dado was uncertain, or perhaps just unconvinced, about MAXDigital at first. After learning about MAX’s co-op partnership with BMW from a colleague, he changed his mind.

“I learned that MAX was the only company that was working with BMW corporately and had direct access to the BMW feed,” said Dado.

Once he made this discovery, BMW of Freehold signed on to use MAX’s Digital Showroom to pair each vehicle in it’s inventory with detailed descriptions on the website. Since Dado’s marketing goal is to direct as much traffic as possible to the dealership website, the uniformity and accuracy of MAX Digital Showroom has brought this dealership unanticipated success.

MAX led the BMW of Freehold sales staff in a “Stop the Drop” workshop in August. Since then, the staff has seen a cut of 63 percent in the average drop from initial selling price of used cars to final sales price.

MAX has also helped Dado achieve a second marketing goal — to increase the amount of time visitors spend on the dealership website. Since adopting MAX Digital Showroom, this time has increased by as much as 30 seconds a visit.

Dado said an additional benefit is how much more knowledgeable and confident the sales staff feels knowing they have MAX Digital Showroom on their side when facing a potential buyer who has clearly done their research.

Unbeatable Support When You Work With MAX Digital

As Dado mentions, MAX Digital gives each of our dealers the respect of our full attention when they need it most. Give us a call with any issues, so we can help you solve the problem quickly and efficiently.

To learn more or request a demonstration, explore our website and reach out to the MAXDigital team with questions.

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation: What Are They Saying About You?

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation: What Are They Saying About You?

Research suggests that nearly 80 percent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Close to 90 percent of people trust those reviews as much as they do friends or family.

Today’s business owners have less control over their reputation than ever. But there is still plenty you can do to monitor and shape your digital image. Below are five of the best places to seek feedback about your online reputation.

Online Reputation Management for the Digital Car Dealer

Google

So many consumers begin their search for your business with Google so it only makes sense your search for what they’re saying about you begins in the same place.

If you have a Google account for your dealership, use Google’s “About Me” or “Me on the Web” tools. These resources provide a comprehensive snapshot of almost everything on the Web containing your business or personal name.

Yelp!

Yelp! has become a go-to resource for many consumers to post and read reviews, and it’s a prime destination for a dealership owner to seek out what those customers are saying. Yelp! also has instructions for how to respond to a review so you can take back some control of your reputation.

Glassdoor

What your own employees say about you has as much to do with your online reputation as what your customers have to say. Glassdoor is an opportunity for employees to post reviews about their work environment, and it’s a good way for dealerships to see if any bad reviews may be an inside job.

SiteJabber

SiteJabber is centered largely around reporting scams and fraud and is unique in that, unlike some review sites, businesses cannot pay money to remove negative reviews. Business owners are free to respond and manage their online reputation, though.

Social Mention

A huge percentage of online reviews exist not on dedicated review sites but on social media, where people go to tell their friends and followers about their experience with a particular business. Social Mention collects real-time information about your business from over 100 social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Take Control of Your Online Reputation with MAXDigital

MAXDigital helps car dealerships create and cultivate their online reputations through a variety of proprietary tools. We can even integrate your website with Dealer Rater to show your online ratings directly on every vehicle display page.

Schedule a demonstration to see how MAXDigital can help you gain control over your online reputation, boost your brand image, and improve sales as a result.

5 Skills Every New Employee Needs to Sell Cars in Today’s Market

5 Skills Every New Employee Needs to Sell Cars in Today’s Market

Selling cars is a challenging yet rewarding career. And like almost any profession, there are certain skills that are shared by all the best employees in the industry.

Below are five skills all new car sales team employees should learn if they want to succeed in the business.

How To Sell Cars in the Digital Era

#1. Master Your Inventory

You don’t have to know every last nut and bolt under the hood, but a good car salesperson should be able to explain different trim levels, demonstrate various features, and talk intelligently about options and packages.

#2. Know How to Discount

Today’s car shoppers spend an average of 11 hours online compared to less than four hours offline during their buying experience. That means they’re showing up to dealerships armed with information about MSRPs and market comparisons and come to the table ready to negotiate.

A good sales employee will understand how market pricing works and will know what types of discounts and incentives can turn a knowledgeable browser into a dedicated buyer.

Just be careful that you aren’t discounting too much. You don’t want to eat into your store’s bottom line with unnecessary discounts.

#3. Read Your Customer

Sales associates need to know how to read their customer and respond accordingly to their needs. Family man? Time to talk safety. Recent college graduate? Let’s check out that Bluetooth technology. There’s a car for everyone, and your job is to be a matchmaker.

#4. Build trust

It’s no secret that car sales employees have to work extra hard to gain a shopper’s trust. In fact, car salesmen ranked at the bottom of a Gallup survey — along with politicians — of the least trusted jobs in America. Successful car sales employees know how to change a shopper’s mind within minutes of stepping on the lot.

#5. Ask the Right Questions

Ask a customer how you can help them and they’ll tell you they’re just browsing, then walk away. Ask them if they are thinking about a sedan or an SUV and they’re more likely to engage. Ask direct, open-ended questions that can get a conversation rolling.

MAXDigital: Your Highest Selling Employee

In this digital age of car shopping, the most valuable member of your sales team can be MAXDigital. Our software will turn your sales team into product experts, provide real-time inventory and pricing information, vehicle history reports, market comparison and so much more.

Contact MAXDigital today and set up a free product demonstration to see what’s possible for your sales team.

5 Ways Automotive Marketing is Changing With New Technology in 2017

5 Ways Automotive Marketing is Changing With New Technology in 2017

It’s no secret that technology has changed the way people do everything, and car buying has been no exception. Consider the fact that around 88 percent of people use the internet at some stage of their car buying process.

As technology continues to evolve all the time, so does the way it impacts automotive marketing. Below are five ways technology is expected to change automotive marketing in 2017.

Automotive Marketing is Changing for the Better

#1. Customer connection  

One would think that the internet has created more distance between dealerships and their customers. But in fact, new technology is now bringing them closer than ever.

The latest web technology allows dealers to track customers’ online activity and then make the appropriate engagement. Dealerships now know what cars, price points and features a particular customer is looking at and can target that customer accordingly.

#2. Marketing efforts that are in sync

No longer must dealerships have marketing channels that are so segregated. Technology is helping to sync up direct mail, digital, and traditional marketing platforms under one single dashboard. This linear approach makes for better budgeting, reporting, and spending.

#3. Automated payments

Discounts, incentives, and dealer-defined pricing are more uniform and more aligned with one another thanks to improving technology. Dealerships are more in tune with manufacturers and customers alike, which can help reduce wasteful discounting that eats away at bottom lines.

#4. Leads, leads, leads

Automotive dealerships rely on leads, and technology is delivering more than ever before. Names, phone numbers, and email addresses are now captured with greater efficiency so you know who is looking for cars in your area.

#5. Mobility

Smartphones are getting smarter all the time, and so too are car dealerships. With the use of smartphones and tablets for car shopping on the rise, dealerships must ensure their websites are mobile friendly and adaptable to third-party apps.

MAXDigital: Keeping Automotive Dealers Up To Speed

MAXDigital helps automotive dealers keep up in today’s technology race. As more consumers turn to the internet for their car buying experience, MAXDigital provides digital merchandising, retailing, inventory management, and analytics to car dealerships everywhere. We help bridge the gap between the technology car shoppers use and car dealers need to generate improved acquisitions, pricing, marketing, and most of all — sales.

Schedule a free product demonstration to see how MAXDigital can provide the technology your dealership needs in today’s automotive market.

Selling More Cars One Improved Vehicle Display Page at a Time

Selling More Cars One Improved Vehicle Display Page at a Time

If your inventory page is the bait, your vehicle display page (VDP) is your hook. And in order to reel your customer in, that hook better be sharp.

MAXDigital specializes in optimizing the online presence of car dealerships and among the many ways we help dealers better reach their digital audience is by refining their vehicle display pages.

Below are a few helpful tips for improving your VDPs.

4 Tips for Fixing Your Vehicle Display Pages

Engage your customer with rich content.

An effective vehicle details page will engage a customer through well-written and informative content. Car shoppers don’t want another sales pitch. They want information, details and descriptions.

Show off your vehicle with high-quality photos.

Looks aren’t everything, except when it comes to car shopping. Make the investment to capture each and every vehicle in high-quality imagery that shows off both the inside and outside of the car in a quick-loading and easy-to-scroll fashion.

Highlight relevant information.

If you’re selling a truck, make the torque or towing capacity the lead item. For a minivan, highlight safety features and ratings. With SUV’s, make a push for cargo space and fuel efficiency.

Anticipate what your shoppers will be curious about for each respective vehicle and waste no time giving it to them.

Price accurately and accordingly.

The pricing of your vehicles is where you will either gain or lose the trust of your customer. Car shoppers lean on your competition and on third-party sites like Kelley Blue Book to see if they’re being offered a good deal. Price your inventory according to the market and keep your customer in the driver’s seat.

VDP’s the MAXDigital Way

The tips above are just a few of the ways you can improve your vehicle display pages. When you entrust your VDPs to MAXDigital, we’ll help you welcome your customers to your dealership at the appropriate stage of the buyer’s journey. And because they’ll have all the information they need to kick the tires, customers won’t be leaving your site to investigate elsewhere.

Schedule a live, personalized demonstration to see how we help dealerships everywhere increase customer engagement and boost sales through enhanced vehicle displays pages. With a strong VDP, there’s no such thing as the one that got away.

5 Tips to Merchandise Effectively and Win the Digital Customer

5 Tips to Merchandise Effectively and Win the Digital Customer

With so much information available to today’s online consumers, auto dealerships have to work harder than ever to gain their customers’ attention. Studies show that around 60 percent of the car shopping experience now consists of time spent on third-party sites. This means a dealer’s online merchandising efforts must be properly aligned with the information customers are looking for.

Luckily, MAXDigital has done the research for you and identified the five things a dealership’s website must address on their vehicle details page. Answering these needs will help you effectively win over today’s digital consumer.

5 Details All of Your VDPs Must Tell Your Customers

1. Explain why the car is right for them.

Your customer likely landed on the car that they did because of a filtered search. Filters can account for a wide range of criteria, and you want to give that person a clear sign that they found the right car.

If they selected a low price point, tell them about the great fuel efficiency and reliability. If they selected only four-door vehicles, talk up the roominess of the cabin.

Reiterate the fact that yes, this is the car that is right for them. These efforts begin by acquiring the right cars for your market and we have just the tool to help you with that.

2. Ensure them they aren’t buying a lemon.

Buying a lemon is the worst fear for any used car shopper. Make the vehicle history report visible and accessible with just one click<.

Go a step further by extracting some highlights from the history report, such as “no accidents” or “regular oil changes,” and putting that information in front of the customer.

3. Reassure the customer that it’s a fair price.

Have a market comparison readily available so customers can see how the price of the vehicle stacks up to both the competition and the Kelley Blue Book value alike. Our market-based pricing tool can give you with the precision you need to drive sales.

4. Convince the customer the car is better than the other ones they’ve seen.

Have a comparison tool on your vehicle details page that allows the customer to conduct a side-by-side comparison of features. The majority of online car shoppers visit a dealer’s website for the purpose of checking out inventory, so it’s important for them to know that this is where their search ends.

5. Tell them why they should buy from you.

It’s no secret that dealers have to try extra hard to win over someone’s trust. Highlight anything that makes your dealership trustworthy, whether it’s your number of years in business or online reviews or ratings. Better yet, utilize >our custom tool to do it for you.

Car shoppers want to test drive a vehicle before committing. So take a test drive of MAXDigital’s suite of merchandising solutions by scheduling a product demonstration to see how we can help you win over your customers.