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.
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.
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
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! 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As MAXDigital customers know, we have been warning about a shift in the industry since late 2015. Now it’s been confirmed. This month, J.D. Power reported that after years of climbing used-car prices, they’ve fallen into what analysts are calling “the first material decline we’ve seen since the recession.” Read more about what we expect to happen next, and how dealers can overcome continued pricing and profit pressure.
Over the past year, used-car prices have declined about 4 percent on average compared with 2015. Not just in one or two categories: J.D. Power’s Used Car Guide found that 14 out of 16 categories were affected.
How did we know it was coming? At the onset of the recession in 2008, consumers were holding onto their cars when they ordinarily would have bought new ones. This created scarcity in the used-car market, pushing prices higher. It was only a matter of time for the recession to ease and the pendulum to swing back.
Add to this the growing popularity of new-car leasing. According to Experian Automotive, the auto industry’s increased willingness to offer leases with low monthly payments helped fuel a rise in leasing from 20% of the new-car market in 2011 to nearly 35% currently. This, in turn, has led to a wave of late-model, recently-leased vehicles flooding into used-car lots—according to Manheim Consulting, about 570,000 more than in 2015.
So here we are, in a flooded used-car market with correspondingly depressed prices. And the future, as forecast by us and other industry watchers, is no better: all signs point to prices continuing to drop for at least the next couple of years. With gross margins tighter than they’ve been in years, how can any dealer profit or even survive?
The key is in not letting your gross margin drop any lower. That may not sound like an easy thing to do, as pressure increases to move vehicles at lower prices. But you can target one of the leading causes of margin erosion: consumer haggling.
Today, consumers spend hours researching vehicles before they set foot in a showroom. They know what you’ve got, they know what your competitors are charging for similar vehicles, and if your sales team isn’t equipped to answer all their questions, they’ll negotiate hard—cutting into your already-low gross margin.
How can MAXDigital help you “stop the drop?” By demonstrating to consumers that your prices are fair. When they see your customized Value Report complete with MSRP and OEM package information, and trusted third-party evaluations from the likes of Kelly Blue Book, NADA and Edmunds, consumer haggling is reduced or eliminated. So instead of being negotiated away, maintain your profits through communicating quality and value. Start protecting your margin by setting up a demo today.
CHICAGO — January 26, 2016 — MAXDigital, a premium end-to-end software provider for automotive dealers, announced today a number of software innovations including a newly re-designed MAX Digital Showroom mobile experience, added recall alert features for appraisals, and an enhanced mobile application.
The re-designed MAX Digital Showroom features an updated user interface with larger photos, interactive map, native phone features, a photo carousel, and a singular scrolling screen, resulting in a better user experience for both dealers and consumers.
“Our mission is to identify opportunities that make our software more convenient and easy to use for auto dealerships,” said MAXDigital CEO Steve Fitzgerald. “This re-design provides an outstanding user experience and better functionality. It will empower dealers to increase gross profits by selling the value of each individual vehicle and avoid additional discounting. The end result is a more satisfied customer because they have a better overall customer experience.”
Other notable enhancements include:
• Recall Identification & Remedy: Allows users to quickly learn if a vehicle has any open recalls, and if there is a remedy, during the appraisal process. The inventory management software pulls data from multiple sources to provide the most accurate recall information on each vehicle.
• Mobile to Desktop: The MAXDigital mobile app now includes two-way communication allowing information to synchronize between the phone and desktop. It also features an improved design and appraisal functionality.
• Group View in Digital Showroom: The inventory of all dealerships within a group can now be viewed in Digital Showroom. By having all inventory in one location, a salesperson can keep a customer from shopping with a competitor if the desired unit isn’t on their lot, but is located at a sister store. New group reporting has been developed to allow side-by-side store performance, so best practices can be duplicated.
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.
Car buyers are becoming more educated in the way they shop. They are more informed about prices, terms, and car values than ever before. So it’s imperative that dealerships keep pace with this knowledge race and learn as much about their customers as their customers know about them.
One dealership in particular that displayed this desire to learn was Rainbow Luxury Imports in Covington, LA. Rainbow acquires higher-end models such as BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, and Audi at auctions and reconditions them before displaying them on the lot. The only thing missing with this business model?
General manager Mark Rose didn’t know how many cars to buy, how much to buy them for, how long to keep them on the lot, or how to price them. All of these metrics are critical influencers of a dealership’s bottom line. And Rose had no proven method of figuring them out.
Rose sought out help from MAXDigital and implemented the FirstLook Inventory Management Platform and the MAXDigital Marketing and Sales Platform to help acquire, price, merchandise and sell vehicles more efficiently and cost effectively. Rose is now able to utilize valuable data to validate prices, create focused advertising and generate vehicle information listings for every step of a buyer’s journey.
“What MAXDigital did for me was to put all the marbles on the top of the table so that I can deal with one champion partner to help me have a holistic look at my business,” Rose said.
Selling Vehicles the MAXDigital Way
Luxury Imports is just one of many dealerships that have benefited from MAXDigital’s suite of solutions. We help dealers everywhere in the four critical areas that make up a successful and profitable dealership:
- Acquire. Acquire and stock your inventory with the right type of cars for your market and perform accurate cost-to-market appraisals.
- Price. Properly price vehicles to remain competitive and profitable while still allowing for discounting.
- Merchandise. Improve the online shopping experience for your customers in a way that will sell the vehicle before the customer ever sets foot on your lot.
- Sell. Improve your Customer Relationship Management to differentiate your vehicles from the competition.
Schedule a free demonstration of MAXDigital’s solutions today and become our next success story.