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AutoUSA -- David Shear, ISM says "In handling leads, process matters"; Why Internet Departments Fail

  September 2007 VOLUME 2 ISSUE 5  
Internet Sales in Oklahoma: Market size matters, but so does following a successful process. Customers Want a Positive Sales Experience: Are you sure your dealership is user friendly in every way. Why Internet Departments Fail: There seems to be a pattern to Internet departments that don't perform. Is your dealership one of them. Target your ads based on Customer Behavior: Technology lets you put your ads in front of people who exhibit auto buying behavior. Is Your Website Strategy on Target? Review tips to insure you keep your online strategy focused.


Significance of the Stat:

  • Promise of local online advertising is surpassing past expectations
  • Growth of small companies and midsize companies are potential advertisers to feed this trend
  • By 2011 eMarketer estimates that less than 1/3 of US ad spend will be local
  • In four years the Internet will account for 7.6% of all local ad spending
Bedeviled by the Demon
The new Chrysler Corporation is looking to make a splash with their new Dodge Demon two seat sports car. With both great cutting edge styling and a fuel efficient 4 cylinder engine, they are hoping to grab market share now owned by the Mazda MX5 Miata and the Pontiac Solstice. The Dodge Demon would have a starting price of around $15,000, but no word yet when it will be available in showrooms. (Read More | View the YouTube video)

Gas prices to level off as summer ends
With gas as high as $3.30 a gallon this summer it put a damper on sales of some trucks and SUVs. The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration is predicting a "steady decline" in retail gasoline pricing from now through December. (Read More)

2007 SUVs improve in rollover ratings
Many new sport-utility vehicles, equipped with anti-rollover technology, are less of a risk for rollover crashes than their predecessors, the government says. Rollover ratings issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the 2007 model year show SUVs making progress in this area. (Read More)

Nardelli tells Chrysler team: Focus on quality
Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli stressed to senior managers recently that the automaker must bolster the quality of its vehicles and outlined other areas where improvements are necessary as the company executes a three-year recovery plan to restore profits. (Read More)

Can Honda's New Accord Beat the Camry?
Honda aims to sell more than 400,000 of its new Accords in 2008. But it will be hard to reach that goal without cutting prices - and profits. The vehicle is larger and more stylish but taking on the Camry market is never easy. (See a Picture and Read More)

10 ways to keep your site relevant Keeping your website strategy on target is a constant initiative that takes focus and resources. Here are some tips to insure you manage the process properly. (Read More)

Nissan's Rogue joins the cast of "Heroes" Nissan North America will have an encore performance on NBC's hit "Heroes," acting again as the sole TV advertiser, with limited interruption, during the show's sophomore season premiere Sept. 24. But that's just the beginning, as the automaker will ride along with "Heroes" wherever consumers encounter the show. (Read More)

There's nothing hokey about Internet sales in Oklahoma City
David Shear: Bob Howard Auto Group

David Shear is the eCommerce Director for the Bob Howard Auto Group in Oklahoma City, OK. They are part of Group One, one of the top publicly owned auto groups in the country. David has been with the dealership for 15 years and seven of them in the Internet department. While they may not operate in a major metro market the competition is keen and David and his team have a strong focus on bringing in the business.

AutoUSA: What is the size of your Internet operation?

David: We cover 13 franchises in Oklahoma City both new and used vehicle departments and I have 24 to 27 people reporting to me. Most of our stores operate under the Bob Howard brand and one is Smicklas Chevrolet.

AutoUSA: What is the Oklahoma City marketplace like?

David: The general market has a population of about 500,000 with a broad culturally diverse segment. Business development has been brisk and that's had a positive effect on the general business climate here. We also have a strong government and military workforce and that creates additional marketing opportunities for us. While we work hard to please all of our customers, we put a lot of special emphasis on serving our female clientele. We believe they are looking for a different buying experience and that's exactly what we give them.

AutoUSA: How is their experience different?

David: For our women customers we often let one of our female sales team members handle those leads. However anybody in the department could be working those leads. We never insult these clients by asking if their husband needs to come along to drive the car too. We will offer to take the car to their home and let them test drive it from there. We also encourage them when test driving the vehicle to take it through McDonalds to make sure they are comfortable in all their daily situations. We will also bring the vehicle to their office to let them test drive it from there. It is amazing how many times we sell one or two more cars from those visits as co-workers can't believe a dealership brought the car and offered that kind of personal service.

AutoUSA: Your advertising heavily promotes your websites, but tell me about your lead providers.

David: We do not buy many third party leads but of the ones we do buy, the leads from AutoUSA seem to be a better quality lead, and when we call those folks they are not surprised to hear from us. With some other providers they wonder who we are and how we got their information. While filtering and scrubbing leads is a good thing, I must tell you that we got a lead in the past from "Mickey Mouse" and sold him a car. Naturally his name was not Mickey Mouse, but we followed our process and sent out our email with the information Mickey requested. The fellow called us up and said thanks for the info, spoke with us and then gave us his real name and phone number. He just didn't want a lot of phone calls from pushy auto sales people and was pleased we provide the info he requested even though he put in the fake name and phone number.

AutoUSA: In what other ways are you different?

David: First off we do not use auto responders. Using one of those in my department will get you fired. When an online auto shopper sends in a request for information, there are implied questions in the request. How much is the car, is it in stock and is it still available? Our reply is quite simply something like, "Hi Sally, yes the Ford Fusion is in stock, your Internet Price is $X, and when would you be available to come down and take it for a drive." Many auto responders say thanks for your interest - blah- blah- blah, and if you have any questions please go visit our website. Well they just came from the website, why should your communication send them back there. I have never understood why dealers do that.

AutoUSA: Many training programs say to avoid talking about price. What are your thoughts on this?

David: I have been doing Internet sales for seven years and started with one employee and now have a team of 27 staffers, we are ranked number two for Internet Sales on the Wards List, and I believe people shopping on the Internet want a price. They may get a similar price from my competitor but we will continue to follow up with them, where many of the other stores in town will only send one price quote and have no follow up program. I have multiple email accounts and I mystery shop all the competitors to see their process and I am amazed at their lack of follow-up. Their attitude seems to be, "Here is my one price quote, if you don't buy the vehicle from me now, the heck with you."

On new vehicles we will tell the prospect what MSRP is on the vehicle and tell them how much they can buy it for including all rebates, and discounts. This insures they are comparing apples to apples. If they aren't specific we provide a range of prices on the model they requested. When we do speak with them and they say our price was high, we then talk to them about equipment and MSRP. This is called communicating with the customer and good things happen when you communicate.

AutoUSA: That sounds like it streamlines the process at the dealership.

David: Our average customer spends about 45 minutes at the dealership taking delivery. We take the credit application through our secure website application and prepare all the paperwork in advance so it cuts the time they spend in the store. This keeps them happy and helps us work with more customers on a daily basis.

To view their site go to


Web Selling & Marketing
Internet News Developments of Significance to Dealer Management

How User Friendly is Your Dealership?

Customers interact with your dealerships in many ways. They use the Internet to visit you on the web, they call for information, they stop in to test drive a car, and each touch point says something about your dealership. Is it saying something good? (
Read More)

The Top Reasons Internet Departments Fail:

Virtually every dealership has an Internet initiative, but many owners will differ on the effectiveness of those departments. The question is, "Are some dealerships setting up their departments to fail?" How is the management team structured? And does the department have the authority to go with all of their responsibilities? (
Read More)

Behavioral Targeting for your Advertising

Many advertisers in the online arena and digital media companies are using behavioral targeting to reach consumers with specific interests. If you are not clear on how all this works read this archive article which explains just how it all works. (
Read More)

This newsletter is published as a combined news, editorial, and market research enewsletter by Automotive Information Network, Inc. and AutoUSA. The content is intended to be for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only.

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Web Editor: Mark Dubis
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