Does Your Web Site Let Customers Communicate With You?
By Ralph Paglia
As an Internet Sales Manager, you have a great opportunity to impact the marketing
results for every department in the dealership. We have been working with a group in
Kansas City whose Acura dealership came to us with a desire to improve their online
Service Scheduling process that is offered to customers within their web site… The
results are that they now get 3 to 5 Service Appointments per day. By working with the
ISM, we showed him how to use the form editing application within the dealership’s web
site utilities to customize their online service scheduling so that it reflected their shop’s
policies. As a result, the Service Manager is now a big fan of the Internet Dept. and the
Service Dept. now picks up a percentage of the web site’s monthly cost. If you would
like to see their site and the customized online service scheduling forms, go to:
We have also worked with Jay Wolfe Acura’s management team to customize their other
web site forms so that they better reflect the way customers want to speak to the dealer at
that point in time. For example, consider the Trade-In portion of an “I’m Interested”
online form… The customer has picked a car from your inventory, and is interested in
finding out what kind of deal you can offer. What do most dealership web site’s do? The
form will ask that customer all sorts of details about their trade-in. In many ways, it is
almost humorous that some dealers ask the customer for more information about their
trade-ins with their online forms than what they put in the description listings of their
inventory being displayed online!
Anybody who has sold cars knows that there is a time to talk about the customer’s trade-
in, but it is not when you first greet the customer. In reality, all we really want to know,
in the beginning of the lead management process, is IF the customer is going to have a
trade-in. So, why do we ask for all the details on the customer’s trade-in as part of our
first online interaction with the customer? Because when the people who designed those
forms put all those hours of work into coming up with all the fields that dealers would
want to see, they thought it would be a great idea to ask for all the customer’s trade-in
information… Isn’t it great to show a dealer that your online form asks the customer
when was the last time they had their trade-in serviced? But, these are web developers
who have never sold cars.
That’s why you should always make sure that whoever is supplying your dealership with
a web site, provides you with an easy to use back end utility that allows you to customize
the site as often as you wish, including the forms that customers fill out.
Our recommended approach to the customer’s trade-in, when they have either picked a
car from inventory, or have configured a vehicle, is to have the form simply ask:
Will You Be Trading In A Vehicle?
Then, a drop down window with these choices:
Maybe, Depends on How Much You’ll Give Me
Old <Make>’s Never Die, They Just Get Handed Down In My Family!
For dealers with the right web site, they can go into their back end utilities and pull the
Lead Forms Tracking Report which will show how many times their customers are
starting a form, compared to how many actually completed the form and clicked on the
“Submit” button… We see many stores where over 90% of their web site forms are being
started, but the customer abandons them before they are finished and never submit the
form. By going through your forms editing application, and customizing your forms to
make them fun for the customer, while reflecting what they REALLY want to say, you
can double the volume of leads being produced by your web site next month.
Keep in mind, that the leads that come in from a dealer’s web site will typically close at
double the rate of leads from most 3rd Party buying services. So, when you can invest a
little time and training money on something that increases high closing ratio leads, the
return on investment becomes very appealing. More importantly, the ROTI (Return On
Time Invested) is even greater because you are increasing leads that close at a higher
ratio, which means you are spending less time on leads that don’t sell.
For examples of customized forms, especially “I’m Interested”, “2nd Chance Finance”,
“Insider Information Registration” and “Quick Quotes”, check out the following dealer
You can also use your forms creation and editing tool within your web site to create new
marketing campaigns that will help differentiate your dealership from the competition.
For example, at Jay Wolfe Acura we created the “Insider Information Account
Registration” form. It is accessible from within the “Information” drop-down menu on
their home page… The screen shot below is hyperlinked to the actual site:
The image of the form is shown below, and it is hyperlinked to the real form, so you can
get a closer look at the real thing. The “Insider Information Account Registration” form
opens up looking like this:
At the bottom of the form, there is a disclaimer and notice that states:
“Jay Wolfe Acura will provide registered accounts with periodic
information that may or may not have been cleared by Acura for release to
the public... By submitting this form, the registrant agrees to keep all
information provided confidential and will not share it with the news media
or any other parties who are not properly registered with the Jay Wolfe
"Insider Information" Program.”
We have found that making your online forms fun, using humor and the way customers
actually talk in their drop-downs and checklists, will get you an increased forms
completion rate… For example:
So far, nobody has chosen (except for me) the “Flyers placed under my windshield
wipers” or “Rumor Mill” option, but at least it shows the customer we have a sense of
Jay Wolfe Acura uses the email list generated by this form to supply an “Insider
Information” broadcast email that keeps their registered enthusiasts informed about
events and activities related to the Acura ownership experience.
Your dealership’s web site can be a key part of a Web Brand Management Strategy that
connects your customer’s lifestyle with products and services offered by you and your
co-workers. Many of the car companies are getting into “Customer Lifestyle
Management” because it is a proven concept that generates increased customer loyalty
and repeat business. Using your web site’s customization utilities, and a good CRM tool
with targeted email campaign capabilities, you can evolve your Internet Sales Department
into a Customer Relationship Center that will drive business to Sales, Parts and Service
while becoming a key contact point between customers and your dealership.
Happy selling, and when thinking about how you respond to leads, remember this:
“What you send the potential buyer is as important as when you send it”
CRM Process Consultant