“We all have blue Chevrolets,” said David Johnson, General Manager of Byers Automotive Group. “The experience we show online is what gets [customers] in the door.”

Nick Hummer, Cars.com Director of New Car Strategy started day two of Digital Dealer 14 with a panel of dealers discussing their keys to success in the new car space. Along with David and Nick, Ricky Lopez of Greenway Dodge, Chris Slaydon of Vernon Automotive Group and Ryan Esler of Matick Chevrolet took the stage to share the best practices they’ve implemented to drive more new-car sales.

dealer panel dd14
Nick Hummer, Chris Slaydon, Ricky Lopez, David Johnson and Ryan Esler

Consistent Brand

Throughout the discussion, panelists stressed the importance of establishing a consistent brand and promoting it to customers throughout the shopping process to stand out from the competition.

“Customers have a ton of sources to pull from, so we have to make sure they’re consistent, and that takes time and effort,” stated Esler. “We use the same exact assets, colors, and logos across all platforms, which speaks to consistency and trust.”

Valuable Merchandising

“If you’re not taking photos of your new car inventory, you might as well just leave right now,” joked Slaydon, referencing the importance of quality new-car merchandising.

Though the panel acknowledged that each dealership needs to find the right process to help them showcase their new-car inventory, the overarching message was clear – providing customers the information they’re looking for has a direct effect on the bottom line.

“It’s awesome when a customer comes to you and buys from you because he or she went to three other dealership websites and didn’t see [photos of] the color they were looking for, then they buy from you because they saw the actual vehicle,” said Lopez. “I agree with these guys, if you don’t have any new car pictures, you’re losing a lot of business.”

Aligned Customer Service

Ryan and David DD14

“You need to look at what your BDC or internet sales team is emailing out to customers,” stressed Esler. “It’s about answering the questions that come to you.”

Esler also touched on the importance of consistent information between sales consultants, online channels and on the lot.

“If [you] go see something that’s related to my dealership, and it’s not the same as I just told you, that’s a break down that’s pretty serious.”

When interacting with new car prospects, transparently providing information and providing a customer experience that matches your store’s brand is key to success.

“If what we’ve done online through email, website and text doesn’t get met at the door, it blows the whole thing up,” Slaydon added.

Quality Online Reputation

Panelists agreed that having a strong online reputation is a must in the new-car market, and each of them stressed how promoting what others have said can sometimes be more powerful than what dealers say on their own.

In reference to negative reviews, Johnson reinforced, “They’re not negative reviews; they’re opportunities,” citing how his store uses critical feedback to remedy individual customer issues and improve processes.

Slaydon went on to share his store’s process for engaging with individuals who leave online feedback about his store.

“We not only to respond reviews on Cars.com, DealerRater or anywhere else that someone leaves a positive or negative comment,” said Slaydon. “We call and talk to them to thank them. It’s something that’s benefited us in the long run,” indicating that consistent follow up leads to repeat business and strengthened relationships.

With the new car sales forecast to increase by over a million units in 2013, there’s never been a better time to tailor your experience to the new car shopper.

What was your biggest takeaway from #DD14? Let us know in comments below!


Greenway Dodge scores big with online reviews

Have you met the ‘New’ new car shopper

Jack Simmons presents at #DD14