CommentaryMar 13th, 2013

How to Personalize your Dealer Website and Gain a Competitive Advantage


With social networking at the forefront of society, people have become accustomed to receiving information instantly. Everything from status updates, tweets, and instant applications allow us to stay informed about who is checking in and from where, view pictures of people’s loved ones, and be kept abreast of news from around the globe. In such a fast paced world, local businesses have been forced to adjust their marketing techniques and selling strategies and the auto industry is no exception.

Car Shopping Online

When shopping for their next automobile, many customers use the internet as their main tool. In fact, according to the 2012 J.D. Power Automotive Buyers Study published in October, 79 percent of new vehicle buyers use the internet to research their purchases. The web allows customers to compare virtually every available vehicle within their local communities and surrounding states. So, when a customer finally arrives at a dealership, they likely already know which vehicle they want to buy, have obtained its history report, and are aware of all of the features. Auto dealers have strengthened their focus within their internet departments in order to accommodate this growing group of consumers.

I have always enjoyed working in the auto industry. Purchasing a vehicle is an emotional process for consumers and often marks a turning point in an individual’s life. They are shopping for a vehicle, because a baby is on the way; they just graduated from college; they just obtained a new job; or perhaps their current model has been to so many places they are simply ready for an upgrade. Whatever the situation, buying a car is a very personal transaction and the shopping experience should be tailored to the customer’s shopping style. I was recently introduced to online chat from Contact At Once! This feature added to our homepage allows me to directly communicate with my customers in very personal ways and embark on their journey with them. By the time my customers arrive at my dealership they already know me and I know them. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to have my customer extend their hand upon arrival and say “Hello Joy, nice to finally meet you.”

Connect with Customers

Another way we connect with our customers is through video email. Using a video-messaging tool, I create and receive video messages and may be accessed from any browser, on any platform. When I first used the program I was amazed at how easy it was to navigate. Because of live chat and video email I was suddenly able to communicate with my internet consumers immediately and send them a personal video message regarding the vehicle they were exploring on the dealership website. I was also able to record live walk-arounds of the vehicle and personally address any questions the customer had.

The consumer feedback to our dealership’s tech-savvy personalization was instant! Customers were blown away that I was able to chat with them online or immediately respond to them personally through video. These tools help make their shopping experience far less intimidating. By offering the customer different ways to connect, they feel welcomed and know that I’m not only familiar with their name and what they needed from their next vehicle, but that I’m here to help.

Joy Fulford manages the Business Development Center at Tallahassee Dodge Chrysler Jeep where she has successfully grown internet sales over last five years. Joy is a Tallahassee native with strong ties to her community, heavily involved in organizations such as the Tallahassee Chamber, Capital City YMCA, Network of Young Professionals, and the Dream Center of Tampa, to name a few.

Authored by

Michael Bowen

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