Archive for July, 2005

Is your website inventory up to date?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Many car dealers have websites that not only advertise their business but also list their inventory with complete descriptions, prices and photos. This is important because the inventory page of your site is the second most visited page behind only the Home page. No matter how the car buyer finds your site, whether through search engines, third party link exchange sites such as VirginiaUsedCarDealers.com or from your business card, they are visiting your site because they are in the market to buy a pre-owned vehicle. They go straight to this page to see what you have in stock and that is why it is essential for every dealer to consistently update their online inventory.

All dealers fall into one of two categories; those that hire outside help to manage it for them and those that manage their online inventory themselves. Many of those dealers in the first group have enlisted the help of a company called Dealer Specialties. This is a nationwide company that takes a lot of work off the hands of dealerships, franchise and independents alike. There are other companies like this one but this is the best one that I have seen because they take care of several things for the car dealer once a vehicle is brought into stock.

On a weekly basis a Dealer Specialties representative will come to your dealership and begin with taking pictures of and getting the VIN numbers to all new vehicles in stock. They get a complete description of each car or truck and use it to create a window sticker and Buyer’s Guide that they put in the window of each vehicle. They then upload all that data as well as the photos to a page in your website for you. If you have an account with other third party link exchange sites they will also send that data to those sites. Our clients that use Dealer Specialties appreciate this service because it frees them and their staff up of many responsibilities allowing them to focus on selling cars. This service has a monthly fee as well as a charge for each vehicle that is worth it when you consider it ensures all vehicles have a Buyer’s Guide and the website is always up to date.

Those dealers that manage their own inventory online do so in a number of ways. Some F&I software packages now have export features that allow you to update your inventory as you enter the vehicles into stock. Other dealers log into their site to add and delete cars as they come and go. VIADA recently teamed up with a company that helps these dealers not only manage their online inventory but also produce quality, custom window stickers and Buyer’s Guides. This company is Trans World Data Incorporated and they are located in Wisconsin. They offer a free software program called Vehicle Details Window Stickers. This software package has the strongest VIN decoder I have ever seen. It simplifies the management of your website and enhances the online inventory listings for dealerships all across the nation. It comes with free updates about every quarter and includes the data of all vehicle models from 1991 to 2006.

All the dealer has to do is enter the VIN and this software will provide the year, make and model. It also lists all the equipment the vehicle has and provides data such as wheelbase, height and even City and Highway fuel mileage, information that until now was only available on a new car lot. This software package goes the extra mile by compiling all positive vehicle reviews about each make and model from publications such as Car and Driver Magazine, Edmunds, Auto Digest and others. All of this data is put into a custom Window Sticker that includes your dealership logo and contact information and is printed off your printer. The only cost for this program is for the stickers themselves. The price for the stickers is between $1.39 and $2.39, depending on how many you order at one time. The FTC sticker is optional and costs 37¢ each. VIADA will be offering this program to members at a discount for additional savings.

The program does not stop there. If you have accounts with other sites like VirginiaUsedCarDealers.com, Trader Online, Cars.com, Autobytel and about 20 other sites, you can use this software package to manage your inventory at any or all of these other sites with just one click. JTZ Enterprise has even developed a software package that enables our clients to update their own websites with just one click. It will also allow you to print inventory lists, brochures on individual vehicles for interested customers to take home, and information sheets that can be presented to banks and lending institutes wanting vehicle data for loan approval purposes. It even helps with photo management.

No matter if you manage your online inventory in house or hire others to do it for you, the most important thing is to be sure that it gets done. If your site is not updated regularly it will hurt your site’s ranking with search engines and your customers will notice it is out of date. Advertising laws also require you to remove sold units so if you need advise on how to better manage your website’s inventory page call us, we can help.