I attended the VIADA Board meeting in January at the Crown Plaza in Richmond. Gail Davis of www.DavisAutoSales.com, Chairman of the Board for the Professional Development Committee, asked me to work with Howard Kershaw of K’s Auto Center in Hampton, VA on an idea he has for increasing awareness of both VIADA and its websites.
Howard’s plan involves attracting more car buyers to www.VAUsedCarDealers.com, (VUCD), accomplishing two things. First, it would obviously make VIADA more recognizable to the car buying public by being “introduced” to the buyer during the shopping process. Second, it would increase the benefit level of VUCD, a Member benefit exclusive to VIADA members.
During my Board presentation, I remarked on how this website puts the Association in a position similar to what an auction would find themselves in. When an auction opens, their main focus might be to attract wholesalers and build up the number of sellers. However, they cannot focus on only one side. They may have all the cars in the world to sell but if there aren’t any buyers in the lane, nothing is gained. A successful auction has to attract a quality group of both buyers and sellers in order to succeed. VUCD is much the same because while Mr. Kershaw’s plan is focused on attracting the buyers, it is still necessary to attract more of those sellers out there, and that means YOU!
All VIADA members get a free listing from the Find a Dealer page on the site. This is where car buyers search for VIADA dealers by zip code. This page alone was accessed almost 8,000 times in 2007 displaying a member’s contact information, including web and email address links if VIADA has them on file, over 60,000 times. For those members who sign up for the association’s Internet Advertising package, the benefits get even better. For only $35 a month (to avoid monthly credit card charges a member may pay for 5 months and get the sixth month free) each member can list their inventory on VUCD gaining additional exposure from the site’s most visited part, those pages allowing the car shoppers to search our inventory listings. For $3 more a month you can bold your listings and $2 a month you can highlight them in a color of your choice. This is done to make your links and listings stand out.
Also available to VIADA members participating in VUCD is access to the Wholesale Listings page. These members can log in to VUCD with their user name and password and click on wholesale listings to get hundreds of cars for sale by other VIADA members. Members can list their own listings on this page with wholesale prices. We have many members taking advantage of this benefit today.
Also included in this “ridiculously low cost” (quote from Mike at Mike Duman Auto Sales in Suffolk, VA) is the data feed service, exclusively for VUCD participating dealers. We have consolidated all the work involved with managing inventory listings and photos at multiple online advertisers in to one site. Meaning, once you get your inventory on VUCD, that site will then broadcast your listings and photos to over 70 other online advertisers you may be doing business with now. For instance, a typical dealer today has a website of their own as well as an advertising campaign with Cars.com and/or AutoExtra.com. This means the dealer has to get the inventory listed on all three sites. In the past, you would have to log into your site, update your inventory and log out. Then you would have to do the same thing at the Cars.com site and every other site on which you advertise. Not only was this time consuming but also made it harder to keep your advertising consistent. You might put one price on your site and unknowingly put a different price, or even a different description on a third party site. This did not go unnoticed to the savvy Internet shopper and it may have unknowingly brought your credibility into question. Many members now have their listings sent to all their online advertisers automatically, every day, saving time and money. We send data every day to over 70 other website advertisers. There are even a handful of third party sites that will advertise your listings on their site for free.
If you already have a company providing this service, great! VUCD has made connections with all of these companies like Dealer Specialties, Cherry Auto and others. These companies will come out to gather all the vehicle data and photos and get them online for you. If you are a dealer using one of these companies, you can request for them to send your inventory to VIADA’s website and get your listings online today.
I am going to let Mr. Kershaw and Chairman Davis work on attracting more buyers. When they succeed, they further promote VIADA and its values to the car buying public. Added public awareness about VIADA equates to added value in being a member. In an effort to show off what the site can do for you, here are some average returns for the dealers participating in www.VAUsedCarDealers.com. These stats are an example of a typical VIADA member advertising on VUCD during the month of December 2007.
The average dealership had 42 cars in stock. Those listings were displayed in search results a total of 5,250 times in December and clicked on (meaning your listing was chosen out of all similar listings) almost 1,300 times. The dealer had 20 people click to see an entire listing of only this dealership’s inventory and 85 times someone clicked on the link leading to this dealership’s very own website, leaving all the competitors’ listings behind. Thirty times that month a shopper clicked on an email link or asked for the dealership’s contact information.
All this exposure to your inventory, along with access to the wholesale listings and the ability to get your inventory updated at all the third party sites you advertise with, all for only $35 a month AND it is exclusively to only VIADA members. It is a Win, Win, Win situation. The shopper wins by gaining more knowledge about our association and added comfort in making an informed decision. The participating member wins with affordable Internet exposure and inventory management tools available to them at VUCD. The association wins a number of ways. First, we have already had dealers sign up to be VIADA members in order to utilize VUCD. This added member benefit would continue to attract and retain members. Second, a portion of the revenues from this service is returned to the association allowing them to better service their member base.
If I said I could better display your vehicles, ten of thousands of times this year resulting in thousands of leads back to your very own site and hopefully resulting in added sales all for less than a dollar a day, the only reason you would not sign up is if you are already selling too many cars. For those of you not already utilizing this member benefit, call JTZ Enterprise or VIADA today. All first time participating members get one month free. Once you see the results, you will join the almost 10% of the VIADA members already benefiting from www.VAUsedCarDealers.com.