Archive for May, 2009

Some exciting new online tools available to you from VIADA’s 3 websites!

Monday, May 18th, 2009

The designers and office at JTZ Enterprise have been hard at work on all three of Virginia Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s websites. I encourage everyone to take a minute getting familiar with each of these sites and find ways to put them to work for you and your business. Got an opinion? Share it with us, that is how we came up with some of these upgrades.

The newest website, www.MAPPVA.com was just finished and a lot of the input for the design came from the VIADA headquarters, even though the Better Business Bureau and the military were also involved in this project. There are two members specifically who should get credit for their efforts in getting this project not only off the ground but also for sticking with it to the end. Mike Duman of Mike Duman Auto Sales and Howard Kershaw of K’s Auto Center worked with others in the BBB and the military to formulate the Military Appreciation Purchase Program.

Completing the website I think was the easiest part of this project. Getting the three groups to agree on how a car transaction should take place would have seemed daunting to many but these two fellows did a good job in applying common sense and fairness for the buyer and the seller. I heard a rumor there is already talk of expanding this program to other bases along the East Coast. In short, this program requires a car dealer to be a VIADA member and a BBB member. They must also agree to carry out all transactions involving military personnel in a certain way. They must inform them of certain rights such as the ability to have the car checked by an independent mechanic and what the book value of the vehicle is at the time of purchase. In return, the military agrees to put those dealers registered for this program on a whitelist, or a list of dealerships they would encourage the young new recruits to buy their cars from. There have been rumors of a military blacklist but the opposite is now a reality. I can tell you the military is doing a great job so far of promoting this site because of the data available. The site was created in December but the plan was not finalized until March of 2009. At that time traffic to the site shot up almost 900%! Over 90% of this traffic is coming from what is called “Direct Address” meaning the viewer typed in the address to get to the site rather than click on a link. This means the military is getting the word out in fine fashion to those recruits and they are visiting the site. More important, the second most traveled page of this site is the one which lists all the participating dealers and their website links! The program is free to dealers as long as they are members of both VIADA and BBB. In Mr. Duman’s words, “It’s a no-brainer!”

www.VirginiaUsedCarDealers.com (VUCD) recently completed it’s second phase of updates, most of which centered around the Dealer Center area of the website. Phase one focused on the buyer’s experience. For those not familiar with VUCD, it is a site exclusive to VIADA members who want additional online exposure to their inventory and a stronger public affiliation with VIADA. It costs $35-$45 a month with no long term commitment. In return, you are able to upload your inventory along with complete descriptions and photos. If you have an F&I program like Chip Cooper’s Comsoft Money Maker or several other similar F&I programs in use in your dealership it is possible for that software to update your site for you automatically. If you enlist the services of John Walters of Dealer Specialties or other similar companies it is easy to get them to send us your inventory and photos for you. Regardless of how we get your inventory, it is then advertised on VUCD, a website which attracts car buyers in the Virginia area only.

Then, your inventory is automatically broadcasted to other websites that will advertise your cars and show your pictures to other car shoppers for free! These sites are numerous and they change often (free things are often worth what you pay…) but some of the more notable ones are Google, Oodle and others. If you advertise with Trader or Cars.com then you also get the added service of having your inventory sent to those companies as well. There are over 150 companies we send dealer data to every day. Newspapers and other advertisers are getting into online advertising and if someone wants to list your inventory on their site all you have to do is tell them to get your inventory from VUCD.

We also made some upgrades to the Craigslist tool. All these changes can be seen if you are using Internet Explorer for a browser (sorry you AOL and Firefox users). I have many dealers tell me this free website is the best thing working for them right now. Changes have been made to Craigslist which tell me it will not be a free service for long so every dealer should be getting the most out of this site while they can.

We then began gathering and storing leads which come in as a result of your website if it is hosted by JTZ Enterprise as well as those leads which come from VUCD. When you log in to the Dealer Center of VUCD you will see a brief report on your most recent inventory update. If you have outbound feeds for Trader and Cars.com and others you will get a list of when they are scheduled to go out. These two things were done so you could see right away what needs to be updated and when the update needs to get to us in time to reach those other online advertisers. We have gotten many favorable comments and encourage you to share yours with us.

We are storing those leads for you and will even allow you to retrieve them for the last 30 or 60 days. In the future this will lead to a new service we will offer which will allow you to utilize mass email campaigns at an affordable cost.

www.VIADA.org is the flagship site for VIADA. Unfortunately, I have run out of time! Many of the changes occurring to this site are still being worked on but I can tell you we will soon implement a members only blog! Stay tuned and keep logging in to VIADA.org to chart our progress.

JTZ Enterprise takes great pride in hosting VIADA’s three websites and we thank you for choosing JTZ Enterprise.