You would have to live on Mars to not know how tumultuous 2009 was for the automotive industry. We could recant what happened to the big 3, we could review what happened to our credit and floorplan sources, we could speculate what might be thrown at us next, but what good will that do? Another question might be, “What did we get done right in 2009?” Sometimes focusing on our accomplishments rather than drowning in our shortcomings is all it takes to help clarify the path we must take forward.
The year started with a financial crunch to the Association and in April’s board meeting they elected to suspend the pay per click campaign VIADA had for its retail website, www.VirginiaUsedCarDealers.com (VUCD) and divert those funds to the Association directly. However, even though we stopped this form of advertising for now, the traffic to the site has since increased by over 20% and continues to grow in overall site viewers, unique visitors and page visits.
VUCD also added a new service at the first of 2009 with the Craigslist/Ebay listing tool. This feature will use the information about your listings to create a description page in HTML code which can be copied and pasted into other sites like craigslist to create listings that look as nice as those you see new car dealers using. The listings automatically include your dealer information, link to your website and your company logo. Not for the feint of heart as you have to know what copy and paste mean and not be afraid of HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language).
Later in the year, after many dealers came to us saying they either did not have the time or ability to post regularly on Craigslist but wanted to have their listings on the site, JTZ Enterprise began offering the service of posting your listings, 25 at a time, every week for only $100 a month. Whether you do it or you have someone do it there are some things to know about Craigslist. It is a social media site trying to dispel all retail. It is policed by its own users and therefore finicky at times. You cannot double post the same listing. Some dealers who specialize in few makes find it hard to list more than one of the same Make and Model without the site flagging it as a duplicate and removing the listing even though they are two different vehicles, maybe even different years. Another note, all listings automatically expire and therefore require someone to constantly re-list the vehicles on a regular basis. Some say it is a lot of work. More tell us it is the best thing working for them right now.
It was actually late in 2008 we got started with www.MAPPVA.com but it was not until the plan actually kicked off we began to see the results. This website represents the partnership between VIADA, the Better Business Bureau and the Military to provide “outstanding quality, sales, service, and education to service members in their vehicle purchasing efforts”. The statistics for this site show the military and the BBB have done an outstanding job of doing their part to make this program known to all the Hampton Roads military personnel. If you are not signed up for this program and do business in the Tidewater area, you should sign up today. It is free as long as you are a member of both VIADA and BBB and adhere to the terms and agreements of the Military Appreciation Purchase Program.
About the middle of the year, JTZ Enterprise and VIADA began working on a complete makeover of www.VIADA.org. In keeping with the image VIADA has made and wants to brand itself with, we unveiled the new design in July. The site’s security certificate was upgraded, the shopping cart pages for forms orders were updated and the events information became more readily accessible from the home page. The newest feature added to the site is the VIADA Blog. This area of the site is how the staff members of VIADA are able to more quickly get out the important pieces of information you as a dealer need to know. Check out the Blog area by visiting the site and clicking on the word blog in the top right corner of the page.
Back to VUCD, it was about this same time we began tightening up the search results the public gets when doing their research at the site. A simple VIN decoder was also added to assist those dealers who enter their listings manually. It will retrieve the Year, Make and Model of the VIN for most vehicles 1983 and newer. It often requires you to select which engine or transmission matches your vehicle and will then come up with the EPA City and Highway ratings once you do.
In May, the page a dealer gets once they successfully log into VUCD began displaying the three most recent leads your dealership got from VUCD. If your dealership’s website is hosted by JTZ Enterprise you would also get a list of those leads recently received via your website. Both lists also had links to those listings received in the last thirty or 60 days or all listings. This then grew into another service we offer some dealers that basically tracks and saves leads from all other online advertisers you may have. The Customer Relations Management tool is simple to use in tracking leads from a multitude of sources.
I have heard it said the mechanic’s car is sometimes the last to get any service. Especially if he is a busy mechanic! When VIADA’s site got a makeover we felt it was time we spruce up our own site. www.JTZEnterprise.com got its own face-lift late in the summer. One thing worth noting on this is the site now has a copy of all The Internet Corner articles in our blog area and can be reviewed anytime by visiting our site and clicking on the JTZ Blog button in the top right corner.
Late in the year, JTZ Enterprise grew some when we purchased a competitor who wanted to retire. On December 7, 2009 the merger between JTZ Enterprise and Witt & Lowery, Inc. was complete. None of the clients involved were auto industry related so it broadened our universe in a few ways and we look forward to servicing all our clients through out 2010. If either VIADA or JTZ Enterprise can help you sell more cars this year, please call or e-mail me. We are here to help.