Where has my showroom traffic gone?

More and more dealers are looking for ways to increase traffic into their showrooms.I’m told on a regular basis that walk-in traffic continues to decrease while the sales of automobiles are on the rise. How can this be? Five years ago, a consumer who was interested in researching a particular vehicle was for the most part, encouraged to visit a dealership to either pick up a brochure or speak to a sales representative. This gave the sales rep an opportunity to create a relationship with each potential customer. However, with the increase in popularity of the internet, potential customers now have the added bonus of being able to do their research online from the comfort of their home. Now when a customer visits your showroom, they are much more informed and might have narrowed their search criteria in advance.The above example is only one of many scenarios that are occurring in most dealerships today.

The question is, how do I connect with my customers in the early stages of the sales cycle? The answer is surprisingly simple, the internet.It is very surprising to still hear how much advertising is being spent in newspaper and print yet so many indicators point to the internet as the fastest growing source for information. With potential customers spending so many hours on the internet each week, why do dealers continue to allocate such a large percentage of their advertising budget to print?

I believe the answer lies in how the two media operate. Typically, a dealer has a dedicated representative for each news publication that meets with the dealer to review their accounts and strategies, where the three larger advertising sources on the web, Google, Yahoo and MSN rely on the end user to do the work. Even though it is more challenging to advertise with these sources, the rewards can be extremely fruitful. For example, when you advertise with Google your ad is only seen by your target market thus increasing your conversions and maximizing your ROI. Dealers will need to become familiar with the term search engine marketing and its affects on the automotive landscape. We will talk more about Search Engine Optimization in the weeks to come.