How does a smaller independent dealer compete with the Goliaths of the marketplace? According to Josh Demars, the Internet levels the playing field. Over three-quarters of his customers come to his dealership based off exposure to his inventory online, where he advertises on select third-party sites, including Autotrader.com and KBB.com. Family Car Factory also has a dealership website, managed through a vendor, where inventory is listed.
Price and customer experience are top of mind when Demar’s talks about his dealership strategy: “I don’t have to capitalize and make $3–4K a car because I am turning inventory quickly. It allows me to be more transparent to customers and truly help them. If I can do that and still make a living, then I can enjoy life and what I do,” he says.
Choosing to advertise with Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book was an easy decision for Demars. He had prior experience working with Autotrader and, when he opened Family Car Factory, he already recognized the benefit of listing his cars online. Demars’ reason for partnering with Autotrader was simple: “It’s cost-effective and gets my inventory in front of real customers. Being able to be competitive with larger dealerships makes all the sense in the world in this “day and age.”
Demars went live on Autotrader.com and KBB.com in November 2015 with a smaller package of Spotlight Ads (high-exposure ads that appear at the top of a Search Results Page, or SRP, for a limited time) to highlight key inventory. After seeing an immediate impact in activity, he upgraded to a Premium package that is specifically designed — and priced — for smaller independent dealerships. This tailor-made package provides classified listings with optimum placement on the SRP, as well as additional Spotlight Ads, to maximize his advertising exposure. The exposure Family Car Factory’s inventory receives from this placement gives Demars access to ready-to-buy shoppers and is a key factor in being able to compete with any dealer of any size. As Demars states, “I’m on a nice, busy road but my lot isn’t set up for road traffic. The Internet is where I get 75% of my business.”
Demars has had so much success getting his inventory in front of in-market shoppers that his biggest challenge to date is maintaining inventory. Demars averages a 42-day turn and says it’s a never-ending cycle to keep his inventory numbers up: “It seems like I get up to 25, and then I’m back down into the mid-to-low teens. Then I scramble and re-stock, and by the time I get it built back up again, it goes right back out. It’s just an ongoing cycle.”
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