Archive for the ‘Car Dealer Websites’ Category

Is Cyber Monday Passé?

Friday, November 28th, 2014
Cyber Monday is circa 1962. Mobile Monday is so 2009. Ready your dealership for 2015!

Cyber MondayUnless you live under a rock, you know about Cyber Monday. It’s about being cyber, on a Monday. About catching deals online by shopping on Monday. But not just any Monday. The Monday after Thanksgiving, that is followed by Small Business Saturday, that follows Black Friday. It’s one of the few nationally recognized days not yet with it’s own greeting card (another marketing genius..but let’s get back on topic).

You are to shop. And shop…until you drop. Shop only online. Shop at your computer in the comforts of your own home or local coffee shop. Shop deals for gifting and deals to give yourself. Deals that you (more…)

Website Feature: JC Lewis Ford

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 3.30.30 PM.png

A positive development process and partnership is a winning combination!

When I was assigned the JC Lewis Ford Savannah and JC Lewis Ford Lincoln Statesboro sites, my first thought was – nothing spectacular.

It started out as any other website I’ve developed here at DealerFire; just another couple of websites added to my lineup. But that quickly changed. Our introduction call went well and was a foreshadowing to an exceptionally positive development process for both the dealership and for me.

A two-time winner* and 2015 nominee for the TIME Dealer of the Year Award as well as recipient of Ford’s 100-Year Award, I learned that JC Lewis Ford (more…)

3 Reasons to Go Responsive

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Do you need a responsive website?  


Yes, yes you do – and here are three reasons why:


1.  We aren’t going back in time.

Since the advent of the World Wide Web, most monitors were a fairly standard screen size and a site could be developed to allow for easy navigation for nearly all users. On June 29, 2007 came the iPhone – the device that changed it all and started this revolution. (more…)

Selling Cars – Still a Priority?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 2.47.46 PMFlashback: Growing up, I was always around cars. I find peace around cars, have always had an interest in cars even before girls.

The point to this flashback is, I believe passion sets the great salesman apart from the salesman that struggles to make numbers each month. However, some will argue that a great car salesman doesn’t have to be passionate about cars at all. Some would say a good work ethic and ability to be good with people is the only requirement.  One thing is for sure, if you are not following up with your leads, you aren’t selling anything.

I grew up with my father teaching me a strong work ethic and independency that I am grateful for to this day. As soon as I was able and upon his urging, I gained a work permit and began summer employment at a Fortune 500 retailer while the rest of my friends planted themselves at the community pool.

This company taught me to call shoppers “guests” instead of “customers.” It was a different way of thinking back then, but is in line with exactly how it should be. People on your lot, on your website or in your showroom should not only be called guests,  but also valued as guests; as if they were guests in your home and not only your dealership, you should be fulfilling their wants and needs.

Fast Forward: Now fast forward, I combined my retail experience and my life interest and turned to…CARS! I brought youth, high energy, a need to succeed to the dealership. I went to work early to make coffee and stock the fridges with beverages for guests and most importantly, called or emailed website leads from the night before.

I asked an older, cowboy boot wearing salesman I looked up to, “Why don’t the other guys fight to call these website leads each morning?” I’ll never forget his reply. He told me, “If you have the energy to entertain those tire-kickers instead of selling cars, then go ahead.”

Soon after doing my morning routine, I found myself moving up the whiteboard grid on my sales manager’s office wall and other salesmen noticed more and more guests come into the showroom asking for me from conversations that all started from website leads.

Today: Now, years later, you can’t ignore an internet lead. If you are in a dealership and get first-party leads directly from your own site or your paying to get your leads from third-party vendors, it’s honestly the new “name of the game” to selling cars!

And we all know that the first-party leads that come right from your own website have a higher chance of closing and are easier to close, but the point is that they are ALL important, right?

I pose this question based on my own recent experience that have me pondering if Internet Sales Managers, General Managers and even Dealer Principals know what’s going on in their own dealerships.

It started when I  began my hunt for a new vehicle. Still being in the auto industry, I knew exactly what I wanted out of my next new car, but needed to find the dealership who had it on their lot. Finding new, used and Certified Pre-Owned versions of the perfect vehicle wasn’t hard, so I narrowed it down to price and submitted my personal information through the website, willingly giving my email, cell and work phone numbers.

Each morning I would check my email inbox and spam folder (just in case) and look for voicemails or missed calls, but was let down. I moved on and submitted a new lead to the next dealership, providing my email, cell and work number once again. The cycle repeated itself and I found it to be more effort on my part than that of the dealer. I was shocked to realize that dealers throw money to lead providers, hire people at dealership level for the sole purpose of gaining leads and invest in lead converting websites to have me  on their doorsteps knocking waiting for no answer.

What Happened Next: In three weeks, I submitted eight leads to eight different dealerships of which one emailed me back to let me know that they were sold out of 2014s and 2015 models would arrive in late July; however, never asking further interest questions nor any effort in inviting me to the lot for a different option.

I did have two automotive CRM auto-responders send the generic “Thank you for your interest, a sales rep will be contacting you shortly.” But the contact never happened.

Only one dealership actually called and emailed me and asked to learn more about me, invite me into the showroom to drive the vehicle and and follow up to answer questions I might have.


  1. Four dealerships never did anything with my lead information
  2. Two dealerships that failed to follow up on a CRM auto response
  3. One dealership that didn’t care to sell me anything
  4. One (and only one!) dealership that did it right.

After this personal experience, I thought about the automotive industry and all of those in it who talk and write books on this very subject and then remembered a quote from the great, Zig Ziglar who said “Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” I think that quote fits this perfectly to what is going on here.

Not only is this a training opportunity, but wouldn’t you call this a profit leak? I knew what I wanted, what I could afford and was willing to give someone my business, but I was the one putting in all the work. To me, any incoming lead, sounds like an easy conversion and an easy payday, so why wasn’t selling me, the guest, a car made a priority?

The Solution: So how do we fix this? If you’re an internet sales manager, a new car manager, used car manager, general manager, vice-president, part owner or dealer principal, you need to be aware of how your leads are handled in your own dealership!

Ask yourself things like:

  • Is my team calling leads?
  • Do they introduce themselves and the dealership?
  • Are my salesmen using my marketing dollars to convert online traffic into car sales?

One way to gain answers and accountabiility is by digging into your CRM and read the notes, assuming those notes are transparent and entered correctly.

The best way, however – the most honest way to answer your concerns and to gauge if this is a profit leak for your dealership – is to test it. Create an email address set-up via MSN, Google, Yahoo or another and submit a lead and grade the response, if any, in terms of your own key performance indicators for time, friendliness, quality and thoroughness.

Takeaways: By treating your shoppers as guests, understand they have needs and wants and by having a team on the other end of that lead ready and willing to follow up with any guest who takes the time to share their contact information, you can then plug this profit leak, make many more contacts, build or repair the dealership’s reputation and most importantly – MOVE MORE UNITS!

Written by Eric Bolster, Regional Sales Manager

Written by Eric Bolster,                  Regional Sales Manager


A Word on DNS from the IT Experts

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

DealerFire DNS

Confused about DNS? Leave it to the experts!

As an IT professional, and when you are dealing with the Internet and regarding where website, email and other services are pointing, you have to understand something called DNS (Domain Name Service).

To make a long story short, the DNS translates Internet domain and host names to IP addresses.  DNS automatically converting the names we type in our Web browser address bar to the IP addresses of Web servers hosting those sites.

Here at DealerFire, we are making changes to DNS for clients and making sure the pointers are correct on a daily basis.  This is typically only needed when provider of services (host) change, but it becomes critical to act swiftly when they do.

Normally, these changes are done at the top level, at the Name Servers.  This is where DNS is managed for a domain.  Once you make the appropriate changes, propagation immediately takes place across the internet and the changes are visible to the world.  Now, in rare cases, we have had clients report that even several days after the DNS changes were made, everyone in the world can see the changes and their brand new automotive website, except for those within their own dealership.

Here’s what we do…

We contact the client and have them perform a few tests called ‘lookups’ to determine how DNS is resolved. In essence, finding what mechanism at the dealership is causing them not to pick up on the recent top level changes. After completing this process, the conclusion is invariably that they have their own local DNS server at the dealership with static entries answering to requests from local user’s computers, thus giving outdated information.  We find this is the outcome in all cases.

At this point we suggest two solutions:

  1. Give the client correct IP addresses for website(s) and other services so they can manually edit their local DNS.
  2. Ask that they re-configure using DNS at top level (sometimes not always possible due to how their internal network is configured).

Either way, the resolution to this issue is always 100% the same and successful.

So when it comes to DNS and having any questions or concerns with its workings, leave it to us – the IT experts at DealerFire!

Written by Per A. Wihlborg, Systems Admin

Written by Per A. Wihlborg,          Systems Admin at DealerFire


Harbin Automotive catches the March Madness bug!

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
Harbin Automotive Bracket Prediction Challenge

Harbin Automotive Bracket Prediction Challenge

Harbin Automotive Group, a dealer of new and used Chevrolet and Ford vehicles in Scottsboro, Alabama, catches the March Madness bug as they join DealerFire and others getting in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament action.

With a chance to win a whopping $1,000,000 (yep…count the zeros, that’s one million dollars!), Harbin announces it’s Bracket Prediction Challenge. Registration is free. More information can be found HERE.

Tom Vosen, General Manager at Harbin Automotive, shared details about the contest in an interview with CBT News, highlighting the Group’s focus on internet traffic to their website, Vosen estimates 7,000 visitors to their website each month, converting to approximately 30 vehicle sales directly from their site. Their success due, in part, by their ability to draw car buyers from larger metro areas surrounding Scottsboro throughout a 300 mile radius. They accomplish this with an aggressive digital marketing and website strategy and an in-house Internet and BDC staff.

Shannon Hammons, Harbin’s Digital Director and a huge Alabama basketball fan, is credited for coming up with the Bracket Challenge as a way to increase awareness of their online store.  They are looking for a banner year in 2014 and this might be the ticket to their continued success!

Don’t forget to register for our own Fight for a Site for a chance at a free responsive website for a year. March Madness is spreading – catch it today!


Bowen Buys a Dart (of the Dodge kind, that is!)

Monday, December 30th, 2013
Bowen takes delivery of his 2013 Dodge Dart from Bob Zeihen, salesman at Palmen Automotive

Bowen Hobbs, Support Designer at DealerFire, is not only an invaluable part of our team, but also a recent car buyer. And so when it came time to shop for that perfect vehicle, he did what most automotive consumers did – he took his search online to find the Dodge Dart of his dreams.

What to his wondering eyes should appear? No, not eight tiny reindeer, but a 2013 Dart Rallye looking particularly merry and bright decked out in striking header orange and blacked out grille and rims. This little gem was found on Palmen Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Racine, a DealerFire website and favorite customer. (more…)

Exceptional Online Growth for Loeber Motors

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 3.33.48 PM

Why DealerFire: A Car Dealer Testimonial

Our sales and support leaders checked in with Joe Hill, eCommerce/Internet Director at Loeber Motors, during a recent visit to the dealership. In the car business for over twenty years, Hill has spent the last eight months at Loeber in Lincolnwood, Illinois and has been a valued custom website and digital marketing client with DealerFire since July, 2013.  His experience and commitment to a strong partnership is evident in the success of Loeber’s online performance.

After looking at several other website and digital marketing vendors, it seemed like efforts in chasing after a goal of 5,000 visitors per month to his previous website was falling flat.  Since switching to DealerFire, Hill said, “We are now doing about four times the amount of traffic for essentially the same amount of money.”  That traffic has translated to approximately 40% growth in overall sales for the dealership from July-December with an expected increase to 30-35% on new vehicles sold plus roughly the same amount on pre-owned.


Feeling Empowered with Automotive SEO!

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

We caught up with the Mac Haik Auto Group at the 15th Digital Dealer Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, NV, to talk about their experience with DealerFire over their  last seven months as a customer when “feeling empowered” came into the conversation. From an increase in website traffic to an improved quality score for Google Adwords through relevant pages and content marketing, the results speak for themselves.

But don’t take our word for it!

Ben Stapleton, Internet Marketing Director at Mac Haik Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in Georgetown, TX, tells us more:

Why DealerFire: Auto Dealer SEO Testimonial from Mac Haik Auto Group from DealerFire on Vimeo.

When asked to comment on his customer’s testimonial, Eric Giroux, DealerFire Account Manager, said, “Successful sites like Mac Haik’s take two to tango. Ben is a very active Internet Manager who has helped us push the envelope to create an industry-leading site like his. I’m stoked to see that he is satisfied with both our product and our service and I’m really looking forward to serving more of the Mac Haik stores!”


Introducing Our Fully Responsive Automotive Websites!

Friday, October 11th, 2013

New responsive website design features industry-first capability including fully redesigned inventory layouts and vehicle detail pages.  WOAH!

DealerFire Responsive Websites from DealerFire on Vimeo.

The number of users that are doing their online research on a mobile device increases every year. Naturally, this is true in the automotive industry as well. But as search evolves, it seems many car dealerships remain stagnant with their online presence. With the release of its first responsive design website, DealerFire is now offering a way for dealerships to break free from the traditional car dealer website experience.The advantages of having a responsive website are many. On the consumer side, a responsive site means that it offers the same experience whether on a traditional desktop computer, laptop, tablet or even mobile phone. The site actually responds to display properly in whatever setting it is called up in.