Our metrics have dropped the past three months in row across the board. Dealer sites are slow same with 3rd party vendors. The owner called me in and wanted to figure out why so I shared with him that a lot of it has to do with the time of year, inventory cut backs, and marketing funds being cut back. He asked me to think of new ideas that will get us back on track so I suggested we add SEM to our dealer sites since our entire market is on some sort of paid search.

He looked at me like I was crazy and said no I'm not spending more money! Find a way to make it work without spending anymore. I told him we are spending quite a bit of money on a 3rd party vendor that has only generated 17 Chevy leads in 5 months and cost right around 1800 per month so lets stop wasting the money and move it towards SEM. He again was upset saying we need to find ways to get things back on track without spending more money or changing anything.

My question is this if I already have the Google plus, yelp, Facebook, email blasts, pricing specials, 100% pictures, 100% descriptions, 100% new car specials, lead tracking, follow up, and everything else is done what the can I do without increasing the spend or making changes to the current budget?

I really don't have any ideas and my boss doesn't either. I'm stuck and need some help!

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Anyone? If you feel the same as I do and don't know please say that. I'm trying to show the owner we already have the structure but won't move in another direction unless some changes are made with existing vendors or increased budgets. Thanks everyone!

if you are not allowed to spend any money or make any changes try calling all your vendors and let them know they are all on the bubble. Find out what they are doing every week to help you increase sales, and be on them every week!

As far as the 3rd party leads source, contact  them everyday and tell them to make some tweaks to their program( Change up zip codes, Income filters ect...  and let them know they have to get you better leads, and they're 1st on the chopping block!

Lastly, get a list of owners from 2011 to 2012 and hammer the phones, give them three main reason why they should come in today to trade in their car!

We want to buy your car and  we can get you top dollar for it, the reason why is because we have a customer looking for that exact car or truck!

We may be able to trade you out and lower the payment with the remaining 2013 we have left over!

 Jason Barnes 

This one is going a little hard on you but you have to take control and make thing happen!

It is not slow!

Dealer sites are not slow! Your site may need to be updated with fresh content to get her humming again!

But that will cost money! If your already investing in SEO,  How much are they charging?

Are they doing and giving you a bi-weekly report of what they are doing? Call them out!

Get tough and make things happen!

Call me me if there's anything I can do to help you!

Manny Luna



Thanks Manny! I'm going to get on it first thing

Take control and do it!

Then you can tell the Dealer what changes you recommend he will listen with a smile:) 

Jason Barnes Data minding is good to use, but if you want to get quick results get them on the phone asap! 

There are many tools to use to send out an email that can bring in a high ROI. But our top dealers selling 300 to 700 are calling orphan owners every day setting appointment through their CRM.

 In no way I want disrespect anyone on the thread, I'm reading some powerful information here.

But I would side with Mike Warwick , the reason being, he's doing this everyday and is the hottest player in the game right now. Give him the ball and let him shoot! 

You already know it but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Your owner is expecting you to get different results without changing anything...that's insane.

BUT, you need to focus on what you CAN control if you're planning to stay with this irrational owner.

One idea may be to offer free appraisals to folks selling their vehicles. Since most need to trade or sell their car before they can get another, you may be able to help them, and help yourself.

Look on Craigslist for vehicles that are in that 30k to 80k mile range that aren't priced way out of reach in the for sale by owner cars and trucks section.

Make calls to those folks letting them know that your store is always looking for good deals on clean used vehicles and ask them to come in and show you their car so you guys can make them an offer if its nice.

When they come in, do a good appraisal walk around, learn why they are replacing it, what they plan to replace it with, build rapport and investigate and maybe you'll have an opportunity.

Even if they arent buying NOW, because maybe they already have, you can at least give them a figure on their car which may be more than anyone else has done for them so far.

Plus, it will help you meet more people so you'll have more people to prospect down the road and let's face it, almost everyone will buy again.

This could help you sell now, and later.

I know you're hoping for free, right now business but you know how insane it sounds when your owner asks you for it and without creating more visibility, it won't just happen.

If your owner continues this train of thinking, I suggest finding a place that is open to considering change.

If your 3rd party vendor is only producing 17 opportunities after spending XX thousands per month, your thinking is right to allocate those funds in another direction. SEE may not be the answer but change is obviously needed.

After 20 years in this business, 12 on your side of the desk and 8 on the vendor side and years of flying around training dealers in connecting buyers online and offline, I can help your dealer with some suggestions but that conversation should involve your owner if you want it to yield results.

As my buddy Many Luna offered, you can also connect with me directly. All my contact info is at and I'm happy to share a few more ideas with you.

Helping the best get better,

You and I are on the same page. I know there are areas that I can improve on such as better leadership and holding my department staff accountable but when I go through the leads it seems they are doing everything we ask them to so what else can I do? I send out manager emails making sure the customer is being taken care of and all their questions have been answered, send text messages, and make phone calls. This is the second dealer I have worked for in my area that has done this. They let me run the department like I want to and then they bring in new managers that have new ideas that I hate but since they are sales manager they trump my input even they really don't know anything about what I do. I'm to the point of not wanting to take another job like this but love what I do and love working here. My wife and I are expecting another child so I cant just up and leave but I've also asked if I was going to be given the chance to try to fix this issue multiple times and haven't heard back. Our meeting happened last Friday so I've sat here nearly a week trying to come up with something not knowing if its for nothing. Very stressful! I'm hoping to show them some of things that are being suggested in here and ask them if the main players in my side of this business are saying the same thing as me why do you think you know more? Very frustrated to say the least

Jason, you are in a position that many Internet Managers find themselves.  Please post the URL for your store so we can take a look at your website to determine how you can increase your lead count. There may be some website tweaks you can make to improve your website conversion rate.  I'm not sure how long you have worked in the auto business but you never want to discuss the internal relationships of the dealership.  You never know who is reading this blog and will take offense to something you've written and make a frustrating situation even worse.  I've had situations in my career where vendors have printed out blog posts and given them to the owner. At the very least, it's uncomfortable and in the worst case scenario, you could end up unemployed.

A great place to look for ideas to improve what you are doing now is with Dealeron's webinar series.  Go to www, and watch some of the previous webinars.  Tons of useful info there.  

The key to getting an owner to let you implement a new strategy is to build trust.  The easiest way to build trust is to deliver a strong ROI.  Find something that you can do that costs him nothing out of pocket and show a profit with it. Data mining is usually the easiest way. I have never met an owner who doesn't understand that they need to spend money to make money. Our job is to show them that the money they spend generates a strong return.  Personally, I want a 500% ROI.  If I spend $1000 on something, I want to make $5000 in gross.  Find out the ROI of everything you are doing now and show the owner what's not producing a return. Make a compelling case to reallocate that money.  

Mike, I hope what I said didn't come across as rash or unprofessional. I'm just trying to find ways to make things work like they should. I know a couple guys on here that are friends with the managers and owner of the dealership and was hoping to get some support which I think I have thus far. I manage three websites for the the dealership. Thanks for your help!

HI Jason,

I agree with the previous comments, however, perhaps I/we missed something when we read your initial concerns?  You were told not to spend any "more" money - not how to spend it; correct? 

If so, here are a few suggestions:

1) Evaluate all of your present vendors on a per lead/per sale basis - including profit considerations - to maximize your ROI

2) Eliminate your least profitable resource and replace them with a new solution with a 90 day performance expectation

3) Present you managers and dealer with your initial ROI analysis and suggested replacements and update your report weekly for your monitoring benefits and present monthly reports to decision makers at your dealership for a shared decision as to potential changes.  (Include the managers so they have buy-in for the decisions)

4) Advise and include your vendor partners in the results and impact of your new process

5) Recognize that Google has recently RADICALLY changed their SEO algorithms and you need to discuss how your web site provider has adjusted for them

6) When shifting funds - again, not increasing your budget per your dealer's request - you should consider:

a)  enhanced data based direct marketing using vendor solutions with a special focus on service as a sales source.

b) Videos of your inventory. They are better SEO magnets than pictures and provide better consumer experiences.

c) outsourced in-bound / outbound phone services to inspect and supplement your present staff's efforts

d) additional conversion tools and consumer centric information on your website and social networking sites

Finally, establish performance expectations not only for your vendors, but for yourself and every manager and sales person or you will never be able to evidence your own ROI as well as the support staff which should share in the responsibility assigned by your dealer.      

I have shown what our vendors are doing and aren't doing and suggested making a change. I don't control our online marketing budget but asked for it in last weeks meeting. I was told that I need to think of ways that has nothing to do with budget but ways to help overall traffic and sales without changing anything or adding more services. I was asked why are we spending more money than a Honda store on digital ads and that is when I realized there isn't much more I can say or do to make them "get it". I did a search and there are 22 Honda stores in 100 miles of our dealership. We have over 200 Chevy and Ford dealers in that same distance. Of course we are going to have to spend more than a Honda dealer because there is 10 times the amount of dealerships we are competing against. .

Like I said most of what you guys are suggesting to do is already done. I do need to get our SEO updated so thanks for pointing that out. I know there is more we can do just have to figure it out.


Good to hear that your ROI analysis is complete. I suggest that you post your current vendors and their individual performance as a reply so we can provide specific suggestions. After all, what are friends for!


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