The #1 Thing I Wish I Knew While I Was Working At A Dealership

Feb 6, 2017 | Company and Events, Digital Marketing

I worked as a BDC Consultant and Social Media Coordinator at a Toyota dealership for 4 years. I saw first-hand how rare it was for marketing to generate qualified leads for the dealership…the failed mailers, bad social pages, and ever-so-helpful forms being filled out by “nope@noneyabidness.com.”

I’m sure you can relate.

And I’m sure you know all too well the mood that envelops the showroom after another slow day. A dealership being low on internet leads to dial down on, ups to take for a test drive, and sales to close creates a stench that hangs around the floor like a gym bag left in a sauna.

Not even free pizza can save that kind of mood. (I’ve tried.)

When The Dealership Was Down On Sales, We Always Fired Up The Marketing Engines

You name it: Top-of-the-line key mailers, email campaigns stuffed with gift cards, tons of radio ads…plus the multitude of digital marketing products our store tried after hundreds of vendors pitched us.

Each one GUARANTEED**** to be the top solution for leads, promising to help lift our bottom line and bring more qualified leads into our dealership.

Some of them worked (???maybe???), but most failed. We were doing no better than tossing ads at people like a blindfolded drunk throwing darts at a board.

Some solutions worked, but most failed. We were doing no better than tossing ads at people like a blindfolded drunk throwing darts at a board.”

To Increase Internet Leads, Our Dealership Tried Its Luck With Facebook

In 2013, along with so many other small businesses in our area, we jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, having little-to-absolutely-no-freaking-clue what we were doing.

At first (and for a long time) all we focused on was Likes: how many Likes we had on our Page; how many we could get on every picture and post. I was responsible for posting on the dealership’s Facebook Page, but little did I know we were only reaching people that Liked our page – and that number was mostly comprised of our employees, our own friends and family, and previous customers.

Then, after learning that only 2% of our Facebook fans were seeing our posts, we started Boosting. But…

  • with ZERO strategy
  • with a fluctuating ad spend that ranged from $5-200 for a single post
  • with hardly any targeting other than a 25mi radius around our store
  • …and without ever looking back at the post’s performance (which is super limited anyway with Boosted posts)

Do you think that brought in more qualified leads and improved our dealership’s sales? Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

Sure, we got 50 Likes on a lucky Breast Cancer Awareness post, but anyone outside our “little bubble” had no idea what sales we were running, or how happy Cindy was with her new Camry.

Do you think that brought in more qualified leads and improved our dealership’s sales? Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

I grew tired of it. My team grew tired of it. Facebook clearly wasn’t the best internet lead strategy…Wasn’t there something out there for dealers that actually reached qualified leads?

Fast forward to this past December, when I started as a Facebook Advertising Expert/Nerd at Dealers United.

I was shocked—and to be honest, pretty jealous—to learn about the data dealers now have access to on the nation’s #1 social platform.

So What Was The #1 Thing I Wish I Knew While I Was Working At A Dealership?

That a true Facebook Strategy could make a BIG impact on qualified Internet leads—and our bottom line.

After only a few weeks, I learned how I could get dealerships’ sales events, reviews, testimonial videos in front of – get this – people who actually are In-Market for a car.

Mind. Blown.

And wait – there’s more. Then Dealers United’s Facebook Advertising Team showed me how to:

  • Show service coupons to people in the dealer’s CRM
  • Deliver a Trade-In Appraisal to vehicle owners who have had their vehicle for 3+ years
  • Display dealers’ Veteran’s Day offers to only Veterans (!!!), and similar strategies with First Responders, Teachers, Women, etc.
  • Get leads directly from forms on Facebook into the dealership’s CRM
  • …and a heck of a lot more

Example Veteran’s day campaigns that are targeting In-Market Shoppers by specific model lines. Click here to learn more about how we use data in our Facebook campaigns.

In other words…our Facebook strategy was giving auto dealers everything my store had ever wanted: the power to take ad spend and put exactly what a dealer wants in front of exactly who they want.

Our Facebook strategy was giving auto dealers everything my store had ever wanted: the power to take ad spend and put exactly what a dealer wants in front of exactly who they want.”

I Can’t Go Back In Time, But I’m Doing What I Can To Help Current Dealers Generate More Qualified Leads

I wish I knew then what I know now: that a REAL Facebook Advertising strategy could’ve actually generated qualified leads for our dealership.

Today, my team is using that knowledge to help thousands of dealers avoid blindly throwing darts. Now, thanks to DU’s program, these dealers are hitting the bullseye.

And the results are better than anything I’ve seen from direct mail, radio ads, you name it – or else I wouldn’t still have my job. 🙂

If you want to know more, I’d love to chat with you—even if it’s just to help give your dealership some campaign ideas that I KNOW are working out there. Feel free to leave a message below or email me at heather@dealersunited.com.

Blog Author - Heather Swinford

Written By Heather Swinford
Heather is one of Dealers United’s in-house Facebook Advertising “nerds.” When she isn’t diving into dealership ad campaigns and studying conversion reports, Heather is usually spending time with her husband and two kids, or basking in her not-so-guilty pleasures of Hawaiian pizza and banana split ice cream.


Who is Dealers United?

Dealers United is a game-changing automotive company dedicated to helping auto dealers improve their dealerships. We have helped over 6,500 dealers nationwide cut costs, save time, and sell more cars.

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