Over the last several years, third-party sites like CarGurus, Cars.com, and TrueCars have become a popular tool for dealers looking to boost their New and Used sales numbers and the reason is obvious: sites like these are the most-used resources for online car shopping.
When shopping for a car online most New car shoppers start off on third party websites and end up on dealership sites while most Used car shoppers start and end their journey entirely on third party sites.
This puts third party sites in a pretty powerful position when it comes to directing traffic to your store.
One popular third-party site both for shoppers and dealers alike has recently come under fire for some of their practices including how they “rate” cars as a good or bad deal. On their site, shoppers can view cars at dealerships in their area and receive information about the vehicle including a score from the website on whether the vehicle is a good or bad deal. The third-party then sells potential buyers back to the dealer as leads.
Many dealerships around the country are now alleging that the good or bad deal ratings seem to be arbitrary, having had their reconditioned Used cars scored lower than their competitor’s cars being sold “as is” at comparable prices. On top of that, when someone is looking at your vehicles that you have paid to have posted, the site will prompt them to look at other vehicles from your competitors.
To make matters worse, this company has recently been hiking the prices on these dealers citing increased traffic through the third-party site (not the dealer’s site).
Let’s break that down for a second. This third-party is essentially a publisher using your inventory as the content of their website. While you are paying them to share your deals with shoppers, they are not only potentially discouraging shoppers from buying from you, but also directing them to your competitors.
Obviously, not all third-party sites are out to pull one over on dealers, but this example just shows why it is important for you as a dealer to remember that these sites do have an agenda.
So, what should you do? These sites have become the most-used resource for car shoppers for a reason: convenience. Shoppers want to avoid the hassle of driving around and visiting multiple dealerships.
If car shoppers are using third-party sites as a matter of convenience, what could be more convenient than the best deal in their market showing up on their phone or tablet while they browse Facebook or surf the web?
Instead of passively marketing to these shoppers by having your cars waiting for them on a third-party site, why not actively show them your deals before they get to that point?