How to Choose An Automotive Digital Retailer

How to Choose An Automotive Digital Retailer

According to Google, 92 percent of car buyers research online before making a purchase. You need to make it as easy as possible for online shoppers to make the leap from researcher to customer if you want more sales. You’ll need a digital retailing tool.

What are digital retailing tools? They are online programs shoppers can use to help them:

  • Schedule a test drive
  • Pre-qualify for financing
  • Calculate loan payments
  • Value their trade-in, and
  • Ask questions about a car

In short, a digital retailing tool will simplify the buying process and generate more qualified leads for your sales team.

Not all digital retailers are created equal, though. Some are much more effective than others.

How can you know which tool is right for your car dealership? We recommend considering these three factors:

1. The Features

When shopping for digital retailing tools, it is vital to consider the features every option provides. At a minimum, you should expect each system to offer:

  • A trade-in valuation tool
  • A payment calculator, and
  • A loan pre-qualification form

However, depending on the nature of your dealership’s customer base, you may also need your digital retailing tool to provide features like a tutorial video or CRM compatibility.

Of course, it’s also important to ensure the features offered by the digital retailing tools are easy to use. If they are clunky or confusing, you may want to explore other options.

2. The Look and Feel

You don’t want your digital retailing tool to seem out of place on your car dealership’s website. As such, you should ensure the option you select fits the look and feel of your site.

We recommend paying particularly close attention to design and color customizability. If your digital retailing tool uses different colors than the rest of your site, your customers may not trust it.

It’s also a good idea to check if the call-to-action buttons are editable. Customized phrases tend to achieve better results than generic directions.

3. The Provider’s Reputation

It is crucial to think about the reputation of the company that makes the digital retailing tools. Are they new to the automotive industry? Or have they been helping dealerships like yours generate leads for years?

Do they have a reputation for being overly sales-focused? Or do they have a dedicated support team you can call if you have questions about the system?

If a provider seems inexperienced or unsupportive, they’re probably not the right partner for you.

Why FastLane Leads is the Perfect Digital Retailing Tool for Your Dealership

The search for the perfect digital retailing tool for your dealership does not have to be difficult. In fact, you’ve already found what you’re looking for! 

FastLane Leads from fusionZONE is one of the best digital retailing tools on the market today. It offers tons of innovative features designed to help you generate and manage leads, such as:

  • A trade-in valuation tool powered by Kelley Blue Book
  • A financing pre-qualification portal and a payment calculator
  • The ability to integrate with both search results pages and vehicle display pages
  • A detailed tutorial video, and
  • CRM compatibility

FastLane Leads also fits in seamlessly with the look and feel of your car dealership’s website. It even gives you the power to customize your call-to-action buttons to make them more appealing to your customers.

Of course, the fusionZONE team didn’t develop FastLane Leads overnight. We’ve been creating award-winning sales conversion tools for more than a decade. We know what it takes to develop a highly-effective digital retailing system.

fusionZONE also understands how important it is to support our dealer partners. That is why we have a dedicated support line our clients can call any time they have a question about FastLane Leads or any of our other products. When you need us, we will be there.

With so much to love about fusionZONE and the FastLane Leads digital retailing system, it is no surprise we have a 4.9-star rating on Google.

fusionZONE Google Business Profile

Ready to Get Started with FastLane Leads? Contact fusionZONE Today! 

Is your dealership ready to begin generating leads and driving sales with FastLane Leads? If so, please do not hesitate to call fusionZONE at (424) 232-0728. Our friendly representatives will be more than happy to schedule a demo and answer all your questions. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Your equipment dealership has lots of moving parts. In an average week, you and your team must manage stock levels, generate spec sheets, track invoices, schedule maintenance, and much more. The long list of tasks to complete can quickly become overwhelming. At least, it can if you don’t have Karmak Fusion.

What Is Karmak Fusion?

Karmak Fusion is an end-to-end Microsoft Windows dealer management system (or DMS). It offers all the data, alerts, and tools you need to run your business efficiently and profitably. Here are just a few of the modules and integrations included in the Karmak DMS:

Fusion Parts

Fusion Parts provides equipment dealerships like yours with all the tools needed to maximize profits, control stock, and make real-time, data-driven inventory decisions. Once you load your inventory into its backend (Unity API), it allows you to:

  • Accurately identify fast- and slow-moving parts
  • Substitute parts to prevent lost sales
  • Increase traffic and move stock with promotional pricing
  • Transfer units between warehouses without errors
  • Speed up customer service for backordered inventory, and
  • Expedite the stock receiving process with barcode receiving

Fusion Parts even comes with Karmak’s Deliver-It application. This tool can help you monitor the efficiency of your delivery team. It also gives you the ability to capture delivery signatures and pictures.

Fusion Sales

Karmak Fusion doesn’t just let you manage your dealership’s inventory in a smooth and efficient way, it can also help you make more deals and increase your revenue.  Karmak’s Fusion Sales program gives you the ability to:

  • Send quotes to clients on OEM forms
  • Deliver and invoice units in installments
  • Analyze the profit on each line item in a deal
  • Easily manage the client’s after sales service
  • View real-time inventory costs, and
  • Review snapshots of unit ownership changes

The Fusion Sales system even allows you to view detailed salesperson commission records for each line item in a deal. With the Karmak software, there’s no need for any manual calculations.

Fusion Service

Your commitment to your clients doesn’t end when the deal closes. You also need to help them maintain and repair their equipment. This Karmak Fusion module helps you do just that.  With Fusion Service, you can:

  • Track the proficiency and productivity of your technicians
  • Monitor your service team’s calendar
  • Notify customers about necessary preventative maintenance
  • Manage deferred unit repairs, and
  • Check client credit before opening a repair order

The capabilities offered by this module of the Karmak DMS can help you keep your customers happy and generate additional revenue for your dealership.

Fusion Accounting

The Fusion Accounting module makes keeping track of your equipment dealership’s finances a breeze by giving you the ability to:

  • Track your organization’s fixed assets and post depreciation
  • Monitor purchase orders and automatically pay vendors
  • Outsource collections to a third-party company
  • Manage multi-location clients from a single parent account, and
  • Reconcile your inventory with your accounts

With Fusion Accounting, all transactions are carried out in real-time, meaning you always have access to the most up-to-date information about your dealership’s finances. No need to wait for a quarterly report from your CPA.

fusionZONE + Karmak

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Karmak Fusion is its ability to integrate with fusionZONE.  When you load your data into the Unity API backend, the skilled developers at fusionZONE can build a high-converting website with a real-time connection to your inventory in as little as a few weeks.

Once your new website is complete, your customers will have the ability to search for and purchase equipment online, without needing to call your office to check inventory levels. That is a surefire way to boost sales!  The seamless integration makes the process simple. It involves no time-consuming data entry. All you need to do is contact the fusionZONE team and let them work their magic!

While talking to a representative, don’t forget to ask about other fusionZONE digital marketing services, like:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Google Ads management
  • Reputation management
  • Video advertising, and
  • Social media marketing

With Karmak and fusionZONE behind you, there’s no limit to what your dealership can achieve!  Once you have the Karmak DMS up and running, get in touch with the fusionZONE team by calling (424) 232-0728 or filling in this contact form. Before long, you’ll have a new website your customers are sure to love!

Think phone calls aren’t a large part of your lead generation? Think again. fusionZONE Automotive CEO Ed Barton discusses how impactful your phone line could be.

 

Customer Experience How you make them feel

Technology companies often focus on their products and leave service levels far behind. They rely on shiny objects and whiz-bang features to sell products. Companies that lead with technology often forget that the result of a customer interaction isn’t the technology – it’s how the customer feels using the technology. At fusionZONE, we strive to be Deliberately Different by asking, “How did this make them feel?”. We ask this question at every client interaction, and it underpins every product we design and release. Our focus is on the client’s experience in everything we do.

 

Perfection is impossible, but caring is not. Did you make your client feel understood? Did you make your client feel appreciated? Did you make your client feel confident? Did you make your client feel empowered? If your client feels cared for, they are likely to be a brand ambassador, help you and your team improve, and be a long-term customer. We will always have room to improve the process, training, and tools. Mistakes are inevitable. Ensuring your client feels heard, understood, and senses urgency when an issue arises is critical for a client-centered organization.

 

One of the legends of the retail automotive industry, Joe Girard, understood this. He made the Guinness Book of World Records for his sales ability. He recognized that how you make the customer feel was the critical piece of the sales process – not just during the sale, but after the sale was made. He stayed in touch with customers and took care of service issues when they arose after the sale. As a result of this focus, he banked repeat business year after year.  Technology companies have a lot to learn from this approach. Customers expect that you will get decent technology. Honestly, most websites and digital marketing technologies are pretty much the same. What is unexpected is the commitment to service after the sale. That is the real product. 

 

Innovation at fusionZONE starts with keeping the client in mind. How can we make their experience and the end-user experience better? How can we help our client’s business be more profitable? We are midway through developing a new platform that will transform the dealer website service experience. With targets of four-hour ticket turn arounds, easy content management, lightning-fast speeds, dedicated support teams, and highly qualified leads, we are not focused on the next shiny object but the top prize. Technology is merely a tool to achieve a client objective, and it certainly helps make their business more successful. But, ultimately, client service – how you made them FEEL using the technology – is the real product.


In this modern age of transparency, dealers can get somewhat confused on the subject of pricing. Should they provide upfront pricing on their website, or ask customers to engage with their site first before receiving the dealership’s best price?

The industry is pretty divided on this topic, with consultants, trainers and others on both sides of the fence. On one side are those who feel that providing the best price on the dealer’s website without asking the customer for any engagement (no call-to-action), will cause the consumer to appreciate the transparency and choose that dealer. On the other side are those who feel that providing pricing without first requiring some form of engagement can, in fact, hurt sales.

First Theory: Provide Price Upfront – Those who have this opinion believe that today’s consumers are accustomed to fast information access. Consumers want immediate gratification and results, the same as they get from Google searches or browsing most other retailer’s websites. They can then take that information and make buying decisions. Those dealers perceived as the most helpful and transparent will win the business – especially with a significant purchase such as a new vehicle.

Second Theory: Get the consumer to engage before you show price, such as with an automated pricing tool on the site. Those in the industry who subscribe to this opinion feel that if you provide pricing upfront, shoppers will merely use it to price shop other dealers until they find the lowest price. By giving pricing information up front, without some form of engagement first, the dealer risks consumers price shopping without having a chance to first consider that dealer’s unique selling propositions including customer experience, amenities and other benefits such as free loaner cars, car washes, etc. Getting a consumer to engage first, perhaps with a quick price tool on the site, can increase leads and provide more opportunity to sell the vehicle than full pricing transparency.

Depending on the dealership’s thought processes either could work. But, is there a “right” way that all dealers should follow to convert the most consumers and/or sell the most cars via their website?

What do you think is the best theory? Let me know with your comments below. I think this will prove to be a lively discussion!


Conference season is upon us. As dealers go from seminar to seminar, and presentation after presentation, it can cause mass confusion about what data really matters. As a dealer, you may well be asking yourself, “What data should I really be watching at my dealership?”
Well, let’s keep it simple! Over the years I have found it boils down to two key things. Here is what you should be investigating:

  1. Conversions: Many years ago Autotrader.com was the top lead provider for dealers. As the Autotrader platform became less effective, generating fewer form leads and phone calls, Autotrader told dealers that customers were no longer filling out forms on websites. Also, according to Autotrader, customers were no longer calling dealers. They were just shopping on Autotrader.com, then they would show up unannounced at the dealership. Once Autotrader’s comments took hold, other lead and website providers went down the same path, instead of learning about today’s customer’s and how they shop.  Basically, they took the path of least resistance.

So, is it true that customers no longer fill-out form submissions on automotive websites?  I would say nothing could be further from the truth. Based on the past five years of data I have from working with Toyota, I have seen the exact opposite. Conversions have increased! Customers will still submit forms, and they are still calling the dealership.  Conversions really do matter and below are a few keys to customer engagement:

  • Have the right calls to actions on your website and VDPs.

 

  • Use automation to reply to customer’s requests immediately. Customers want immediate gratification and dealerships who respond quickly will often win the business or, at the very least, have the edge over the competition.

 

  1. Analytics: Google Analytics is perhaps the most confusing tool in the industry. For years the “experts” spoke about Time On Site, Bounce Rate, Impressions and more. However, they failed to consider how mobile device usage was affecting the data.

Guess what? Mobile has changed the game 100% when dealing with Google Analytics. Many companies are still talking about and selling Bounce Rate, or how many pages a consumer visited on a dealer’s website. As mobile usage has made double-digit climbs year in and year out, this is no longer relevant data.
It is hard to believe that companies are still making dealers swallow this dated information, as we are approaching over five years of irrelevancy. Case in point:  When a customer visits a dealer’s website on a mobile device and hits the click-to-call button, Google will report this as a 100% Bounce Rate for that visit, as the customer was on and off the website in a matter of seconds. This is entirely wrong information! The customer converted to a lead in just a few seconds. However, Google does not report it accurately. Instead, they label this customer as one who bounced. Bounce Rate does not matter in today’s digital landscape.
The exact same principle applies to Time On Site data. In the above example, the customer was on the website for three seconds and actually converted into a lead.
Most dealers are still wasting time analyzing and looking for the longer visits, assuming a three second visit was nothing but a bounce. When you compare that to a customer who is on a website for six minutes without converting, I will take the mobile customer who converted in three seconds all day long!
This brings me to my final point. Dealers set up Google Analytics on their dealership’s website 5-10 years ago. It is not set up for today’s metrics. Dealers can log-in to Google Analytics and see Bounce Rate, Time On Site, Pages per Visit and more, but this is all outdated information that no longer matters.
In today’s society of mobile-first usage, it is vital to focus on the correct data. This includes metrics on how many VDPs were visited, how many times the click-to call-button was used, and how many times a customer scrolled through photos of an actual vehicle. These data points indicate a very interested customer and are much more relevant than the outdated metrics that dealers are still relying on to make decisions, and that vendors reference as proof of performance.
As we go into NADA and the full conference season, consider this information when deciding where to invest your time. Make it a priority to visit your current vendors and ask them to show you these particular data points. Having full knowledge of and using modern data metrics that make sense will give you a more accurate benchmark, and you can see whether your website is actually performing – or whether the data being fed to you is all hot air. Good luck!


Dealerships spend a lot of money on leads. The bigger the store, the more money spent. And, added to that expense are staffing costs and the time and effort involved in trying to engage with consumers who submit the leads.
In the car shopping process consumers conduct a considerable amount of research and visit many different touch points. A major goal of any dealer’s digital advertising is to engage that consumer, capture their interest in a vehicle and get them onto their website. Typically, at that point, the consumer has narrowed their vehicle choice down to one the dealership has in stock, and the behavior indicates a low-funnel buyer.
Then the magic happens… and that customer converts on your website. But then the process grinds to a sickening halt.
Wait a minute – what the heck happens here — why do so few of these leads turn into actual sales?  Something inevitably motivated that car shopper to fill in that form to get more information and initiate contact. So, where’s the problem?
We studied the process in many dealerships and found the problem lies in the fact that the average time for a lead to get into the CRM is 6-12 minutes. This is for a multitude of reasons including poor email providers, volume of requests being processed, etc. But the point is, it’s pretty inefficient.
The faster you obtain the lead information and contact the inquiring customer, the more likely that customer will still be sitting in front of their computer, perhaps even staring at the VDP they converted on! Each passing minute reduces the chance the customer is still in “car-shopping” mode, available to talk. The general rule of thumb is that the first person to get that customer on the phone gets the sale.
However, at most dealerships what happens is as follows: The Internet Manager or BDC team receives that lead in the CRM. Auto-responders get fired out and dealership employees start calling. But the customer does not answer the phone. The Internet Manager or BDC agent might make that initial outbound call within seconds of receiving the lead, but still fail to connect with the customer. Sadly, that lag of 6-12 minutes getting the lead into the CRM can quite simply destroy the sale.
Have you ever heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? The same applies to the digital world. The mechanics involved once a customer clicks that “submit” button typically go something like this:
Customer hits submit.  Information is sent to website provider.  Website provider sends the information to the dealership’s CRM in ADF/XML format. CRM provides dealer with the lead.
If the Internet Manager or BDC agent quickly connects with that lead, the customer is typically impressed and open to talk. It’s the time lag between a customer requesting information and being contacted that reduces contact percentages. It simply creates inefficient communication chains and a poor customer experience.
How can you tell if this is happening at your store? Test it yourself! Submit a lead and monitor how long it takes – on average – for a lead to go from your website into your CRM. But don’t stop there. In addition, monitor how fast someone on your staff reaches out. Both of these factors are vital to improving the time it takes to actually connect with a customer, and from there your overall closing rate.
Customers like a good experience. If you can quickly connect and provide relevant information, this starts building rapport and trust.
Don’t get caught out by a failure to communicate.


The sheer volume of leads many dealerships receive can be overwhelming. And, not only do they have to respond (hopefully quickly) to any new leads, they are also expected to follow up with those leads with a “buy or die” mentality. I can guarantee you that whoever is responsible for following up with leads can quickly be overwhelmed by their to-do list in the CRM.So, what do they do? Quite frankly, they cherry pick leads. They tend to place more focus on new leads, contacting and prioritizing them based on the few tidbits of information the customer enters when filling out the lead form.
To compound the problem, some dealerships fail to teach employees how to interact with these prospective car buyers to take them all the way down the funnel to a sale. This lack of correct training and processes can lead to salespeople pre-qualifying leads, wasting good prospects and leaving money on the table.
For example, let’s say an Internet Manager gets a lead. The customer has a 2017 Ford F-150 with 40,000 miles on it. The Internet Manager immediately believes this lead is a waste of time. Without further investigation they simply think the customer must be upside down on their loan. They may then contact them hesitantly, if at all. If they do reach out they perhaps begin the conversation with a negative attitude and then lose the sale due to lack of interest.
But wait a minute, for all they know the customer doesn’t owe anything on that truck. However, they have already made up their mind and pre-qualified themselves out of a sale. Rather than reaching out and aggressively attempting to contact the customer, they perhaps make one attempt, then move on to the next lead that just came in… and the cycle continues on.
Most salespeople are trained to pre-qualify customers in their normal sales process on the lot, asking exploratory questions to determine whether they should show the customer what they asked to see, or make a beeline into the showroom and have the customer fill out a credit application. But this mindset does not translate well to online leads.
Another part of the problem is that if the person at the dealership lacks sales experience, they quickly learn which leads are “hot” and which are not simply based on whether they are able to contact the customer or have tried a zillion times. Hell, I would probably get frustrated as well.
The point is that every lead is an opportunity and every opportunity should be treated and responded to the same way – quickly.
These days, it is not uncommon for a customer who plans to go car shopping THAT DAY to fill out a lead form on the Internet to see what responses they receive. When they don’t receive anything but auto-responders and templates (yes, they know that they are receiving templated responses), they simply go out and shop.  And if you failed to respond they may very well go shop your competitor who DID respond.
So, firstly don’t pre-qualify your online leads, treat all leads as prospective car sales. And secondly, respond to them quickly and appropriately.
Otherwise you are losing sales and throwing money away on leads that are never followed up. How many times has your dealership sold a car to someone upside down, with challenged credit or who seems like a lost cause when they came onto the lot? I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of those instances. The same applies to online leads.
Treat every Internet lead as an opportunity. Treat them all the same and do so quickly. Establish a process and reward those that follow it.
Sometimes, the runt of the litter turns into the strongest dog in the pack. And those can be the dogs with the most potential, but the easiest to miss.