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Review: DrivingSales Executive Summit 2015 Best Idea Contest | DrivingSales News

Review: DrivingSales Executive Summit 2015 Best Idea Contest

November 10, 2015 0 Comments


Josh Pogue, digital marketing manager at Weins Canada, takes the cash and Best Idea title at DSES 2015 with his simple trick to increase SRP to VDP conversion rate.

At the DrivingSales Executive Summit last month (Oct. 18-20), five dealership executive finalists took the stage at the Bellagio in Las Vegas at the 7th annual DrivingSales Executive Summit for $10,000 in cash and prizes. The title at stake was the Best Idea, a competition designed to uncover The Most Innovative Dealership Strategy of 2015. Auto dealership professionals present a strategy they’ve implemented that’s proven significant results for their store to an audience of their peers and a panelist of progressive dealer executive judges. Finalists invited to present onstage are selected from online applications selected by the DSES dealer panel, which is a large group of progressive dealer executives who vote for applicants anonymously.

The five finalists are given five minutes to make a case for their innovative practice, followed by four minutes of question and answer from the judges. This year’s onstage judges consisted of Erich Gail, chief operating officer of Cardinale Auto Group; Bradley Lillie, vice president of Gregg Young Chevrolet; and Robert Karbaum, former Best Idea winner and national digital strategy manager at Dilawri Group. There were also approximately 30 other dealer executives in the audience scoring each finalist. Once the contest ended, all scoring sheets were collected and the points were tallied to determine the winner.

Judges evaluated the presenters on the following criteria:

  • How relevant is the solution or project?
  • How does it solve the intended problem?
  • How does it work for my store?

And the winner is…

“More leads, more sales, more money!” concluded Josh Pogue, digital marketing manager at Weins Canada, in his five-minute pitch to the Best Idea Contest panel of judges. Pogue won the Best Idea title and $3,000 cash for his simple trick that led to better utilization (aka more vehicles sold!) of third-party inventory sites.

First, Pogue identified the problem: low conversion rate from SRP to VDP. He explained that in 2012 specifically, potential customers visiting partner sites like Autotrader were clicking through just 2.7 percent of ads on search results pages to actually reach the vehicle description page.

Pogue developed three years of research and data to support his Zillow reverse-logic theory. He explained while he and his wife were searching for condos they often would click a photo from a search results page that showed the exterior in order to see the interior shots of their potential new home. “If I was clicking on the outside of a building to see the inside, would customers click the inside of a car to see the outside?” he wondered.

Following a six-month trial of exclusively listing interior photos of inventory on SRP ads, the conversion rate increased 92 percent from 2.7 percent in 2012 to 5.3 percent in 2013. Unexpectedly, the VDP contact rate also increased from 0.9 percent in 2012 to 1.2 percent in 2013; a 33 percent increase year-over-year. In order prove causality, Pogue reverted to the traditional method of posting exterior photos and conversion rate declined as a result.

In the last three years, their Autotrader leads have resulted in 20 sales per month compared to the previous period of 11 sales per month. Pogue urged dealers that this best idea was a no-brainer because 1) the image sticks out on results page, 2) customers want to see exterior images, 3) drawing the shopper to VDP exposes more buyers to the dealership’s thoughtful vehicle descriptions and quality photos, and 4) contact ratio maintained or increased.

On the final day of DSES, Master of Ceremonies Charlie Vogelheim announced Pogue as the winner and presented him with the cash prize. He says he’s already thinking about what idea he’ll propose next year.

“Last year at DSES I was just a face in the crowd, but once I got up there and presented something a little bit interesting I got on the ‘cool kids’ radar,” he laughed. He says the professional support and sharing from industry peers is a huge personal draw to DSES. Pogue plans to implement tactics he heard and even make a visit to an industry peer’s dealership to keep driving innovation at home.

Pogue also tipped his hat to the “clever” Robert Karbaum who was his critic onstage, but he said through mentorship Karbaum encouraged him to innovate simply and make impactful changes within his scope and control. Pogue offered a few words of experience for fellow marketers experimenting with innovative ideas in their own stores. He said take time to present your idea to leadership, make sure you back it up, analyze your competition, and present an edge. “Treat yourself like a vendor,” he said, “and make sure you’re ready to present it more than once.”


Meet the runners-up

Benjamin Blanco, web manager at Andy Mohr Automotive Group of Indianapolis, presented his strategy for “Leveraging Mobile Wallets” to establish trust and build loyalty through exceptional experience. Blanco looked at independent competitors to build his plan to methodically and strategically use coupons to drive and retain business – powered by the mobile wallet. Over 8,000 coupons were viewed and redemptions were associated with higher ROs.

Chris Leslie, director of e-commerce at Fairway Chevrolet, built upon a concept that he picked up from DSES last year. Leslie utilized MailChimp to automate the dealership’s blog feed in a weekly email to employees to encourage internal dialogue, at no cost. The ancillary benefit was the feed could also be utilized to engage customers directly or by remarketing.

David Hicks, marketing and business development manager at Ontario Motor Sales, presented OMS Direct, a 21st century car buying and maintenance solution with the tagline “We bring it.? The program, which provides online and in-home solutions for purchase and maintenance, was designed to create a better customer experience and address internal and external challenges dealers face today.

Last but not least, Chris Febbraio, business development director from Stamford Ford Lincoln, offered his SEO strategy to increase organic traffic in just five minutes a day. He said he earned his dealership over $80,000 in net profit by leveraging Google’s customer resources to devise a strategy that made their VDP pages more attractive to Google’s algorithms. By building the VDP page content over a course of days, Febbraio was able to increase organic traffic by 106 percent.

Videos of the Best Idea Contest and more conference highlights will be available on DrivingSalesExecutiveSummit.com and to attendees in the next month. Dealer professionals are encouraged to apply for next year’s contest for a free entry to DSES and for their chance at the cash and title. DSES 2016 will be held Oct. 23-25 at the Bellagio, Las Vegas.

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.

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