COVID-19 Update: How One Dealer’s Website Sold 400 Vehicles in 6 Days

By Desiree Homer

This Dealer Group’s Fresh Approach to Online Sales

Dealer owners continuously look for ideas and best practices, leveraged by others to help increase car sales during these pandemic impacted buying conditions. Sure, transitioning to digital and virtual solutions has become the norm now. And dealer groups are quickly adopting new strategies to try and help inspire consumers to come back to the market. One dealer married a traditional selling tactic with today’s digital platform requirement. And it proved to be incredibly well-received and lucrative, considering it helped the dealer group sell 400 vehicles in six days.

Putting a Fresh Face on an Old Selling Strategy

The Jim Ellis Automotive Group in the Atlanta area launched what it calls the Jim Ellis Express Way before COVID-19. This digital platform, first introduced in April of 2019, is a dedicated website where customers can engage the dealerships from the comfort of their homes. As if the dealer group could see into the future, this site was designed to offer appraisals, calculate financing, and write deals for any of the inventory across the 18-store group. A customer can then finalize and take delivery of the vehicle, without ever leaving home.

Having this digital buying platform in place sure made conducting business during economic shut-ins doable. But then Jimmy Ellis, the group’s president, tapped into an old strategy. Holiday weekend sales events have always been popular ways to lure potential car buyers to the lot. But this Memorial Day weekend would prove to be different, considering the social distancing and mitigation requirements in place for shoppers. The dealership group held a virtual Memorial Day weekend, for all of its stores and via the Jim Ellis Express Way platform. The results of this marriage of old sales tactics and new digital engagement were astounding. The group sold 400 vehicles over a period of six days, as part of their “At-Home Memorial Day Savings Event.” Compared to 2019’s 413 vehicles sold in the same time, this new idea proved putting a fresh face on an old strategy to be a success.

User-Friendly Experience Matters

This Memorial Day sales event worked because the Jim Ellis Express Way was easy to use. In fact, the group received tons of feedback from customers online who were pleasantly surprised with how simple and seamless the process worked. Just having an online portal for trade-in evaluations or digital paperwork isn’t enough. Clicking through to the next step has to be easy and pleasant for the customer. If your dealership has digital browsing and buying options but isn’t seeing much traffic, it may mean you could stand to improve the user experience of the platform.

“Our business is changing,” says Mark Vickery, the Senior Director of Performance Management for VinSolutions. Vickery chats with Dave and Andy in a recent Dealer News Today podcast episode about the crucial nature of digital optimization. Tune in to hear more insights about creating the most engaging strategies for your online segment. It may be the only way forward. And based on the success of the Jim Ellis Express Way’s Memorial Day weekend sale, it’s clear merging old tactics with new channels can be incredibly lucrative.