The Secrets to Growing Your Website’s Leads, Calls & Sales: Transparency and Conversions


In the evolution of car dealer websites and what these should include, we’ve gone from arguing over whether a dealer should include more than a single used car photo (when I was with Dealer Specialties in 2003) to ditching configurators in favor of actual new car inventory (when I ran Reynolds Web Solutions in 2006) to pricing used cars at or near the selling price (when I was eCommerce Director at Asbury in 2009) to whether dealers should include true online car sales functionality on their sites (where we find ourselves today).

The biggest sticking point for true online car sales, by the way, is no longer the technology. Companies like AutoFi have already figured that out for both new and used car dealers. Today, the issue is that many dealers just aren’t ready to provide the 100% pricing and process transparency necessary to facilitate these online sales from start to finish.

This series is about website conversions; and let’s be clear: There is no greater website conversion goal than a sale. Making a sale (whether that means a sold unit or a service RO) is where all other conversions (leads, calls, texts, etc.) are expected to culminate. Given this, an online sale, which can only happen with full transparency, should be one of the conversion goals for your website.

Transparency is Good for Business

Today’s connected customer has (or can get) all of the information they need to make an informed decision. So, unlike just a few years ago when holding back information could increase your leads or store visits, today the opposite is true. Conversion in 2017 and beyond requires greater levels of pricing and process transparency.

Virtually everyone is online, yet not everyone submits leads prior to their arrival, correct? In fact, according to DrivingSales, 61% of buyers make no contact with you prior to arriving on your lot. How did this 61% choose you over the folks across the street?

Simple: They discovered everything they needed to know and then showed up armed with that knowledge. If your team treats them with genuine authenticity, and if what the buyer learned online holds true in your dealership, you’ll sell a car.

They uncovered just enough details about market pricing, trade values, available inventory, etc. – that is, transparency – from your website or any number of third party sites, to encourage them to take the next step and head on down to your lot.

Transparency Builds Trust

When we talk about trust and transparency, we’re not just talking about the variable side of the business. Fixed operations, especially your service drive, can benefit greatly from increasing transparency in both process and pricing.

(Process transparency, by the way, is about telling the customer what you’re doing now and what they should expect to happen next. That is, keeping them informed about the entire process. An example of process transparency on your website might be a trade-in form that advises the prospect about where you’re getting your values and what the in-store appraisal steps will include.)

Increased website transparency – that builds trust and grows conversions – for your service department includes seemingly innocuous items such as alerting site visitors that you offer free inspections, free lifetime tire rotations, $29.95 oil changes, etc.

Your service team knows these things about the dealership, but consumers don’t know unless you say it on your website. Too many of today’s customers will skip your dealership for a regional tire store or oil change place because they assume you’re too expensive and that you charge for everything.

You see, today’s consumer assumes “no price” equals “highest price” when it comes to service and sales. Next up in this series we’ll tackle your sales managers’ worst nightmare: Posting Your Selling Price Online.

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post: Before You Change Even One Word on Your Website…)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in Digital Marketing and Website Conversion. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at