Slow-moving dealership websites turn off customers, says Brett Sutherlin, who discovered how much third-party scripts can reduce speed to a crawl.
Sutherlin learned that while doing an audit of a Toyota dealer’s website. Over a year, the store had signed up for 73 add-ons and plug-ins for its website. The dealership subsequently canceled them, but Sutherlin’s audit revealed 71 of the 73 still were active, running and gumming up website functionality.
Their removal immediately got things moving. That’s significant because today’s auto consumers want speed, not only in how fast it takes to buy a car in person but also how quickly they can navigate through a dealership website, Sutherlin says.
“Consumers spend more and more time shopping online for a vehicle and expect to get the information they want in real time,” says Sutherlin, head of FusionZONE Automotive, a company he founded 10 years ago. It specializes in digital dealer services, including website design.
“We live in a world of fast; fast cars, fast food, faster checkout,” he says. “Consumers don’t want to wait, they want everything now. And in this new car-buying era, internet shoppers are no different.
“You have to grab your customers before they leave your website or a third-party website that features your vehicles. And definitely before they get distracted by another crazy cat video.”
Sutherlin is from a dealership family that owns seven Nissan stores in Florida and Georgia. The family sold 23 dealerships to AutoNation in 1996 – a year after he graduated from Northwood University with a degree in automotive marketing, he jokingly notes during a Wards interview.
His focus on speed spurred fusionZONE to recently launch FastRing and FastPrice. These lead-generation tools enable dealers to quickly generate competitive pricing on prospective customers’ computer or mobile-device screens and contact them in under six seconds.
He advocates upfront digital pricing to meet modern customer expectations.
“The days of car dealers withholding prices from potential customers are in the past,” he says. “When the consumer requests pricing online, they want that information fast. Unfortunately, many potential customers will leave a dealership website because they had to wait too long, or never received the information at all and went elsewhere.”
FastPrice gives customers a “no haggle” price in two clicks. The customer chooses a vehicle, clicks the “get today’s best price button,” and fills out a short contact form. Notifying customers that they’re just two clicks away helps because “they like to know they are close,” Sutherlin says.
Behind the scenes, FastPrice crunches the numbers according to the dealer’s pricing structure, displays the best price and sends the dealer the lead.
FastRing integrates with third-party applications creating instant connections from any lead source.
fusionZONE manages search-engine optimization, social-media marketing and pay-per-click campaigns on more than 4,000 dealer websites, microsites and landing pages in the U.S. and Canada.