Car Dealership Uses Internet to Net Out-of-State Sales

The Denver auto-retail market is competitive and aggressive, says Jared Pleva (left) of Mike Shaw Subaru.

Tom Beaman, Contributor

June 21, 2016

4 Min Read
ldquoAll in it togetherrdquo Pleva left says of Mike Shaw Subarursquos InternetBDC squad
“All in it together,” Pleva (left) says of Mike Shaw Subaru’s Internet-BDC squad.

Mountainous terrain and snowy weather make Colorado a perfect spot to sell all-wheel-drive Subarus.

The 5-store Denver market has two of the top five volume producers of the brand’s 2015 retail sales of 582,675 units in the U.S, according to WardsAuto data.

Subaru gained the most market share in 2015, closed last year with 3.4% of the U.S. light-vehicle market, up from 1.4% in 2008.

Mike Shaw Subaru, in Denver’s northern suburb of Thornton, slipped under the wire to claim the No.100 slot on the WardsAuto e-Dealer 100 ranking of sales handled by a designated Internet department or originating from submitted Internet leads.

The dealership chalked up 1,512 Internet sales in 2015 (1,086 new, 426 used). The store tallied 3,000 total unit sales in 2015.

“It’s a Subaru market, a very aggressive, competitive market,” says Jared Pleva, Shaw’s Internet manager. “We’ve actually had deals coming in via our website and online sources from South Dakota, North Dakota, Nevada, and New Mexico. We’ve had some deals come in from the East Coast.”

Pleva speculates about 70% of consumers still walk in without submitting an Internet lead, but they still used the Internet in preparation for their dealership visit. “Even if they didn’t submit a lead online, they still went online to search for and gather information.”

He discusses the store’s Internet strategy in a WardsAuto interview. Here’s an edited transcript.

WardsAuto: How do you reach out to markets in different states?

Pleva: To be perfectly honest, they reach out to us through (third-party lead aggregators and search results). The Denver-area market has a reputation for good deals, good pricing and a great inventory of Subarus.

WardsAuto: Describe your e-commerce strategy.  

Pleva: First and foremost to take inbound leads. We try to have all of our inventory online and make sure everybody on our team is up to date on that inventory. We shop pricing for the market fairly frequently, about once or twice a week, to make sure we are competitive.

When we take in a lead, the first thing we do is try to get the customer on the phone. The next step is to send the customer an email with a price quote if we do not have a contact with them.

Then, at the end of the shift, our business development department tries to call the customer again. They don’t leave a voice mail to cloud the waters because we want them to work with their individual associate.

If they get them on the line, they try to set an appointment. If they can’t set an appointment, they refer them back to the sales associate who can answer questions and then try to set the appointment from there.

We do consistent follow-up with our customer-relationship-management tool, which has pretty neat business intelligence. We can actually see what our customers are looking at. We try to send emails that are compelling at the right time when we know the customer is active on their mobile device.

WardsAuto: Describe your business-intelligence application.

Pleva: You can use the system to extract whatever data you want. It will aggregate data over a period of time, such as deals; the number of leads we took this year vs. last year; how many text messages we sent; how many customers over the last 45 days haven’t been contacted in two days. I can aggregate that data and put it in front of my entire team. It analyzes data so that you can make business decisions and supplement your business processes.

WardsAuto: How many salespeople do you have, and are they all Internet people?

Pleva: We have 27 sales associates here, and nine Internet. They’ll take a lead from the beginning to the end of the sale. We have five business-development representatives also in the Internet department, for a total of 14.

(The BDC team and the Internet team) help each other out. They’re a real close, tight knit group that’s been together for about a year and a half. They’re all in one room together, and it’s a really nice collaboration. If a BDC representative takes a phone call, the Internet salesperson can coach them. If the Internet salesperson needs to cut in at any time, they’ll transfer the call to him and he’ll take it from there.

WardsAuto: How do you foster teamwork?

Pleva: We’re all in it together and we’re all in it for the same goal. We want put out the best numbers we can and beat our previous goals. We want to be the best department in our market. We know we’re not as big as some of the other dealerships, but we put the work into it. When I told them we made the WardsAuto e-Dealer 100, they were high-fiving each other. It’s on them. They did it themselves, and they know it. 

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