Are you using the Internet to sell 100 to 700 extra cars a month? If not, you should take a look at the top 10 mistakes and top 10 best practices from successful e-commerce managers at premier dealerships.

Robert Revere, Internet manager for the Phoenix-based Courtesy Chevrolet, the top selling Chevy store in the country, says an effective website, business development center and Internet department helped the dealership generate 380 incremental sales last month.

The McCombs Automotive Group (ranked 38th on the Ward's Megadealer 100) used Internet marketing to sell more than 500 cars last month.

“The majority of our customers use the web to shop before they buy,” says Rad Weaver, e-commerce director for the San Antonio-based McCombs group. “We found that more customers use the Internet than TV, radio or print. The Internet allows us to measure our return much better than any other advertising media.”

Paragon Honda and Acura in New York City sold more than 200 extra vehicles and became the region's certified pre-owned dealer because of an aggressive Internet marketing strategy, says Brian Benstock, its Internet manager.

So what does it take to get great results? First, avoid the most common mistakes, says Weaver.

Here are the top 10 mistakes that dealers make online:

  1. The dealer and general manager fail to get involved and instead delegate to an Internet manager who lacks the vision and authority needed to succeed.
  2. Dealers don't generate enough leads from their own website. There are some great third-party lead aggregators but the most successful dealers generate a large percentage of their leads themselves. They cost less and the closing rate is three-four times higher.
  3. Dealers rely on a website that is not specifically designed to convert visitors into leads.
  4. Dealers invest in the right website but fail to invest in the right marketing, people, process and tools.
  5. Dealers lack an effective online marketing strategy for driving traffic to their site. If they don't have traffic, they won't have sales.
  6. The Internet staff wastes time and money by manually doing everything themselves rather than automating a lot of their processes to sell more cars with less effort.
  7. Some dealers hire the wrong people and get the wrong results.
  8. Many dealers lack a clearly defined process.
  9. Some dealers sell price rather than building the value of the dealership, its people and products. As a result, gross profit suffers.
  10. Dealers who don't measure results cannot improve them.

Meanwhile, Courtesy Chevrolet's Internet manager highlights some of the best practices that makes his store such a standout.

Here are Revere's top 10 best practices to sell more cars online:

  1. Create a detailed business plan with the management team.
  2. Put the right people in place with the right sales and phone skills.
  3. Partner with the right technology provider who offers the tools and training needed to succeed.
  4. Design the website to be a regional buying service for your customers.
  5. Use a digital marketing system to drive traffic to that website.
  6. Utilize multi-media email marketing, banners and search engine optimization to drive traffic.
  7. Use the website to promote all profit centers and to attract traffic to the showroom, phone and Internet department.
  8. Define and implement a proven process to sell the appointment on the phone and the car on the showroom.
  9. Leverage a customer relationship management tool to automate e-mail and follow up activity so the sales team can spend more time selling appointments and cars.
  10. Monitor and measure traffic, leads, response rates, appointment scheduling and closing ratios in order to continually to improve.

Sean Wolfington co-owns, a firm specializing in automotive Internet sales and websites. He can be reached at 877-297-8223.