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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Pricing for a Dealership Website

Take a look around the web and you'll see an unbelievable range of pricing for auto dealer websites. It's no surprise - you get hundreds or thousands of companies and you're bound to be all over the map. Of course a small company who builds websites in their spare time is going to charge less than another company who focuses strictly on car dealers. Why? I believe the answer is a simple concept. For some reason a lot of auto dealers we talk to don't seem to get it right off.

The reason is a matter of simple economics. I see a lot of web design "companies" that are nothing more than one person building and promoting all sorts of site design in their spare time. The usual situation is one in which a person has a full time job and relies almost exclusively on referrals from existing customers and also the "friend of a friend" scenario. In this situation there is no real need to grow the business; it's merely a hobby. This means no money needed for marketing, development, a sales force, an office, etc. When these typical business needs aren't present, of course the profit margins increase and voila, you have an inexpensive website product to offer. This isn't always a bad thing, but we see a lot of these providers who just don't care about having a good product. Of course there are larger companies that produce good looking sites but lack the essential features to make your internet marketing a success. I'd say the majority of car dealers still haven't been educated on what makes a good site vs. a bad site.

It all boils down to value. Suppose I go to a car dealer and ask how much his BMW costs. Let's say they quote me $25,000. If I tell the dealer that another dealer down the street has "a car" for $5000, we all know what the first question would be from them: "Well is it the same BMW?" This example sounds absurd, but we run into the same thing with a lot of dealers who call in. "Company X only charges this amount and you want to charge your amount." Car dealer websites probably have as much variety as the vehicles on the road, so we constantly have the apples to oranges discussion with dealers. We choose to work in this industry where price is everything in the mind of most customers, so taking on the value-building educational role doesn't bother us. When it comes time to make a decision on what provider you want to develop your dealership website, I recommend shopping around, determining what features you need and what features you could care less about, and then make a true apples to apples comparison between the providers who offer the features you need. Your choice is eventually going to impact your return on investment, so it's well worth your while to do the homework.

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