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Interview with Donna Beasley of the Courtesy Automotive Group in Conyers, GA

courtesy automotive groupWe’ve been a bit busy getting ready for our site’s relaunch, but we’re back with a solid dealership interview from Donna Beasley, Business Development Center Specialist at the Courtesy Automotive Group in Conyers, Georgia.  Donna was kind enough to answer a few questions about how Courtesy’s dealerships are adapting to the challenges of the automotive marketplace

1. Donna, Tell us a little bit about Courtesy Hyundai and your own career in the auto industry?

Our company is the Courtesy Automotive Group. We have three dealerships, Ford, Lincoln/Mercury and Hyundai located on a large campus in Conyers, Ga. My response to the following questions are reflection of the company-wide response and not just Courtesy Hyundai answers. I’m actually a new comer to the auto business (1 year), but have an extensive (over 10 years) background in marketing. I started in Sales and was promoted to run the Business Development Center 8 months ago.

2. As a result of the recession, what expenses have you cut from your daily operation? What new programs have you added to your daily operation?

Like all dealerships we have had to do some belt-tightening including laying off some employees. Operationally, we are pretty much the same. In fact our owners have invested in remodeling some aspects of the dealership. We have a new and improved quick lane, accessories store and refreshed the look of one of our main showrooms.

3. Has your attitude towards the marketing budget changed? Has it shifted more and more online?

Our marketing efforts have definitely included a stronger online presence, including improved websites, entry into social media, advertising on online car sites, like autotrader.com. In fact, the web is driving 60% of our leads right now. We still do traditional media, TV and Newspaper but its not driving business like it use to. One thing that is driving leads our way are the car specific magazines like, Car Smarts Magazine and Just Cars Magazine. We have had good success with those.

4. What are some of the biggest concerns you have when buying leads?

Whether there is going to be a return on the investment. So often, several dealerships in the same area are getting the same leads.

6. What are your thoughts on online reputation management?

Its important. We monitor what consumers are saying about us with Twitter and Google alerts. I find some company’s like Ford, are doing a great job of building both their Brand online and managing their online reputation. Some others are moving at a slow and easy pace. As far as our dealerships go, with all the bad news in the car business, its important to promote and build both our offline and online reputation. We must instill confidence in our customers and prospects that they can count on us to be here to service their automobile needs.

7. What can dealers do to adapt as many people start shifting their shopping patterns towards online research and browse?

Our experience is that the shift has already happened. Almost all of our customers, even those that walk-in to our showroom have researched their vehicle options online before they step thorough the door. This includes seniors. Sometimes a customer knows more about the vehicle than the salesman, because they have been researching their dream car for weeks and know every single detail about the vehicle. We have adapted by improving our website: www.courtesyatlanta.com to make the customer’s online shopping experience better, including providing better photos, and navigational ease, we have a dedicated internet staff, and we communicate with our customer base via email marketing on a more consistent basis.

Thanks for your time Donna!  If you have further questions for Donna please ask them in the comments.  Hopefully we can keep the interview going.  You can also find her behind the Courtesy Hyundai Twitter handle @HyundaiAtlanta.  If you’d like to be interviewed for our dealership interview series find us on Twitter @EasyAutoSales or shoot me an email at will(at)easyautosales.com.