The Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario (UCDA) heard its members clamouring for a website where they can list their cars for sale, a site where they won’t have to pay high listing tariffs for leads and have to compete with curbsiders. So, the UCDA gave them what they wanted.
Warren Barnard, the UCDA’s executive director, says the response to the late-November announcement that the association had launched a used-car website was immediate.
“By the end of the first week in December, there were 33,000 listings,” he says.
Yes, the listings are free until the end of February 2018. But Barnard is confident that the resulting leads will show the value of listing on ontariocars.ca, the site’s name.
Ontariocars.ca will be as sophisticated as the competition, the association insists.
Syndication agreements with the competition mean that dealers will be able to list their cars on one site and see them listed on all the websites where they list, if they wish.
“We have syndication agreements with all the big sites out there,” he says.
The site is mobile friendly with no distractions such as OEM ads and the like. Barnard pointed out that consumers would benefit greatly from the site.
“Ontariocars.ca is the only site that can offer the consumer the guarantee that each vehicle listed there is listed by a registered dealer, not a curbsider, and in addition to that a UCDA member,” he says.
He went on to list some of the benefits that come with buying from a UCDA dealer listing on the ontariocars.ca site: disclosure of past accidents; all-in pricing; dealing with a dealer subscribing to the UCDA
Code of Ethics and, in case of disputes, UCDA-sponsored mediation. To make sure the site can deliver leads, the UCDA has hired digital marketing company, Index, formerly IndexWebMarketing.
François LaPalme, Index’ VP marketing strategy, says Index is not new to the world of auto retail. Index was the marketing force behind Auto Usagée.ca, the Quebec equivalent of ontariocars.ca. That site is owned by the Association of Used Vehicle Dealers of Quebec (AMVOQ).
LaPalme says his company did the SEO for the startup of the AMVOQ site and brought traffic to it. Most important of all, Index positioned the site to rank number one when a consumer keyed in the term used car in French when shopping for a used car online.
Still, he cautions that UCDA members should not expect to see ontariocars.ca ranking number one from the get-go because the site is a newcomer.
“We are putting in place a program so that within a few months, a consumer who searches for a certain brand and city, say a used Honda Accord in London, they will land on the (ontariocars) page that fits the brand and location.
“They will see what vehicles are available in an area of 50 km.”
LaPalme says that means creating over 100 unique pages. That takes time. Dealers get a personalized dashboard that will help them measure on a monthly basis the effectiveness of their listings and how their sales staff handles the leads that come from them.
“The dashboard will tell you how you can do better in terms of converting those leads,” LaPalme says.
Barnard notes the UCDA has some high hopes for the total number of vehicle listings in the near future.
“Once we get the digital campaign going, I don’t think 100,000 vehicle listings are out of the question in 2018 once we show members we are driving leads to them.”
As for the cost of the effort. Barnard says it’s in the “six digits range.”