“Since installing TrueLook, we are selling an additional 30-40 cars a month online.”
– Bill Marsh, Jr., Bill Marsh Family Auto Mall
Bill Marsh Auto, Northern Michigan’s largest Automotive dealer, was founded over 20 years ago in Traverse City, MI. Bill Marsh Auto’s success has been based fundamentally on the dealership’s cutting edge customer service, which makes the experience of buying a new car and owning it throughout years of service a fun, easy, and positive experience for it’s customers.
Since then, the Bill Marsh Family Automotive group has grown into Northern Michigan’s largest dealer of new and used cars. With three separate facilities for sales, plus a service center, body shop, detailing center, and a quick oil change shop including a full service restaurant, Bill Marsh offers customers a uniquely fun and satisfying car buying experience. As the industry leader in “one price” car selling, customers enjoy a low pressure, hassle free car purchase experience both online and at the dealership.
Bill Marsh Auto recognized the increasing role being played by the Internet in auto sales. While thousands of satisfied customers in the Traverse City area already knew of Bill Marsh’s success, many more potential customers who are unsatisfied with their local dealer, or without a local dealer at all have turned to the Internet to purchase their vehicle. Bill Marsh decided to capitalize on the opportunity these customers present by expanding the dealership’s presence to include marketing and selling online. As the dealership began to investigate its options for creating a web presence it became clear that creating a Web site that would offer the same level of customer service that the dealership had built its reputation on would not be a simple task.
From the moment they set foot on the lot, visitors to the Bill Marsh dealership understand and experience huge selection, impeccable service and facilities, and excellent pricing. Bill Marsh needed a way to clearly communicate these advantages to customers who were not on their lot, but on their Web site.
The internet team at Bill Marsh Auto chose industry-leading TrueLook network webcam management software solution to allow web shoppers located anywhere in the world to “look where they like”, live at the actual Bill Marsh showroom and auto lot in Michigan. TrueLook provides a visual interface for Internet users to take control of telerobotic cameras installed around the facility. Dean Rose, the director of marketing strategy for the company says, “shoppers can do everything on our Web site that they can do here except actually kick the tires.” Using only an ordinary browser and mouse, users can view the cars for sale, the service facility, and more by moving the cameras and focusing in on whatever they wish to see – including car pricing that is clearly marked on the windshield of every car.
In addition, TrueLook includes a powerful set of software features that BillMarsh uses to serve customer needs and increase sales. This unique service provides tools for seamless control of multiple cameras, allowing Bill Marsh to showcase its entire selection of new cars to every Web site visitor, and giving the customer the ability to look at any part of the selection that they choose without needing to update their website. Customers can check out the dealership’s inventory, save photos of the cars that interest them and save or email their photos using the patented LIVEcard feature, which allows anyone using the system to e-mail a photo along with a text message to the dealership or to a friend who might be interested. Customers use LIVEcards to collaborate on purchases and make decisions faster, or to request further information about a particular car. “we [find] that people walk into the dealership with pictures printed out of the car they want. That makes it a little bit more easy to sell,” said Rose.
The LIVEcard photo provides a direct link back to the live camera that took the original image, allowing Bill Marsh customers to build web traffic for them. Finally, all of the LIVEcard e-mail addresses are collected to order to allow Bill Marsh Auto to do very direct, targeted marketing campaigns to interested customers.
Since implementing TrueLook Bill Marsh’s Web-based sales have jumped from about seven cars per month to more than 40 cars per month. Its reach has expanded from northern Michigan to as far as Florida and new Mexico, and even to overseas military personnel. Traffic to the company’s Web site has also seen an uptick: More than 65 percent of its customers have visited the Web site before coming in, and about 60 percent of those have used the camera. “That’s a huge number, especially when the average age of our customer is 51 years old,” Rose says.
According to Rose, TrueLook allows the dealership to provide customers with a level of comfort. “Helping them know that the car they want is there, knowing that they can drive two hours in the snow and not have the car sold from under them when they get here—that’s a huge, huge thing.”