While I was at the NADA Convention in New Orleans this past weekend, the biggest news I heard was the announcement by General Motors (GM) that they plan to close 400 dealerships yearly until 2012.  According to Left Lane News, the company hasn’t decided what will determine which dealerships will be shut down, but “the automaker will base its decision on the age of the dealership, location, volume, and customer satisfaction.”

This is scary.  Not only do GM dealerships have to worry about having to close their doors because of the down economy and lack of sales, but it appears as though they will also have to worry about being shut down by their OEM.  While GM may not say so, you know that if your dealership can remain profitable and move more metal for your OEM than your competitors are, your chances of being shut down are drastically reduced.  If your dealership wants to increase the number of cars you sell, you need to make sure you can be found where your customers are looking: online.

Your dealership NEEDS to have an EFFECTIVE website.  Your customers are using the Internet to find their next vehicle; in fact, 80% of new vehicle buyers use search engines while researching their purchase.  If you don’t have a dealership website, you are missing out on 80% of potential sales.

Not only do you need a site, you need one that ranks well in search engine results.  Since only 10% of Google users ever click onto the second page of search results, if your website doesn’t appear on the first page, you’re missing out on 90% of potential sales.  42% of Google users will click on the first listing, so just being on the first page isn’t always enough.  You need to be at the top.

Sales are becoming more and more difficult to come by, so making sure your dealership can be found online is more important than ever before.  If your dealer site isn’t bringing leads and sales into your dealership, it’s time you rethink who your website provider is.  You can’t afford to lose any more potential sales.