Vehicle Photography Solutions that Work for YOU (Not the Other Way Around)
Earnhardt Auto Centers opened its first dealership in 1951 and has now expanded to 21 dealerships across 17 brands. Being a private automotive group, the need to keep overhead low is essential for driving profits. So how does a dealership maintain consistent sales and continue to grow for over 68 years?
Christopher Kerr, the VP of Marketing at Earnhardt Auto Centers, knows firsthand the challenges dealerships experience on a daily basis. “We worry about how we are going to get it all done—AND make it the best quality work possible so that we shine above the competition.”
Managing In-House Photography
Before working with Dealer Specialties, Earnhardt employed photographers directly. Why not? Dealership DIY photography sounds simple and easy. But, with 21 dealerships and 17 different brands, it became increasingly difficult to manage. Different vehicle brands have different photography standards that dealerships must adhere to. Photos are uploaded across multiple websites and online marketing distribution lists. The staff has to keep up with the quick turn-over of the lot and update the online inventory feeds constantly. Not to mention, not just anyone can take these photos. The staff should be knowledgeable about which views and features of the vehicle will attract customers and increase leads.
Maintaining appropriate staffing turned out to be a challenge. Employing a small fleet of photographers to cover a 65-mile area from one central office, while maintaining quality and brand standards, meant endless hiring, firing and rehiring. This resulted in more time, and money, spent on employee management. Meanwhile, all the other marketing efforts, which were equally important to maintaining and growing the bottom-line, still needed to be managed.
That’s when Earnhardt turned to Dealer Specialties. Kerr explained that DIY was more expensive than outsourcing. Without the services offered by Dealer Specialties, Earnhardt would have had to hire more administrative staff and enlarge the management team, which would increase their overhead. Now, Kerr can focus more on other strategic marketing decisions that will help propel the company forward.
Even for a smaller dealership group, if you have one person who is versed in all the above, what happens when they go on vacation or are out sick? The need for car photography doesn’t cease when they are not on the lot. Hiring two photographers increases the overhead for a very small, though crucial, part of dealership growth. That’s why more and more dealerships across the country are outsourcing their photography needs.
Making the Switch
Earnhardt Auto Centers and Dealer Specialties have been working together for roughly three years. Dealer Specialties became more than just a cost-effective solution, they became a trusted marketing partner. In Kerr’s own words, Dealer Specialties is “not just a vendor, but a corporate marketing partner that’s an extension of our employment.”
From the start, Dealer Specialties was different from your typical outsourcing solution. They sat down with the Earnhardt team asking, “How do you work? What are your current processes?” and sought to integrate with their work-flow for seamless service. Kerr was impressed that Dealer Specialties even attempted to retain current photographers employed by Earnhardt that they did not wish to lose and did their due diligence to bring them onto the Dealer Specialties LiveLot team.
As time went on, Kerr found he could rely on the local Dealer Specialties team leader and text him after hours with problems which are then quickly resolved in not days, not hours, but usually within minutes. Kerr said, “They’re there, as if they work literally for Earnhardt, which we appreciate.”
They developed a cadence and a rhythm working together wherein Earnhardt’s dealerships and Dealer Specialties’ local team anticipate each other’s movements. Kerr found the lot services team to be efficient, responsive, collaborative, communicative, and ready to help at a moment’s notice. They’ve saved Earnhardt Auto Centers time, money, and hassle.
Are you looking for a dealership services team that you can trust and rely on?
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You can also watch Kerr’s testimonial here.