Three easy steps car dealers can take to win over new customers in the digital era

Jack Madden Ford, the 3rd largest volume dealer in the region, set out to change the way customers view the car buying experience. As a result, they convert more leads and sell more cars. They have happier customers.

Edward Naczi, Director of Business Development, spearheaded the change. He admits to not being a “car guy.” He feels there’s an advantage because he understands the business from the customer’s perspective.

He thinks like the customer and puts himself in their shoes.


Edward Naczi


For not being a car guy, Edward must be doing something right getting these results:

Jack Madden Ford receives an additional 30-40 engaged leads every month from the AutoFi platform representing 25% of their online leads. They close AutoFi leads at 18%, where Ford direct leads close at less than 6%. They hold gross and average $2,300 to $2,500 a car. On their AutoFi deals, they’re making $3,500 to $4,000!

Let’s Back Up

How can this happen when it’s not uncommon to hear people speak despairingly about car dealers.

The automotive industry’s sales tactics have not necessarily evolved. We know people are put-off with sales-tracks like this one:

“What’s it going to take to get you in this car today?”

In the store, customers are uncomfortable when a salesperson dashes back-and-forth seeking discounts from the boss in the ivory tower saying something like this:

“If I can get my manager to agree to the price, is there any reason we can’t do business today?”

The problem is, everyone knows the drill and is tired of it – even the car salesperson.

Wary car shoppers get reinvigorated when dealers break the old stereotypes and talk tracks. They are excited when a car dealer takes the lead and is committed to changing perceptions.

Knowing that most customers do not like the automotive experience, Edward set out to change the car buying process at his dealership. It wasn’t that hard. Really.

Edward has several mottos.

  1. You don’t have to work long hours to make a difference.
  2. His Italian mother said that God gave him two ears for a reason – now use them.

With this in mind, Edward took three steps to help his dealership move into the digital era and get the above results. When customers appreciate the car buying experience, it leads to greater trust and ultimately more sales.

#1. Goal Alignment Across the Dealership

Edward knew that a leap into the digital era meant the entire dealership had to get behind the shift. Sure, car dealers are creatures of habit, and change was hard. However, old-school ways no longer worked. Customer buying attitudes became a catalyst for change. The days of newspapers, yellow pages, and print ads have come to an end.

Edward knew that making a move to digital meant a period of indoctrination and training. He knew he needed the entire dealership buy-in. He also knew the auto industry is changing; they did not have a choice.

You have to meet customers where they are today – not where they were yesterday.

#2. Ease and Convenience

At Jack Madden Ford, customer satisfaction is their North Star. It always has been, but now it includes the digital shopper. Edward set out to ensure their customers have an unparallel experience both online and in-store.

Motivated by buyer sentiment, the shift to digital retailing was not hard at Jack Madden Ford. Customer motivation was already a kingpin in their philosophy.

Using a digital strategy made it easy for a customer to buy a car online. They used AutoFi’s digital retail solution and gave shoppers a transparent and convenient process. Their customers were delighted. Everything they disliked about the car buying experience was solved online.

Do you know what happened?

The customer was excited to come into the dealership and talk! As a bonus, the F&I department had more opportunities to delight the customer.

#3. Website Revamp

Have you ever seen a website filled with too many CTAs? If customers have to work hard to get answers, they click away. Boiling the ocean on the front page can be disastrous.

Edward worked with a small team and customized their website, keeping a frictionless customer journey in mind. He made it easy for customers to navigate the site making his VDP and the AutoFi button a central entry point.

He used search ads and search engine optimization to bring customers into the online sales funnel. Once they came to the website, he made it easy to navigate. As a result, the ROI improved.

Customers can find the necessary information in an intuitive pathway. Buttons that clicked into a dead-end were removed. The redesign made it easy to pick out a car and complete the online experience. Customers we funneled to the finish line, step-by-step.

It worked.




Digital Retailing Improves F&I

With AutoFi’s platform on Jack Madden Ford’s website, customers seamlessly move along the buying journey. A salesperson receives AutoFi leads that include more context and therefore open another opportunity to interact with the online shopper ensuring both a high-touch and digital experience.

A convenient pathway helps customers self-select a car, determine an ideal payment, value their trade-ins, add aftermarket products, and receive a lending decision within ninety seconds.

Are you worried AutoFi will replace the F&I job?

Edward says, “No, no, AutoFi augments the F&I role by giving another opportunity to sell after-market products.”

Buy a car in minutes, not hours? No gimmicks? Real, solid offers of credit? Wow.

Now we’re talking!

Welcome to the digital retail revolution! Thanks, Edward and Jack Madden Ford for leading the way.

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