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Do you take your own photos?

Discussion in 'Inventory Software Support & Best Practices' started by mattwatson81, Apr 19, 2009.

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Do you take your own photos?

  1. We take our own photos (DIY)

    35 vote(s)
    83.3%
  2. We use an on the lot service provider

    7 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. mattwatson81

    mattwatson81 Getting Refreshed

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    Thought I would start a poll to see who takes their own photos versus paying a 3rd party provider to do it.

    In these tough economic times I would think more and more dealerships would take their own photos to cut costs.

    Anyone have any tips on how to better take your own photos?
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  2. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder Administrator Staff Member

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    We started taking our own about 2 years ago, and hired the person who worked for the 3rd party company to work in our parts department - she was fantastic! It works out better when the person is an employee and doing it full time - you get a bit more done, and that person is not afraid to point out where a Used Car Manager might be dropping the ball.
  3. Blake Arbogast

    Blake Arbogast New Member

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    Question? We currently take our own pictures and upload them to our Cobalt site. Cobalt then takes that information and feeds all the other providers. I have been tracking how long it takes for a vehicle once uploaded to Cobalt to show up in cars.com, autotrader.com, etc....3 days. I've gone through all the usual step and no one claims responsibility.

    So my question is, how many of you use a company such as Dealer Specialties to host and send your inventory?
  4. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder Administrator Staff Member

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    I hate to say it Blake, but I have yet to find an inventory tool that makes this process any faster. Dealer.com is very good about accepting a new feed and we have them pushing to AutoTrader. I can watch a car be 100% complete on our website and take 3 days to show on AutoTrader.com. iMagicLab uploads to Dealer.com and Cars.com and I'll see Dealer.com have things days before Cars.com does.

    I experienced the same thing when we were on HomeNet. So, even though I can't stand to say a nice thing about CoBalt, I don't think it is their fault. The large inventory sites just seem to be behind.
  5. mattwatson81

    mattwatson81 Getting Refreshed

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    It is usually all timing issues. For example last I knew Cars.com only updates the site in the afternoon, so we send them files at say midnight and it doesn't update till mid afternoon the next day. AutoTrader though takes multiple feeds daily so it can be kept more up to date.

    It's all timing issues.
  6. JoePistell

    JoePistell Super Moderator

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    Blake,

    I love it. GM BASHES YOU for not answering an email in minutes, yet endorses cobalt. hahaha....

    ahem. sorry about that. That's as bright as flying AirForce1 past NYC skyscrapers.
    [​IMG]
  7. JoePistell

    JoePistell Super Moderator

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    p.s. Back when I was forced to use cobalt, I used HomeNet to do all the important work.

    HomeNet Inc Give 'em a call, tell them Joe sent ya!
  8. Blake Arbogast

    Blake Arbogast New Member

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    Joe,
    Hopefully if GM goes bankrupt, cobalt will go with them. Maybe in the future I can co-op my Dealer.com bill.....Hey I can dream!
  9. kevinfrye

    kevinfrye New Member

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    We shoot inventory photos in-house at 4 of our stores using Homenet as our tool, and we use Dealer Specialties at our other stores. Without question, we get better quality pics and data doing it in-house, but it ultimately depends on who you have taking the pics and doing the work. For many of our GMs, this is one more thing to worry about, so they use Dealer Specialties, while our others that are more aggressive, or have more available manpower, do it themselves.
  10. DogbertBH

    DogbertBH New Member

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    Everyone at our dealership wears multiple hats, but I have managed to keep our photo taking hat off my head.

    We use AutoUplinkUSA for our photos. The guy who takes the pix pays very close attention and takes pride in his result.
  11. idkmybffamir

    idkmybffamir New Member

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    We always take our own photos. Because of our very sunny location, I use Photoshop to balance lighting levels, color, and add a watermark.

    When I wasn't using Photoshop, I was correcting photos with Picasa, and resizing/watermarking them with FastStone Image Viewer. Batch feature = :-)

    I really want to have a consistent, empty and well-lit spot to take pictures of my cars. Some pictures of our cars came out like crap even after color-correcting them. We have no room for a studio on our lot. The neighborhood is overly populated and the residential areas behind us are shaded with trees. Auto Excel - Photo Viewer for an example.. it's not that bad, but I really hate the glare and the 20934823 cars around it. We are soon to switch locations, so im praying there will be a great space for pictures or a studio.
  12. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner Founder Staff Member

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    I bring photos in house every chance I have. When I was at a smaller dealer group, they were using Dealer Specialties..of course that sucked. I brought the whole process in house using DeskLot | Used Car Window Sticker Printing Software. Print Your Own Used Car Window Stickers. | Home. It was/is a software that you can run from your desktop. I built a statement in the DMS that exported the inventory into a CVS file that uploaded into Desklot. This program would also export out to what ever service you wanted right from your desktop. Don't ask me how I ever did it, but I would export out to our dealerskins website and even AutoTrader.com.

    Bringing the photo process in house has always been a no brainer since most services take no pride in the photos. They are nothing more than a window sticker business.

    I brought the photos in-house at the prior MB dealer I was at from day one using Homenet.

    Photos were already an in-house operation months prior to joining MileOne. If you want quality photos (the single most important aspect for your online merchandising) it just makes sense to bring it on house.
  13. Jason Walter

    Jason Walter New Member

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    It is kind of a tragedy and an issue we have fought for a long time. It's kind of ironic because when I first took over our internet department back in 2000 I booted Cobalt just to get stuck with them again! We kept BZ and have just limited the ability of our Cobalt site to interfere with our other site.

    What I think GM should have done is like the CRM, have multiple vendors that are approved. It would have been a win/win for everyone involved!

    As for the picture issue as I posted in another post we use our porter to do so. He is a young guy who is pretty tech savy and teachable. He knocks out all our new and used each day about midday. Doing it in-house is the only way to go!
  14. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder Administrator Staff Member

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    Ut oh - another GM dealer who doesn't like CoBalt. :sssh: GM might come a knockin' with an audit :eek2:
  15. MullerToyota

    MullerToyota New Member

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    Ditto. We use AutoUpLinkUSA for photos and basically handling out entire used car inventory (we don't take pics of new cars). It is very convenient to use their feed to feed all of the sites we use for used cars.
  16. john fink

    john fink New Member

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    From my perspective (vendor) and experience (14 yrs) MOST dealers that take their own photos do a very good job. However depending on the financial dynamics ..combined with inventory volume, sometimes it just makes more sense(money and headache factor) to hire a GOOD data feed Company

    Usually the problems with "self serve" start with sheer focus..or lack thereof..of the individual or individuals responsible for capturing and feeding the data/photos. The second issue is quality. If the self serve quality begins to suffer or stops(employee quits)..there is a mad dash to recruit/replace/retrain etc....meanwhile your most important resource(your inventory exposure) suffers.

    I tell dealers everyday to do it themselves...but only if you can and will do it right...most are simply not ready or willing to make the committment.

    Also be sure you choose a Company that is not a "1 trick pony" and can also help you in other ways to help you sell more units.

    Our unique marketing approach, real-time online inventory data collection and inventory management and most importantly, our quality control process has allowed AutoLotManager.com to take over substantial market share not just from Dealer Specialties, but from other national competitors such as Diamond Lot and AutoUpLinkUSA.

    These competitive advantages along with our wide array of products, such as Websites and Inventory Templates, Prospecting Tracking and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, Reward Cards, Phone Tracking and Grading, Craigslist and Mobile technology, provide the best opportunity to better market your inventory. These additional products and services will not only increase net profits but most importantly, help you sell more cars while retaining customer loyalty.

    Also, because of our flexibility - Offering both On-The-Lot Full Service and Do-It-Yourself Self-Service Inventory Management, along with the simplicity, quality control and customer service separates us from our competitors!

    AutoLotManager.Com has a proven successful method and process that works, and our attention to detail/customer service are second to none.

    My 2 cents.....Good luck
  17. mattwatson81

    mattwatson81 Getting Refreshed

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    It's like anything else in life... If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.

    The biggest problem with not doing it yourself is time to market. If you get a car on Thursday on trade and want to get it photographed and ready for sale... but your rep doesn't show up until next Wednesday.... How much does that cost you in lost opportunities and floor plan cost?
  18. Singer

    Singer New Member

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    Everyone is going to have their own opinion on this, and as vendor myself, I see a lot of what everyone is discussing on a daily basis. I've seen great work from our full service personnel, I've seen great work from in-house photographers with dealerships, and I've seen the exact opposite from both. Your full-service vendor must have employees who take pride in their work and feel they contribute to the well-being of the dealerships they service. If they do contribute with great photography and detail work, then the dealer will sell more cars. Or at least, as a vendor, you hope so. If a dealer has an employee who takes the photos, we would hope as a dealer the employee also takes pride in their work, and will be held to a high standard.

    As a 3rd party vendor, I've seen how this dynamic works both ways. Additionally, I see the 3-day upload take place from multiple vendors as well, and it always comes down to communication and server capabilities. Matt's point about Autotrader is spot-on, as is his view of cars.com. Both have their reasons for accepting feeds when they do, and I would suppose sometime in the next year or year after we may see real time feeds. One can only hope.

    My point with all the above is this; the dealer who takes his photos in-house has a reason for doing so - he/she can control the process, likes to own the process, and does a good job of it. Those who still rely on a 3rd party vendor have their reasons as well. We offer both DIY tools and full-service, and it's been more than once I've had to go to a dealer and tell them what a disservice they are doing by staying in-house. If they wish to stay in-house, we do our best to retrain the individual(s) taking the photos and keep that process in-house. The dealer has to make the ultimate decision about the best methods to keep their inventory online and up-to-date, and as a vendor, you must respect that.
  19. CAORYAN

    CAORYAN New Member

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    Matt, I have a suggestion. If you are near a college that offers photography classes, go to the school and speak with the teacher. Ask if they have anyone who would be interested in a little extra cash. You can usually find someone willing to work for cheap and will do a better job than most people you would hire. Have them come in for a couple hours 4 or 5 days a week and pay per car. I actually think that free food is good also if they are doing a good job.
  20. mattwatson81

    mattwatson81 Getting Refreshed

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    If they do it themselves they can have more control, perhaps save a little money, take extra pictures, and get it done more often and quicker. The main downfall is you have to have someone to do it and you have manage that person to make sure it gets done.

    If they pay someone to do it they have more of a guarantee that it will actually get done. That is the primary benefit in outsourcing it.

    At the end of the day, the most important thing is that it gets done. Ultimately that is all that matters. If it doesn't get done, it will hurt the dealership's sales.

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