• Stop being a LURKER - join our dealer community and get involved. Sign up and start a conversation.

Used Vehicle Descriptions/Comments

Nick Spolec

Getting Refreshed
Feb 16, 2012
36
5
6
First Name
Nick
One of my many tasks is doing custom comments for all used vehicles, and I wanted to get some opinions on best practices:

Generally, in the first 200 characters, I am putting something like "1 Owner, No accidents - Bluetooth, Heated Seats, Sunroof, MP3, iPod support and more - Bumper to Bumper Warranty til 06/2018 or 36000 miles"

Which, I think has worked well with increasing VDP views across the various inventory propagators versus generic or canned comments.

How important is condition? After the first 200 characters, I try to include something on the overall condition. Obviously, used cars are used cars and they may or may no have condition problems --- I know that used car shoppers care about condition, but can you really satisfy that through comments?
 

skutchhenks

Getting Refreshed
Oct 28, 2014
73
26
8
First Name
Skutch
One of my many tasks is doing custom comments for all used vehicles, and I wanted to get some opinions on best practices:

Generally, in the first 200 characters, I am putting something like "1 Owner, No accidents - Bluetooth, Heated Seats, Sunroof, MP3, iPod support and more - Bumper to Bumper Warranty til 06/2018 or 36000 miles"

Which, I think has worked well with increasing VDP views across the various inventory propagators versus generic or canned comments.

How important is condition? After the first 200 characters, I try to include something on the overall condition. Obviously, used cars are used cars and they may or may no have condition problems --- I know that used car shoppers care about condition, but can you really satisfy that through comments?
Hey Nick that seems like a lot of work to do manually. Do you use a data and photo collection service like Dealer Specialties, or do you have Homenet, vAuto? Usually they will have a pretty robust automated comments engine that you can tweak to suit your style. I think your time would be better spent elsewhere.

For your question, if it's immaculate I would state that but I would leave anything else alone and let the pictures speak for the vehicle. Condition is so subjective, some people might believe a car is average condition and others will think the same car is excellent condition.
 

csabatka1

Refresher
Jan 7, 2013
141
69
28
First Name
Chad
Look into the Max Digital system. It's by far the best description writing program out there, it'll save you LOTS of time, which in turn, money.

REDUCED FROM $27,999!, PRICED TO MOVE $3,200 below NADA Retail! CARFAX 1-Owner, Very Nice. Heated Leather Seats, Moonroof, Flex Fuel, 4×4, Onboard Communications System, Satellite Radio, PWR MOONROOF, FX LUXURY PKG, Hitch AND MORE!

PREMIUM EQUIPMENT ON THIS FORD F-150 INCLUDE
FX LUXURY PKG: FX leather-trimmed heated/cooled front bucket seats, 10-way pwr driver & front passenger seats, driver memory, dual zone electronic automatic temp control (DEATC) air conditioning, black leather-wrapped steering wheel w/audio controls, pwr adjustable pedals w/memory, pwr heated pwr folding side mirrors w/turn signals/memory/drivers auto-dimming function/body-color skull caps, reverse sensing system, AM/FM stereo w/6-disc in-dash CD changer w/MP3 capability & aux audio input jack, speed compensated volume control, rear view camera, pwr sliding rear window w/privacy tint & defroster, remote start system, universal garage door opener, PWR MOONROOF

FORD F-150: UNMATCHED DEPENDABILITY
CARFAX 1-Owner. Qualifies for CARFAX Buyback Guarantee.

NOW IS THE TIME TO OWN THIS FORD F-150
This used Ford F-150 is priced $3,200 below NADA Retail Reduced from $27,999. Approx. Original Base Sticker Price: $40,500*.

EXPERTS RAVE ABOUT THIS FORD F-150
F-150 has won the Motor Trend Truck of the Year® award more times than any other truck.

OUR OFFERINGS
At Anderson Ford, Lincoln, Mazda of Lincoln we offer new Ford, Lincoln, & Mazda vehicles and quality pre-owned vehicles with negotiation-free, no-hassle pricing. Our Sales Advisors are non-commissioned; they make the same amount regardless of your final purchase price. A portion of all sales at Anderson Auto Group go to our 501c3 non-profit organization, Because People Matter. So you know buying through Anderson Auto Group will support causes locally and abroad.
 
Reactions: joe.pistell

Tallcool1

Sr. Refresher
Mar 17, 2014
322
184
43
First Name
Clint
Pictures seem to be the only thing my customers care about.

Time and time again, a customer will call and ask about a feature that is clearly identified in the Description, but not in a photo. A feature such as Remote Start or Bluetooth.

I think that maybe some of my customers can't read!
 

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
3,452
1,040
113
First Name
Jeff
Nick, from my experience you want to hit the hot items inside of that character limit. What are the HOT ITEMS?

Take a look at the first 3 items on this graph...
vast_featuress_most_wanted.png

On average, people want access to their tunes through mobile app/devices.

This graph is from a White-paper full of useful stats from the team over at CarStory. Give up some info and in return you can too get the download - http://bit.ly/UsedCarShopper2015 :-)

As for adding the condition, I guess it would depend on the vehicle itself. "High miles but garage kept and serviced at the dealer religiously".

In general I believe you'll be better served by squeezing in the value build items first while taking your time and finesse to describe the vehicles condition. Can you satisfy the shopper through your written words?

Readers always say "the book was better than the movie". Of course it is, your imagination due to more written words are used to describe that particular scene.

As for automatic description builders.. I have a few dealers using SmartComments by PureCars. I've caught myself several times asking the dealer who wrote that vehicle comment? Forgetting they use an automated service.

I would write all the custom comments at my last dealer stint (40-60 high-end, luxury used cars). I took pride and would have some fun with it. When you take the time to formulate some great descriptions, you really get to know your inventory. That's an advantage when you have a customer on the phone or in front of you.

I can recall MANY times I would overhear a customer ask a sales rep "who wrote the short story on this vehicle? They were very descriptive and convincing". Make them entertaining enough to where your sales team and managers actually go out of their way to read each and every one... they too get to know the inventory.

Something you could try... (this is dependent upon your people) have each used car sales reps take turns writing the descriptions. Initially set them up with a template/formate they can follow until they get the hang of it. This rarely works as we know how sales people typically are.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,988
1,511
113
First Name
Joe
Pictures seem to be the only thing my customers care about.

Time and time again, a customer will call and ask about a feature that is clearly identified in the Description, but not in a photo. A feature such as Remote Start or Bluetooth.

I think that maybe some of my customers can't read!
Uncle Joe Rule #211
"80% of all leads trace back to a poor web experience"

Clint,
Here's some thoughts for you, HTH.

Everyone is busy, it takes time to read.
No one reads, they scan.
Shoppers have seen dozens & dozens of pages before they for to your page, they get tired.

You want your website design to understand and embrace this behavior. I like your Popular Feaures box. It's up high, right next to the pics. This is a great start
upload_2015-7-24_6-27-9.png
But, icons require a shopper to think. Almost none of these icons make sense to shoppers. Shoppers scan, so only a few of them will discover the hover over feature.

You bury the vehicle's feature list in a condensed box at the bottom of the page. FYI, it took me >30 seconds before I found it.
upload_2015-7-24_6-32-6.png

Your description box is up high, right near the pics and this is why they call you.
upload_2015-7-24_6-33-45.png

http://clocktowerauto.com/inventory/details/USED/Chevrolet/Tahoe/2010/Columbus/Nebraska/3066253

HTH
Joe
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,988
1,511
113
First Name
Joe

Nick Spolec

Getting Refreshed
Feb 16, 2012
36
5
6
First Name
Nick
I would write all the custom comments at my last dealer stint (40-60 high-end, luxury used cars). I took pride and would have some fun with it. When you take the time to formulate some great descriptions, you really get to know your inventory. That's an advantage when you have a customer on the phone or in front of you.

I can recall MANY times I would overhear a customer ask a sales rep "who wrote the short story on this vehicle? They were very descriptive and convincing". Make them entertaining enough to where your sales team and managers actually go out of their way to read each and every one... they too get to know the inventory.

Something you could try... (this is dependent upon your people) have each used car sales reps take turns writing the descriptions. Initially set them up with a template/formate they can follow until they get the hang of it. This rarely works as we know how sales people typically are.
That's been my philosophy! The Automatic comment builders are supposed to save time, but for someone like me --- they don't. You still have to sit down and spend some thought time by selecting the "hot items" to be inserted into the comments, then optimize the first 150-250 characters that are generated... I type really fast, so it's just easier for me to do the comments myself (since I'm also doing photos, I know the vehicles already). BUT, I am always looking for ways to improve what I'm doing from a CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE point of view: What can I do with the comments to improve the customer experience? Besides just doing what are considered the "industry standard" or best practices.
 

csabatka1

Refresher
Jan 7, 2013
141
69
28
First Name
Chad
Hi Chad! LTNTT!

Wow, you've got a new site!
http://www.andersonautogroup.com/inventory/new-2015-ford-f-150-4wd-supercrew-145-xlt-stock-s15309/

Very nice work! How long has it been up & how's it been going? Lots of cool features, Is it selling more cars?
Joe - Thanks! I've been busy the last 6-months to a year, so little time for forums.

Let's see our new VLP/VDP UI/UX/design came around December 2013/Jan 2014. I've made some small design/layout changes since. The overall site redesign rollout started on out Kia and Mazda sites in April/May of 2014, with the remaining sites and group sites finishing up in Jan 2015. I just finished coding the in-house inventory system in March of this year and currently in the process of fine tuning it and behind the scenes items on that. Working on a few bugs.

Oh heck yeah it's selling :) Overall as a group from email and phone calls only we're 191% higher over previous design (monthly average 2015 vs monthly average 2014/2013). With that and and SEO increase of 162% in same time. Mainly from non-branded searches.
 
Aug 26, 2014
4
4
1
First Name
Glenn
Nick, we've been mulling this question over as well: do these comments matter if all they are is a list of best features that can be found on other parts of a VDP just as easy?

We've used vAuto for years and the button clicking and generating is all well and good, but it's boring! It seems that at every conference and new blog of best practices, someone pipes up about the need for unique vehicle descriptions. I've personally never felt the examples given in those types of presentations or articles to be very compelling.

And to Jeff's point: "I took pride and would have some fun with it." What if there is a way to take pride, have fun AND make custom comments helpful for guests?

That's where we've been trying to figure out a solution. We went a little nuts and decided to get creative with it.

Remember learning about haiku in 5th grade? Well, we decided to plow through our used car inventory and write haiku for the vehicle descriptions of the 99 vehicles that needed used vehicle descriptions.

They're quick to write, funny and our hope is that if a customer happens upon one, it might make their search process that much more enjoyable.

We're not trying to be gimmicky, so I don't think we're going to do many more past the 120 or so that we've done already, but we're definitely interested in leaving the boilerplate, list-of-features-style, boring descriptions behind in search of something creative and effective.

We wrote a blog about it here: “Something to smile about while used car shopping: why we wrote 99 haiku in 3 days”

Any thoughts on this endeavor? Anything that we should look for to see if they're beneficial / working well for customers?