Request a demo

How to Grow a Car Dealership Business

A happy young woman driving her car and smiling at the camera through the window

Recent changes in the automotive sales environment range from the prevalence of online purchasing and new data privacy regulations to diminished customer loyalty and high customer expectations sales and service. If you want to stay competitive, it's game on! 

In this blog post, we’ll cover proven ways to bring more potential buyers to your dealership and retain your current customers.  

Table of Contents


A brief introduction to social selling

Social media logos on a black background

Social selling is about using your social network to find the right audience, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieving your sales goals. Building and maintaining relationships is easier within a network that you and your customers’ trust. 

You can find and connect with your internet-savvy target audience more effectively online than by using traditional sales techniques. Having a presence on Google for Business, LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, YouTube and other social networks are a direct way for potential buyers to find your company. Here’s how to start. 

Get to know which social media platforms your target customers are active on and be active in those spaces. Begin by researching your competitors’ social accounts to find out which cars they’re featuring and get a sense of the type of potential customers they’re attracting. 

Car dealerships often get good results on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram because these platforms are geared toward featuring compelling photos and other visually interesting content. YouTube is well worth exploring if you have the resources to create engaging videos.  

According to a survey conducted by Car, 68% of respondents said they used social media for car shopping in some way and 26% of shoppers said social media directly informed their car purchase. The survey also found that 45% of car buyers used YouTube and 44% used Facebook during the buying process. 

Go Paperless in 90 Days
Our ebook, Going Paperless in 90 Days, gives your business a plan for turning paper-based processes into digital workflows and unlocking employee productivity.

Download the ebook!

Create or update your Google business profile

Multi-colored cars parked in a rows

A Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free service that enables you to create a profile with your location, contact information and customer reviews. You can add posts to your profile to promote events, respond to customer reviews and provide updates on promotional offers and events to keep your customers informed. You can also post FAQs to answer common questions about your business. 

Your profile may be the first impression of your business that prospective customers get when searching for a dealership in your area. When you keep your information current, there is a higher chance that people will choose to do business with you. They'll be familiar with your dealership and have a chance to read your positive Google reviews. 

GBP provides a simple analytics dashboard called Insights. You can use it to track the keywords people search on to find you to better understand how your business connects with customers. The dashboard also shows you the percentage of people who found your business by searching for your company name compared to those who searched for your products or services.  

Make the most of your website 

Your dealership’s website is your digital showroom. Be sure your website is user-friendly, visually appealing, and offers photos and information about your inventory and services. Consider investing in a professional web designer who can create a responsive layout, easy navigation and integration with your business software.  

In addition, optimizing your website for search engines will increase organic traffic and attract more visitors to your site. Organic traffic refers to visitors who land on your website from unpaid sources like Google or Bing, rather than through advertising, events or email marketing campaigns. Digital marketing that focuses on improving organic traffic is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  

It can also be helpful to hire an SEO consultant to improve your rankings on Google and other search engines. Mastering SEO is complex due to changing search engine algorithms, fierce competition for top ranking spots, and the subtleties of fine-tuning keyword optimization. If you want to better understand SEO yourself, Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track and analyze website data. 

Online reviews really matter

Salesperson with a tablet in service department

Online reviews have a prominent role in digital marketing because they influence buying decisions. Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and promptly responding to negative ones can significantly improve your dealership’s reputation.  

Be specific when you ask customers to write a review. You want their comments to differentiate you by describing why the in-person buying or repair service experience is so special.  

You can even invite happy customers to review your business while they’re at your dealership by setting up a tablet in your showroom or service-area waiting room. For example, keep your Google for Business page open on a tablet and encourage customers to express their views on the spot. Other review sites include Dealer Rater,, and Carfax.  

Develop partnerships with other local businesses

Take the time to establish relationships with other companies in your community. Focus on partnering with businesses that supplement your services, such as rideshare apps, stereo installers, car washes and insurance companies. You can find opportunities for joint promotions that benefit customers at both businesses and explore the benefits of reciprocal advertising such as featuring their ads on your website while they do the same for you.  

Leverage a document management system 

File cabinet emerging from a laptop computer

Why do you need a document management system (DMS) like DocuWare if you already have a dealer management system? First, you’ll notice how much you’re saving by owning your data and printing documents as needed without extra fees. You can also print scanned documents directly into the software eliminating extra steps. Share documents electronically so your general manager, sales, finance and insurance(F&I) and your service department can collaborate in real-time.  

With DocuWare, you can digitize deal jackets so everyone involved can find what they need quickly. When you create an accurate, automated checklist that shows when documents are missing. F&I will no longer contend with missing or misfiled forms and contracts that slow down the booking process. You can streamline this process further by using electronic signatures. 

DocuWare also simplifies tracking repair orders and histories and enables quick identification of exceptions which need further attention. It also helps you keep track and close more profitable equity deals through customer data analysis and personalized emails.  Automated task lists and email notifications boost staff performance and decision-makers have a compressive overview of business issues. Forms, loan applications, contracts and other documentation are completed digitally, and you can print only one copy -- and that’s for the customer.   

Secure retention and deletion 

The regulatory environment is becoming much stricter. It’s important not to hold onto documents that contain personal information beyond their legal retention period. It’s extremely difficult to keep track of this and stay in compliance without digitalization. If you're audited and this confidential information isn’t stored securely or is kept for too long, substantial fines that are charged per document are the result. 

For example, when a deal “dies” because the potential customer bought a vehicle somewhere else or didn’t get loan approval. However, dead deal paperwork contains private information. This triggers obligations under the Safeguards Rule of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act,  which applies even when the transaction is not completed.  

With DocuWare, all records that contain confidential information are stored in a secure location and unauthorized employees can’t access them. However, they’re immediately available if you need them. You also can purge files automatically when their retention period ends and keep an audit log of what’s been deleted.  

Improve the customer experience

Smiling female auto salesperson in showroom

To compete successfully with online shopping, dealerships are looking for new ways to set themselves apart and add value to the in-person experience. Today’s customers expect the convenience and efficiency provided by digital paperwork and e-signatures. They're easily frustrated if they spend too much time at your dealership. Meeting their high standards results in stronger brand loyalty, repeat business and positive reviews. 

Using DocuWare, makes it easier to stay in touch with your customers after the sale. Personalization and thoughtful perks offer an effective way to stand out. For example, DocuWare can be set up to automatically notify their salesperson when a high value customer is coming in for a service appointment. Then the staff member can be available to greet them. If the dealership has a coffee bar on-site, you can even keep a record of a customer’s coffee order and deliver it to the waiting room.

Auto Schubert estimates savings of 60-70 workdays per year

Auto Schubert logoAuto Schubert is one of Germany’s largest Toyota dealers. The company sells about 1,500 new cars and 1,000 used vehicles each year. Before DocuWare, a deal jacket, which contains all documents related to a sale, was maintained on a paper in a file that traveled from one desk to another.  

Many departments contribute to and review the contents of a deal jacket to make sure it’s complete before a customer drives a vehicle off the lot. Everyone from sales to finance & insurance, billing and inventory control is involved in the process. If the deal jacket is not complete, a sale cannot be booked. Due to digitalization, questions like whether a leasing contract includes a tow bar the customer ordered, take seconds to answer. Checking whether a contract has been signed or that a loan has been approved can be done in seconds. 

Managing Director Jörg Schubert estimates that an average of ten to fifteen minutes per car was spent searching through paper documents. Calculated over the year, this means 60-70 working days for 2500 vehicles! 


The days of lengthy paperwork and manual signatures are on their way out, replaced by the efficiency and convenience of digital processes. Document management systems offer the convenience of digital forms, powerful online search and e-signatures. A DMS streamlines the buying process to reduce the time a customer spends at your dealership while minimizing human error.   

Forward-looking dealerships implement new technology, explore different approaches to marketing, and provide unique customer experiences and specialized services. Using DocuWare, creates an efficient digital infrastructure that reduces costs and frees up dealership staff, so they spend more time  nurturing relationships with prospective buyers and current customers.   

Learn more about document management.