Without his tech-savvy 20-year-old son's input, it's unlikely that used car salesman Dani Levi would be using a mobile app to move inventory. But that he is.
Yossi Levi says he practically grew up at his dad's business, Dani's Auto Sales in Philadelphia. And today, in addition to studying finance and marketing at Temple University, he's in charge of "all the marketing and anything to do with advertising" for the family business.
The younger Levi says the idea for creating a car sales app came to him when he stumbled across a Facebook ad for Conduit, a company that offers DIY tools to enable individuals and businesses to create their own apps and mobile websites. "I always look for new and fresh opportunities, and this was something no other dealers in the area had," Levi says.
Using the Conduit tools, he built a mobile app that customers can install on their iPhones and Androids. It offers the dealership's entire current inventory, coupons and discounts, a credit application function, a widget for inquiring about particular cars, and other information about the dealership.
Levi launched the app in late December and began promoting it every way he could think of. He mentioned it in ads, made it available for download from the company website, and hawked it on Dani's Facebook and Twitter pages. In 6 months, 1,000 customers installed it. Levi says people started coming to the car lot with the app on their phones ready to use the coupons it offered. Others just downloaded it because they thought it was cool, he says. Of course not every customer is going to bother with a mobile app: "People over 50 aren't going to download it," he says, but adds, "I'm not talking just 20s though, it's not only younger people [using it] at all."
One challenge was how to make sure customers keep the app even after they buy a car, so that next time they go car shopping or want to refer a friend, they can tap it again. Levi's solution: "People love seeing pictures of nice cars," he says. So he integrated a rotating Instagram album of exotic and high-end cars on the lot into the app. "We're definitely getting more customers and more exposure," he says.
In fact, Levi has become such an evangelist for mobile apps that he started a sideline as a Conduit reseller, using their tools to help other Philadelphia-area businesses. He has built apps for a bar, a real estate company, a spa, a frozen yogurt shop, another car dealer, and a clothing store.
"You have to put it out there, but utilizing an app the right way can really help your business," he says. "People spend three hours a day on their smartphones. I see this as a competitive advantage."