Do Investments in Vehicle Photographic Facilities Make Financial Sense?

April 19, 2012

What follows is a thoughtful question that I recently received from Jeff Mayer of Marion Toyota.

Hello Dale –

I have vAuto in both my Toyota and Subaru stores and I had a quick question that I wanted to ask your opinion on.

I buy into pretty much every concept you write about and we use vAuto at 110% for used car pricing, etc. I also fully understand the importance of VDP/SRP conversion and what it eventually means to the bottom line. I wanted to know how much of a difference it makes (in your opinion) to have your inventory photos done in a “professional studio type” setting with all of the proper backdrops and lighting compared to not using that set up and just doing them outside ……but still with a good quality camera?

I have been contemplating this for over a year now but I will have to do an addition to my facility to accommodate this. I am strongly for it if I believe the return on investment is there.

Just wanted another opinion from someone with your knowledge.


Jeff Mayer






Thanks so much for your note, and I apologize for the delay in my response. Your question is a good one. The answer is that the quality of your photos matters a lot. In fact, the quality of your photos represents the quality of your vehicles and ultimately your dealership brand. It’s a proven fact that there’s a direct correlation between the quality and quantity of vehicle images and their online rate of consumer response.

Jeff, the problem is that you cannot quantify this value in any rational way that empirically justifies the type of expense that you’ll be undertaking. For that matter however, there’s a lot of things in business and life that you just know are right, but can’t be justified by conventional tools of measurement or quantification. I think you simply have to be prepared to answer yes to the following two questions: Are you in this business for the long term? And, are you planning on remaining in your present facility? If the answers to both of these questions is yes, then you should go ahead and do it, don’t question yourself or look back, just know that you’ve made a prudent investment for today and tomorrow.