Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Internet Lead Response, Inspect what you Expect

By Ron Henson on Feb 15, 2013

In my capacity at DrivingSales I get the opportunity to analyze the Internet Lead Response Process of many dealers.  The results certainly are varied and surprises pop up almost daily.  These surprises are often received less than favorably by the dealer and understandably so.  Dealer Principals and General Managers are confident that their process and response times are solid, that is until they see some actual results.

Yesterday I took a random sampling of the last 10 Process Analysis Reports that I prepared for dealers and there are certainly some trends that jump out very quickly.  7 of the 10 were completed while talking to the DP's and GM's at the NADA convention and the remaining 3 were completed just before.  

Take a look at some of these statistics:

  • Average response time (not including auto responders) ~ 11 hours  I think it's important to note that I removed the 4 dealerships that didn't respond at all in order to not completely skew the numbers.  Ouch!
  • # of responses that contained an answer to a specific question that was asked ~ 1      How are your prospects reacting when they submit a question via your website, a specific question, and the response they get in return is, "Let me know if you have any questions."  Hello, Mcfly!?!  I don't know about you, but if businesses do not listen to me, they do not get my money.
  • # of responses that contained grammatical or spelling errors ~ 6   Now when you look at that number please keep in mind that for the purpose of this post I pulled 10 samples and 4 of them did not respond at all.  10 minus 4 =.....well, you get the point.  How important is a first impression?  I would be willing to bet that you have sales meetings regarding the importance of the first impression.   Did you know that one of the most critical items that a customer judges in order to decide if they are going to eliminate a dealership from consideration is the level of professionalism in that initial email response?

Ok, I'm done discussing the gloom and doom of poor lead handling and the pitfalls that they present to dealerships and the money that it costs them every day.  I'm done mentioning that the disconnect that exists between the investment that the dealer makes in new technology tools and digital marketing and the execution that actually takes place in the trenches is bleeding dollars through the back door.  I'm also done mentioning that over 95% of car shoppers and buyers today require a professional online experience in order to consider giving a dealership their business.

Good news!  The 10 dealers who received these reports (after they stopped fuming) saw a great area of opportunity where they could, kindly and lovingly, coach their teams on the benefit of tightening up these processes.  Benefit #1: Job Security!

My advice, take the time to analyze your process and see if there is some opportunity that your dealership may be missing.  The ROI on the time you spend doing so will make you smile.

Let's move some metal!

Comments

Thanks for sharing Ron. Same results, different day for many dealers.

Feb 15, 2013

What a coincidence! My e-Business Manager and I were just talking about the same thing with our internet team yesterday............the cream rises to the top. Thanks Ron.

Jeff Richmond
GSM
Valley Importrs

Feb 16, 2013

Good stuff, Ron. I recently presented similar findings at the DMSC in Orlando, after ranking thousands of Internet responses. Suffice it to say, we might have well saved ourselves time and looked at a much smaller sample size to show that dealers need help improving their interaction with customers.

Feb 16, 2013

Great info Ron. We have found very similar results during our consultations and work with dealers. Many times it is because dealers don't know. When they tell us they have their lead process down, they are shocked when we present information to the contrary. Especially when their departments don't call a lead we submit. Dealers have to allow some of the great trainers out there to hold up the mirror so dealers can sell more cars.

Feb 17, 2013

Definitely food for thought. One question: was the ~11 hour average just business hours, or within a 24 hour window?

Feb 18, 2013

Great question Amy. In preparing the findings from the sample I pulled it was business hours only which means the results were actually worse than reported.

So glad to see responses to this post from Glenn Pasch, Joe Webb, and Shaun Raines who are all experts that I admire tremendously.

And Jeff, good for you for having those discussions! Keep up the good work!

Feb 18, 2013

Here is some food for thought... What is your process for monitoring response times and quality of response. While third party (outside eye looking in) advice is great and always welcome we as Managers should be monitoring these issues daily. Though we may never perfect the process of Internet Sales, there is no reason why we should not try! Thank you Ron for your insight!!

May 12, 2013

Anyone know of a company that I can hire at a reasonable price to secret shop my digital team weekly/monthly? We have thousands of email addresses to secret shop our competitors every month for the last 10 years but I - and I bet they would appriciate some accountability reporting on my team. Funny, while I was typing this, I contacted my accountability manager and discussed doing this in-house and creating a "Digital Report card" that would grade every lead response in detail and followup including copies of every response and phone call/text attempt for 30 days. Answered my own question :) Love this forum.

Sep 27, 2013

Hey Joe,
Shoot me an email and I'll share the "Quality Lead Response Report Card" that we have. Good to see you on the forum and I hope we'll see you at DSES.

Sep 27, 2013

Joe - If you have an accountability manager, you're way ahead of the curve. I LOVE it. We offer a couple of services for our clients and others called TaskTeacher and PriceMatrix. PriceMatrix does the detailed mystery shopping of your same brand competitors on a monthly-bi-monthly basis so you know their pricing, response time, online pricing, strategies, rebates using, etc. This way dealers can stay competitive.

However, with TaskTeacher, we do much of what you'll be doing with your accountability manager. I PREFER that dealers do this in-house, but it must be done. We monitor how thoroughly their lead handlers/ISMs follow-up long-term with their Internet opportunities. We measure timing, effort, content, responses, and more. Every bit of criteria we hold them accountable for is weighted statistically to arrive at a "grade". Our team and software then writes detailed notes describing any discrepancies, as well as words of encouragement. It then automatically shoots those "grades" and coaching comments back to the ISM, Internet Director, Sales Managers and more.

As you embark down this path, a tip that we ended up including into our software...make sure that you keep a historic database so you can notate trends to how they are improving and what specific short-comings each individual has. It takes managing and training to another level. (We call ours "progress reports"). Great job incorporating that into your daily routine. We've learned that it is only when someone realizes they're being constantly monitored (and receiving corresponding grades) that they start following the process well.

Sep 27, 2013

Comments 1 - 10 of 12

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Ron Henson's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Do Your Vendors Deserve Your Loyalty?

    I'd like to have a heart-to-heart with dealers and high-level managers at dealerships, because I am genuinely curious about something. You are all focused on customer loyalty these days, as you should be. It takes genuine effort to earn--and keep--a customer's loyalty. You implement best practices, train your employees, try to keep your employees happy and motivated so they'll provide great customer service, and you demand honesty and accountability when a customer is unhappy.   So why then, do you not demand the same amount of effort from your vendors to earn and keep your loyalty?   It seems to me that I hear dealers grumble about various vendors, products and services on a regular basis. Perhaps the product or service isn't right for them, or they're paying too much, or they have to sign a long-term contract they don't want to sign, or the vendor doesn't provide the level of customer service they want, or worst of all, they find out their vendor isn't being honest with them! ...Read post

  • Your Service Retention Metrics: ‘Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell’ - Revealed by DMEa at Automotive News Webinar

    Free webinar on Thursday, October 2nd at 2 p.m. EST offers a completely new way of measuring customer value, plus five things every dealership can do to increase retention NOW   Daytona Beach, FL–September 23, 2014– DMEautomotive (DMEa) announces the 10th in a series of webinars the company is hosting with Automotive News. The 60-minute webinar, Your Service Retention Metrics: Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell offers a wake-up call for dealers on the service retention metrics they have been using for years - i.e. they are unreliable predictors of success and are not a true measure of the value of each customer – as well as a new process for developing the metrics that will create a foundation for increased loyalty and retention. The webinar takes place on Thursday, October 2nd, at 2 p.m. EST.   “Classic service retention metrics determine the percentage of customers who return for another service visit within, typically, 12-18 months. The problem is: classic metrics trea...Read post

  • The Digital Marketing Advantage GM Dealers Don’t Know They Have

    GM Releases Information On The Future Of Its Connected Car Strategy: “GM is basically handing over development of any app that isn’t directly tied to the vehicle’s core driving capabilities over to Apple and Google.” But The REAL Questions Are:What does this mean for the future of in-car connectivity? Why does this matter for my dealership?Read post

  • Autoloop Introduces Instant Online Leads

    New Feature Alerts Dealers to Best Online Leads in Real-Time Clearwater, FL –  9/22/2014 – AutoLoop, LLC, announced today that its Essentials product now includes Instant Online Leads, a new feature that alerts sales personnel when ready-to-buy prospects are generated from dealership web traffic, in real-time. “As more and more people turn to the internet for car shopping, dealers need the ability to engage them immediately,” said Matt Rodeghero, AutoLoop’s Chief Product Officer. “They are a dealership’s most viable customers because they’ve already expressed interest in a specific vehicle online. If sales reps aren’t alerted to inquiries in real-time, however, they can’t follow up…and the sale may be lost.” The potential sale begins with a customized form that allows online shoppers to easily request follow-up through the dealership website. When a customer submits an inquiry, the Instant Online Leads feature immediately notifies a specific salesperson via ...Read post

  • Gubagoo is a Finalist for Most Innovative Dealership Solution of 2014

    ‘Gubagoo Behavioral Engagement & Analytics Technology (BEAST), and Chat and Call Centers’ selected by dealers as DrivingSales Innovation Cup Award finalist; Gubagoo to present onstage at DrivingSales Executive Summit   West Palm Beach, FL and Salt Lake City, UT – September 22, 2014 – ‘Gubagoo Behavioral Engagement & Analytics Technology (BEAST), and Chat and Call Centers’ has been named a finalist for the DrivingSales Innovation Cup Award for the Most Innovative Dealership Solution of 2014. Gubagoo’s solution was selected by a panel of dealer judges from a very competitive field and will be presented onstage at the 2014 DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES), held October 12-14, 2014 at the Bellagio Las Vegas.   “We are very honored to have been selected as a finalist for one of our industry’s most coveted awards, especially as we were selected by those who benefit from our solution - auto dealerships,” said Brad Title, CEO of Gubagoo Inc. “We look for...Read post

  • “Honey, Get the Camping Gear – We’re Going to the Dealership!”

    Ask yourselves if you are, in any piece of your processes, choosing blind dedication to tradition over functionality. Is there anything you can do, is there any technology available to you that speeds up the process for you and your customers? The meet and greet, the needs and assessment qualification, the walk-around, the write-up – all of the steps on the road to the sale have changed. You may get pushback on this concept from the veterans, or you may be the one pushing back, but it does not change the facts. Your customers will not stand for an in-store process that takes them back 20 years. Chances are they researched you and your competitors online, sent in a lead, scheduled an appointment and found your location all by using their tablet or smartphone. So what might their reaction be to your sales process if it involves a Sharpie and a photocopied 4-square? Think about how the use of technology can turn your sales staff into true state-of-the-art, cutting-edge sales professionals. If you don’t honestly feel that technology can accomplish this, then talent acquisition may be a process in and of itself that needs to be examined. Read post

  • Boost Sales by Lowering Turnover

    There’s one thing majority of U.S. dealerships all have in common: turnover. Don’t believe so? According to the NADA, turnover at American auto dealerships is nearly 62%. That’s a pretty high percentage for an industry that focuses on numbers. When you’re constantly hiring, firing, letting go and re-hiring employess, it can take a heavy toll on your bank account. There’s no need to continue this unwanted, costly routine when it can be fixed, especially when it comes to hiring salespeople. Taking control of your recruiting process is crucial if you want to lower turnover. Sure, it’s difficult to have a 0% turnover rate, but with the proper help it’s easily obtainable to severely lower this percentage and retain quality employees. Hireology has developed a completely complimentary and educational ebook based on research from our customers and the current state of the auto industry. In this insightful eBook, you’ll discover the following: Reasons for high turnover To...Read post

  • Common Sense about Inventory Management

    Inventory management systems should be about helping you maximize profit and minimize risk, car by car and store by store. That’s it. But the problem is that a goal like that can seem confusing. There are so many trendy, overly complex methods being promoted and sold, so many “better and new ways,” that it’s hard to know what’s right. For managers looking to change inventory management software , it turns a relatively straightforward choice into a scary proposition. What’s more, today’s systems have grown to the point where they do almost everything, from pricing to transportation. Heck, there might even be a service out there that does your laundry. Choose the wrong software and you may lose tens of thousands of dollars and the shirt right off your back! The truth of the matter is that it’s not that complicated. Amidst all the talk, the basics remain:  Understand how a vehicle might perform at your dealership. Optimize your price to the market. Perfect your mer...Read post