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 11

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Ron Henson's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Auto/Mate Honored with Platinum Award in Auto Dealer Monthly's Dealers' Choice Awards

    ALBANY, N.Y. – July 28th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com), a premier dealership management system (DMS) provider, has received a "Platinum" award in the 2014 Auto Dealer Monthly Dealers' Choice Awards. This year marks the first time that Auto/Mate was honored with a top ranking in the magazine's annual award program that recognizes the industry's best product and service providers as selected by hundreds of dealers and dealership personnel.   "To receive this recognition is a real honor because the votes for Auto/Mate came from our customers, and this Platinum award lets me know that we are successful in our primary goal which is to be the top dealership management system provider in customer satisfaction," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate.   In May, voters weighed in to recognize their favorite partners in 27 categories. Providers were scored on the product or service itself, customer support and service, value, and whether the...Read post

  • Autosoft Certifies Traffic Cop as First CRM/ILM Provider to Integrate with FLEX DMS

    Autosoft, Inc., a leading national dealer solutions provider, announces that Traffic Cop LLC has earned certification for integration with the FLEX dealer management system (DMS) as part of Autosoft’s FLEX Connect program. Traffic Cop is the first customer relationship management (CRM) and Internet lead management (ILM) showroom-to-shop management software to earn this certification. The certification process required collaboration and development between Autosoft and Traffic Cop, resulting in a more integrated CRM solution for FLEX DMS dealers using the Traffic Cop solution. Autosoft’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Mark Hellbusch views the integration as an additional value for Autosoft’s FLEX DMS dealers. “This certified integration provides our valued customers with a tested, secure, and verified means for further developing their relationships with customers and prospects,” Hellbusch said. Among other features, this integration allows dealership users to send deals from the desk straight to Autosoft’s FLEX F&I, and refreshes the record in Traffic Cop after delivery to the business office. Users will be able to view full customer service records in Traffic Cop to optimize customer relationships throughout their lifecycle.Read post

  • Autosoft Announces New Nissan Integration

    WEST MIDDLESEX, PA – July 17, 2014 – Leading dealer management system (DMS) provider Autosoft, Inc., (www.autosoft-asi.com) has announced that the Autosoft FLEX DMS has been approved for integration with the new dealer communication system that Nissan is rolling out to dealers. "Our goal is to offer the advantage of strong integration between Autosoft’s FLEX DMS and the systems our customers use to manage a successful business," said Mark Hellbusch, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Autosoft. He stressed the integration approval’s strategic value to Autosoft’s Nissan dealership customers, saying, "We are pleased to be approved by Nissan for integration with their new dealer communication system and are committed to aligning with their roadmap so Nissan dealers will experience the most efficient processes possible."Read post

  • Leadership Lessons from a Car Dealership?

    W When I walked into the MINI dealer to buy a new car, the last thing I expected to find was a great example of leadership, but that is exactly what I found. It took a while for my early observations to draw the conclusion that the secret sauce of this dealership was the Sales Manager. This busy, almost chaotic dealership was full of energy and organized. We were approached immediately by a salesperson who was quick to tell us that this was her first week, and she’d just moved from Pittsburgh. After a little hometown sharing (I grew up in Pittsburgh), she showed she knew her stuff. Turns out she transferred from Pittsburgh MINI. What she was unsure of were some Florida-specific/dealership-specific processes, so she checked periodically with the Sales Manager. That’s what got my attention. He gave her the information she needed, but let her work; he didn’t hover as I might expect with a new employee. Long story short, we spent two days with her, traveled to a remote site to se...Read post

  • Spark Additional Revenue with Reputation Management

    It’s no secret that auto buyers are turning to online resources before making an in-store purchase. Today’s buyers are more informed and ready to purchase when they walk into their dealership of choice. This is because these internet-savvy shoppers are researching their favorite model, including options and availability, examining local dealerships to see who carries the model of their choice, and visiting review and social sites to gather other consumers’ opinions to solidify their decisions. Once this extensive research is complete, then buyers go to the dealership to test drive the vehicle. Sound about right? With these types of buying patterns, it is more important than ever for your dealership to make a good first impression. But, how do you make a good first impression on the internet? Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to accomplish this, but today we’re going to focus on upholding a positive online brand image through reputation management of online reviews. ...Read post

  • Stay Ahead of the SEO Curve with Schema.org Markup

    More and more businesses are incorporating SEO into their marketing budgets every day and car dealerships are a big part of this emerging trend. In this new world where people Google everything before they buy, it is more important than ever to adapt with new strategies that set your dealership apart from the competition. And Schema.org markup data is the most important form of structured data that is widely recognized by the top search engines.Read post

  • Is it time for an individualized CRM for Internet leads?

    After working with my dealer for 3 years now I have come across an issue that seems to rear its ugly head quite often... the problem is that my co-workers and managers alike just don’t seem to we willing to embrace the idea that customers are coming from the internet. Because of this we are always spending our entire marketing budget on print ads, "Beacuse thats whats working!" "I have set to see google bring me a deal."  I would like to get some input on my thoughts out-side of my dealer. It seems that we are now entering of not already head deep in the world of online. But the leads that come in via online sources are non-emotional. We have no way to gauge their interest beyond the words they surrender to us in their inquiries and I feel that it is unfair to simply place these leads as part of a dealers active CRM lowering the stats of a dealer. I feel that if possible Internet leads require a CRM outside of the current systems dealers have in place, as we still cannot con...Read post

  • Sometimes It’s Better To Cut Your Losses

    I am sure many of you have heard about the recent customer service debacle involving Comcast over the past week. In case you aren’t familiar with what happened, a customer called into their service center attempting to cancel his service after almost a decade. He was transferred to a customer retention department and, unfortunately, was connected with a person who did the exact opposite. The customer’s patience during this call is amazing. The Comcast representative hounds him for almost 18 minutes (only 8 of which were recorded) repeatedly asking the same questions in his efforts to either keep the customer or understand why the customer was leaving. The customer eventually succeeded in getting his services cancelled, while the Comcast employee succeeded in doing more harm to his company than good. You see, this customer recorded the conversation and posted it online. Since July 14, over 5 million people have listened to this recording. Countless articles have also been written ...Read post