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Ron Henson

Ron Henson Director, Dealership Strategy & Development

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Quick Response vs Quality Response

One of the popular buzzwords (It's actually 2 words) in the industry when it comes to Internet Sales is "Response Time."  Oftentimes dealers fall into the trap of thinking that managing their response times on Internet Leads is the Holy Grail of Digital Operations.  I was chatting with a dealer recently who was frustrated because they had worked very hard to reduce their response time from an average of 5 hours 35 mins (YIKES!) to 25 minutes.  While 25 minutes is certainly respectable, and a massive improvement from where they were before, it is not anywhere near a best practice benchmark.  Anyway, the dealer was frustrated that the improved response time had not had a measureable effect on their conversion percentage to appointments.  So he and I began to dig a little deeper into what was going on.

Over the next couple of days the dealer and I started to take a look at what was going on in his CRM.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  I have the dealer's authorization to publish these responses as long as I don't divulge the dealership's name or location.  That disclosure gives you a pretty good idea as to the nature of the responses you are about to see.  (responses are word for word including typos and grammar)

Question: What is the "out the door" price on this pre-owned 2010 Civic? 

  • The price isn't important unless you're paying cah which I sure you not.  How much down?

Question: Do you offer financing for people with credit problems?

  • We can get you bot.  All I need is a 5 liner. What are yor prilems?  (WHAT?)

Question: Dealership XXX has quoted me a slightly lower price on the same vehicle and I was wondering if you price match.

  • Dealership XXX is giving cars away to buy market share.  Go buy it there.


At this point I probably don't need to write anything more in this blog post to properly convey my message.  While repsonse time is certainly an improtant and vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to having a top notch Internet process, it is only 1 piece of the puzzle.  Not the only piece.  This dealer was astonished and furious over what we uncovered when we just took a peek into the responses that were going out from his dealership.

The key is Quick Response in conjunction with Quality Response.  

Take a look at the responses that are going out from your dealership and always inspect what you expect.

Let's move some metal!

Ron Henson
Hey Ketty, Interestingly enough, I have found the same thing when I mystery shop dealerships. While this post shows some of the poor responses, many times the responses will evade the question completely. It's pretty good technique if you are trying to assure that your dealership gets eliminated from consideration.
Grant Gooley
Great article Ron! In my experience it's a mix of aspects that create an appointment conversion. Basics are punctuation, respect and timely response. If you don't have the basics, forget it. Providing an incentive works nicely. For an "Out of town" customer that is interested in a used vehicle. Let them know that you will cover their gas if they don't buy the car. With a closing ratio of 80% on internet leads, we were more than happy to promote that offer. The little things that make your dealership different will help convert a lead to an appointment. Remember, people searching online probably submitted a lead to five dealers. Why should they come to you?
Ron Henson
Thanks for the thoughts Grant. I especially like "The little things that make your dealership different will help convert a lead to an appointment."
Stan Sher
Improper work flows (processes), misspellings, wrong email templates going at certain times, overused and common email templates with mo originality, etc. That is the name of the game. It is unfortunate but it is CRM companies that have enabled technology which helps makes the sales professional lazier. I am not saying CRMs are bad as everyone knows I am an advocate of having an effective CRM system and believe that everyone should have one. However, dealership management needs to play a bigger role in managing the settings of the CRM. The CRM needs to be evaluated on a weekly or at the very least a monthly basis. Also, when you get a CRM setup in the dealership, stop relying on just the generic stuff that the trainer will come in to set up. CRM companies do not care what processes you will put into place but are generally trained to have their own generic best practices. Remember, it maybe a best practice somewhere else but it might not make sense at your dealership. My advise is to get creative and write out specific email templates that can be edited or a allow a custom message to be added when needed. Also, check the email for spam. It is frustrating me how many dealers send out emails and they hit my spam filters. While it may not always be controlled there are tools that help minimize that. I use to make sure every email that I install is spam free in addition to the spam checker that some CRM companies offer.
Ron Henson
Here here Stan! The tools are only as good as the people turning the wrenches.

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