I've never worked at a car dealership. But as I assist car dealers across the country, I have seen many different styles of management, structure, and process.
Recently I had the opportunity to conduct a joint 20 Group presentation with Joe Webb and Jared Hamilton and Joe presented the mystery shopping results he did for each dealer in the group. Wow, this was an eye opener from some dealers that had broken processes.
Part of Joe's analysis was to review the auto-responder emails that were generated by the dealer's CRM systems. Some of the emails were poorly formed, had missing images, and others had no call to action.
There are people that are more qualified to discuss the best email template designs but I would like to add an observation. The after hours email templates, from my perspective, assumed that the consumer who submitted the lead was done shopping.
I know from my own research that consumers are just moving on to another dealer to submit a lead to get the best local price. None of the after hours response templates created a call to action to get the consumer to invest a few more minutes to get to know the salesperson who sent the email or to know more about the dealership.
My thoughts were reinforced by a dealer principal who recently said to me "Brian, with all the focus on the Internet, I am afraid that we are forgetting that we still have to sell the consumer on our dealership."
My recommendations are not ground breaking ideas, but they service as a reminder since many dealers have not taken action.
All dealership sales professionals should have a positive, energetic, and well made video resume that they can link, not include, in their auto-responder email. Dealers should also create a YouTube channel of customer review videos that they can reference in the email.
Here are some lines that could be added to typical after hours email templates that tell the consumer that they will be contacted the following day:
Dear (customer name),
I know you have many choices where you can purchase a car so I would like to ask you to take one more minute to learn more about me and how I will handle your questions and respond to your online request. I invite you to view my video resume: (link). I would also encourage you to hear what other local residents have said about buying a car from our dealership. Take a minute to view the (dealership name) Customer Video Channel: (link).
This gives the consumer the option to re-visit your website and let your passion and the passionate testimonials of your clients win their attention.
I would also suggest that your email provide a link to your current specials. You have to be careful on how many links you include in an email for spam filtering, but TEST adding links to important pages on your website.
These links are more important than fancy photos, logos, or other elements that could trigger a spam flag. Also, take time to test all your emails against free spam checkers.
You will be surprised how much you can increase delivery and open rates by eliminating words like "amazing", "awesome","unbelievable" and innocent words like "save", "discounts", and "huge". To test your email template, try this free site: Email Spam Checker
So, use video assets to engage potential customers when they are shopping after hours or during the day where video can tell a more passionate story than any email can hope to convey.
Keep in mind that video testimonials do not have to be polished. The more raw they are the more believable they will be. Let your customers sell for you. Linking your testimonial channel in your email templates will build brand value after hours!