Fruit flies are pests that are found in homes, restaurants and grocery stores - anywhere there is fresh produce present. They are attracted to rotting or fermenting fruit on which to feed and lay their eggs, and they are relentless and near impossible to get rid of once they have found a home.
Fruit Flies Everywhere!
Several years ago, I noticed that I was increasingly trying to shoo these pests away from my face at meals, or just walking through my kitchen every day. The fruit fly situation became unbearable. I made several trips to the store to purchase flying insect killer. I purchased several brands, and they all seemed to take care of the problem at varying degrees. I would then spend the next few minutes cleaning up the mess of dead fruit flies and foul smelling insect killer.
Well, this went on for days. Every day, I would arrive home, spray with vigorous purpose and clean the mess - only to have to do it again, day in and day out. After a week or so, I realized that I needed to find the source. I cleaned out every cabinet drawer, cleaned out inside and behind all of the major appliances and hung flypaper from the ceiling. No matter what I did, the fruit flies persisted. I think I even heard them laughing at me at one point.
One day, while preparing for a family get-together, I opened the china cabinet to retrieve our rarely used fine china. I was immediately hit with the odor of fermented fruit and a swarm of newly hatched fruit flies. What I soon discovered was that the lady of the house (at the time) had gone to her father’s house several weeks before and picked a basket full of kumquats. They were placed in a vase that she then beautifully displayed in the china cabinet. I had found the source of the flies. As soon as I removed the vase, the fruit flies disappeared.
Fruit Flies in the Internet Department
The lesson here is not a small one. If there is a persistent issue, don’t just treat the symptoms. Instead, identify the source of the problem and remove it. The symptoms will resurface time and time again if the source remains.
Case in point, I had a call with a dealer recently who loved the idea of a Virtual BDC. He loved the alerts he received and the information contained within those alerts. He was excited about the reporting and the customer comments that were brought to his attention. Most importantly, he was thrilled with the fact that his Virtual BDC scheduled four times as many appointments as his current Internet Department staff did.
The thing he didn’t love was his Internet Manager’s constant complaints. He claimed that although the Virtual BDC scheduled four times more appointments, the show rate was low and the closing rate for Internet leads was averaging just below six percent, “like always.”
So I did some investigating and kindly reported my findings.
I discovered that the store’s closing percentage had been trending down over the course of the previous few months, only to even out at six percent once the Virtual BDC began making calls. It seemed to me that the Virtual BDC was treating the symptoms of a larger problem because the dealership was merely maintaining the closing percentage, not treating the source, thereby increasing it.
Anyone who knows me knows that my goal is to increase closing, not to level it out or maintain it. For this dealer, even though there was a drastic increase in the amount of appointments scheduled, we didn’t see the increased closing rates that we would have expected. This prompted my next question to the Internet Manager. “Do you confirm the appointments you set?” His answer was, “Of course I do. I want to make sure they show.” I then asked, “Do you confirm the appointments that are set by the Virtual BDC? “ He said, “No, I don’t have time to confirm all of those appointments, they don’t show anyway.” In this case, the Virtual BDC was treating the symptom by increasing the number of appointments just enough to stop the downward trend of the closing percentage, even without confirmation. Imagine what they would have sold, if only they would have taken the time to confirm ALL of their appointments.
Another finding was that the dealership’s average response time for Internet leads was six hours! When I addressed this issue, the response from the Internet Manager was that my information was wrong and that they respond to everyone within minutes of the lead arriving. Without the ability to track this statistic in the past, I asked him how he knew that, and his response was, “I just know.”
How Long Will You Just Use Insect Spray?
Where there is smoke, there is fire. Based on the Internet Manager’s response and demeanor, I knew that the long response times and low closing rates was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the processes and tracking procedures in his department.
In each scenario, the Virtual BDC was the insect spray, treating the symptoms, and temporarily remedying the issue. However, it seemed that the Internet Manager was the source. Not willing to accept the fact that his shortcomings were now exposed, and certainly not willing to accept the help, I am afraid that the downward trend will continue.
I wish I could say that there was a happy ending to this story. That remains to be seen. I can say that unless this dealer can make the choice to identify and eliminate the source, I anticipate that he will continue to have problems with his fruit flies.