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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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What are the Limitations of Texting for Business?

If you didn’t look at your cell phone before climbing out of bed this morning, you’re in the minority. The Pew Research Center reported last month that 95 percent of Americans own a cell phone of some kind. It’s become the go-to source for news, entertainment, and yes, even communication from time to time.

Obviously, the retail automotive industry has been moving towards texting as a method of communicating with customers, albeit much slower than other industries. The benefits are incredible:

  • You can send a message to a customer in just seconds.
  • You can receive a reply within seconds also.
  • Pictures and video clips add real value in messaging.
  • Whole sales transactions can occur via a customer’s smartphone.

Without a question, the cell phone is the best thing to happen to the way businesses communicate with their customers since the advent of email. But using it isn’t the be-all end-all for communication. And what you’ll find is that texting isn’t necessarily the best way to communicate with your customers in certain situations. There are limitations.

Too Much Detail

Sending quick messages is so easy with a cell phone. But if it’s like reading a novel, a text message isn’t the right way to get the message across. If there’s a bunch of detail you need to convey, texting isn’t right for the situation.

Instead, consider sending an email. You can write as much as you need, include attachments, and not be ‘that person’ who sends annoying long-form texts.

Texting Isn’t Proper Enough Sometimes

Texting is great for casual, open dialog. It can work really well in business situations. But when the tone turns from casual to either formal or negative, texting is definitely not the best media to use. There’s almost no way to interpret tone, which can make your discussion take a turn for the worse.

When your tone is formal or you’re trying to work through a dispute or concern, take the conversation to another format. Use email and CC a person in authority as a safeguard. Or, better yet, talk over the phone or face to face so there are no mistaken tones.

After-Hours ‘Ba-Dings’ Aren’t Appropriate

Ever sat at home and received text messages from your boss or someone who is invading your personal time? If the shop is closed, there’s a good chance (though not always) that the customer perceives your texts as an interruption. It’s an annoyance that can drive potential customers to another dealership. There have to be boundaries somewhere.

If you MUST talk with a customer after hours, make sure it’s on their terms. Start with ‘Pardon the interruption’ or something similar, and ask if it’s okay to talk now. But an overriding thought you should start with is, “Can this wait until I’m back in the shop?”


There will be some people who may not agree. If that’s the case, feel free to comment on your suggestions for proper texting as it relates to business.


Mark  Nicholson

I would have to say that texting is only acceptable once a real relation is established, or that the person on the other end initiated the dialogue. But for prospecting, or even leads that are luke warm at best, don't do it.

Vidushi Jain

Great blog Jason. And in my view, this is not just applicable to texting but all modes of communication. One cannot message customers at odd hours, mode of communication should be appropriate based on customer preference, frequency and information included. Thus, there should be flexibility both on customer and dealership side to switch mode as and when required.

Greg D'Amore

Excellent information Jason, especially the part about after hours.  UpdatePromise communicated with 30 million consumers last year and 38% of them completed surveys through our system.  A little more than 8% of the surveys were completed between midnight and 4:00 AM.  The beauty of text messaging, is the customer can use it at their convenience.

R. J. James

Jason... EXCELLENT Info and Food for Thought concerning texting Service Customers.  As dealerships and costumers develop and modify the Rules of Engagement for text communication, I suspect, we will see several iteration of dealership deployment and customer expectations.

Jana Scott

Jason this is a great blog! Texting is the most common form of communication for American adults under 50, according to Gallup. So I agree texting can be a very useful tool to grow your business, with limitations. I agree with Mark that texting is only acceptable once a real relationship is established. This way you establish a clear understanding of your customer's boundaries and expectations. 

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