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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Lindsey Auguste and Dennis Galbraith

Lindsey Auguste and Dennis Galbraith Investigative Reporters

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Being Friendly Sells

Carwoo launched a new infographic (below) today that is notable for two reasons: 1) it does nothing to sell Carwoo, 2) it provides valuable observations for dealers about what consumers respond to and when they respond to it.

Carwoo rates consumer/dealer interactions on three fronts: price, distance from the store, and helpfulness. When they controlled for the first two variables, price and distance, they found that those interactions the consumer found helpful had a close rate ten times higher than those that were unhelpful (61% and 6% respectively). That is more of a difference than we would have suspected, but the more interesting thing was the words stood out as helpful: thanks, just, need, and questions. Words most frequently associated with unhelpful responses include invoice, come, and make time.

Kevin Bookbinder of Carwoo offered a simple explanation for the findings, "Even in text, it's not what you say but how you say it." Sometimes just being nice to work with is a significant competitive advantage. Couple this with today's news about Cars.com's launch of BaseDrive, and one can only conclude that dealers are going to have more opportunities than ever before to enhance consumers' preference for the store as well as the traditional angle of enhancing preference for the vehicle. Tone of voice is essential to doing that with video, but text messages convey their own sort of tone of voice.

The inforgraphic also points out the disconnect between when consumers engage with online content and when dealers are ready for consumer interaction. The numbers make sense, but the difference is again surprising. From 7:00 PM through the evening, consumers are logging on and dealers logging off in a dramatic contrast. The infographic suggests, "Maybe it's time for a swing shift?" For those with the ability to be friendly during evening hours, it may very well be that profit awaits.

Ed Brooks
You guys know how I feel about price; if you're not competitive, you don't have a shot at the deal. Price is the cost of entry. If it were a poker game, it would be the ante. It's the cost of your seat at the table. At this point it's you and 5 or 6 or maybe 10 other folks. You've made the 'Consideration Set' - the customer's 'short list'. If you want to have the 'winning hand', you'd better be nice to the customer! It's your ace in the hole.
Kevin Bookbinder
Mr. Brooks, Well said- Pricing equates to relevance in the marketplace, in my mind your quote is your online first impression. "Selling cars is about people not price, always has been, always will be." I am thrilled to contribute to effort of validating this truth with hard data! Missed you in Orlando, see you in Vegas in the fall-
Jeremy Alicandri
Even though we are open until 8PM, after 5PM, our call volume drops sharply. However, access to our site using smartphones/tablets greatly increases. Perhaps, there should be a strategy for evening mobile device users? Not sure. But being friendly is a fundamental rule, so I can't say I'm surprised. I always felt if salespeople maintained friendly relationships with their customers, they could spend a lot less time worrying over the quote their customer received online.
Kevin Bookbinder
Jeremy, long time no chat... I'd imagine the clientele of your Habberstad BMW / Mini stores are probably upwardly "mobile" and completely agree that what your seeing is a preview of the MarketPlace at large. Mobile technology is ubiquitous and is slowly becoming required equipment in the New Car game. Congrats btw on the TC council very cool- Thanks for the comment! Woo!
Jeremy Alicandri
Kevin, Absolutely, I was just a conference at Google, and I learned just how rapidly mobile is growing. It's amazing. Thanks for the congrats on the TrueCar Council. It's a volunteer position, I receive absolutely nothing for it except knowledge and a chance to participate in change. I'm hopeful my involvement results in a favorable result for the franchised dealer.

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