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For automotive retail workers, the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year. The week between Christmas and New Year’s can represent a third or more of the business for the entire month of December. And during this week, the number of online leads that a dealer receives can sometimes exceed the number of visitors on the showroom floor.
This presents a nice-to-have dilemma: it can be challenging enough to service all the showroom customers, let alone the online customers. But failing to do so results in lost sales. So how do you prevent online leads from falling through the cracks during this busy time?
Planning for an increased lead volume is the key to effectively handling both showroom and online customers. Here are a few tips:
Most online customers like to shop at the same time as showroom customers—in the latter half of the day or evening. Therefore, it’s critical to have enough staff scheduled in the mornings to handle all those leads that came in the night before. If your Internet department typically splits staff between morning and afternoon shifts, try scheduling the majority of staff in the morning. The goal is to contact online customers in the morning so they will be showroom customers that afternoon; as well as to have the majority of leads handled by the time all the showroom customers arrive.
Cory Mosley of Mosley Automotive Training, a sales training and consulting firm, recommends outsourcing leads from the past 90 days to a call center. For dealers with staffing challenges, this is a good option as the call center can identify in-market buyers who want to take advantage of year-end savings and offers. Mosley also recommends utilizing showroom sales professionals, if needed, to handle leads under the supervision of an Internet or BDC manager.
Another option is to hire a virtual assistant to contact the online leads, schedule calls with salespeople and keep them engaged until they schedule an appointment with a salesperson.
2) Team Empowerment
Bethany Johnson is the Internet Manager at RBM of Atlanta North in Alpharetta, GA. She makes a point to empower her team, making sure they have the technology they need, the training on the specials and inventory, and the authority to give an empowered response to all Internet leads.
For Cory Mosley, getting a team ready to prepare and handle a large volume of leads is psychologically akin to going from a yellow alert to orange, or even red. He suggests setting more frequent (though brief) review meetings. Additionally, Mosley recommends having pre-packaged specials and special work tracks set up specifically to close that business, helping to speed the process.
Holidays are a hectic time of year, which is why most people wait until after Christmas to purchase a vehicle. Also many consumers believe this is the best time to get the best deal. Getting customers to come in earlier in the month requires both incentives and reassuring the customer they will still get the best deal.
At the beginning of each month, Bethany Johnson of RBM creates a “call to action” plan that includes incentives with expiration dates. For the month of December, the expiration dates are before Christmas (though they do honor the request if someone comes in after the expiration date). Still, the incentives yield a significant amount of activity; particularly for the complimentary iPads and complimentary maintenance programs.
Other incentive ideas include pop-up coupons on your web site or gift certificates offered on third-party automotive shopping sites. For consumers who are undecided as to which dealer they want to submit a lead to, cash is always a powerful differentiator.
Following these tips will help prevent online leads from falling through the cracks, which will in turn increase overall sales volume. What tips do you have for handling increased lead volume this time of year?