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Ron Henson

Ron Henson Director, Dealership Strategy & Development

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Internet Lead Response, Inspect what you Expect

In my capacity at DrivingSales I get the opportunity to analyze the Internet Lead Response Process of many dealers.  The results certainly are varied and surprises pop up almost daily.  These surprises are often received less than favorably by the dealer and understandably so.  Dealer Principals and General Managers are confident that their process and response times are solid, that is until they see some actual results.

Yesterday I took a random sampling of the last 10 Process Analysis Reports that I prepared for dealers and there are certainly some trends that jump out very quickly.  7 of the 10 were completed while talking to the DP's and GM's at the NADA convention and the remaining 3 were completed just before.  

Take a look at some of these statistics:

  • Average response time (not including auto responders) ~ 11 hours  I think it's important to note that I removed the 4 dealerships that didn't respond at all in order to not completely skew the numbers.  Ouch!
  • # of responses that contained an answer to a specific question that was asked ~ 1      How are your prospects reacting when they submit a question via your website, a specific question, and the response they get in return is, "Let me know if you have any questions."  Hello, Mcfly!?!  I don't know about you, but if businesses do not listen to me, they do not get my money.
  • # of responses that contained grammatical or spelling errors ~ 6   Now when you look at that number please keep in mind that for the purpose of this post I pulled 10 samples and 4 of them did not respond at all.  10 minus 4 =.....well, you get the point.  How important is a first impression?  I would be willing to bet that you have sales meetings regarding the importance of the first impression.   Did you know that one of the most critical items that a customer judges in order to decide if they are going to eliminate a dealership from consideration is the level of professionalism in that initial email response?

Ok, I'm done discussing the gloom and doom of poor lead handling and the pitfalls that they present to dealerships and the money that it costs them every day.  I'm done mentioning that the disconnect that exists between the investment that the dealer makes in new technology tools and digital marketing and the execution that actually takes place in the trenches is bleeding dollars through the back door.  I'm also done mentioning that over 95% of car shoppers and buyers today require a professional online experience in order to consider giving a dealership their business.

Good news!  The 10 dealers who received these reports (after they stopped fuming) saw a great area of opportunity where they could, kindly and lovingly, coach their teams on the benefit of tightening up these processes.  Benefit #1: Job Security!

My advice, take the time to analyze your process and see if there is some opportunity that your dealership may be missing.  The ROI on the time you spend doing so will make you smile.

Let's move some metal!

Shaun Raines
Thanks for sharing Ron. Same results, different day for many dealers.
Jeff Richmond
What a coincidence! My e-Business Manager and I were just talking about the same thing with our internet team yesterday............the cream rises to the top. Thanks Ron. Jeff Richmond GSM Valley Importrs
Joe Webb
Good stuff, Ron. I recently presented similar findings at the DMSC in Orlando, after ranking thousands of Internet responses. Suffice it to say, we might have well saved ourselves time and looked at a much smaller sample size to show that dealers need help improving their interaction with customers.
Glenn Pasch
Great info Ron. We have found very similar results during our consultations and work with dealers. Many times it is because dealers don't know. When they tell us they have their lead process down, they are shocked when we present information to the contrary. Especially when their departments don't call a lead we submit. Dealers have to allow some of the great trainers out there to hold up the mirror so dealers can sell more cars.
Amy Taggart
Definitely food for thought. One question: was the ~11 hour average just business hours, or within a 24 hour window?

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