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Why Dealerships Are Losing 20% of their Customers

Posted by Clark Rutledge on 11/1/16 7:00 AM
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At any given moment, there are hundreds of things going on at your dealership. Paperwork, sales, test drives, phone calls, meetings, the list goes on. It’s easy to look around and see all these things happening around you. But, what about all the things that are happening that you can’t see? Namely, the customers contacting you through your website — those ever-present internet leads.


Shoppers these days, no matter what they’re in the market for, expect quick results, responses, actions, deliveries, etc. Google, Amazon, and others have increased consumer reliance on internet response quickness. Unfortunately, the automotive industry is not lumped in with industries that offer quick internet responses, if any at all. When those responses don’t happen, the customer moves on to another dealership. And these are customers that are primed and ready to buy — you couldn’t ask for an easier sell.


Studies show that internet leads account for roughly 20 percent of all auto sales in the U.S. That’s a lot of missed sales.


What are the most popular excuses for poor internet follow-up? Salespeople are busy with other things; many leads that flow into dealerships may not turn into customers, what’s the point; and many salespeople believe shoppers will eventually come to the dealership regardless of the response to their questions.  


If your dealership is not capitalizing on these opportunities, you’re throwing away sales. In order to fully benefit from these incoming internet leads, your dealership needs a solid process, a set of procedures, that will turn your internet leads into repeat customers. Start with these steps:


Begin by creating an environment of responsiveness and accountability. Your salespeople must know that although there are a bunch of different things going on, internet leads are an important priority. A reward system in place may be worth your time if your team isn’t particularly fired up about internet leads.


Next, and the most important step, is to layout a detailed plan as to how your dealership will approach internet leads. Items such as:

  • Assign salespeople — there should be a group of salespeople that have the job of keeping an eye on internet leads, questions, etc. It’s best not to have it assigned to everyone, that can lead to everyone has the job, and no one actually does it.
  • Train, train, train — the salespeople assigned to following up on internet leads should be well-versed in the procedures and steps to take when handling internet customers.
  • Determine a time frame of response — shoppers tend to be responsive for a short period of time. Generally, after 20 minutes, that customer has lost interest and/or moved on to the next option. The time constraint should be respected, with strict consequences.
  • Prepare outlines of responses — an automated response typically doesn’t answer the questions customers have. However, a detailed outline is a great alternative. It will send the right message, allow the salesperson to insert specific details, and a section to address any further questions the shopper reached out about. This will also make it easier for your salespeople to stay within the 20 minute time frame.


In an industry plagued by slow responses, be the dealership that is hours and minutes faster than competitors. The simple change of addressing internet leads in a timely manner will make a huge difference in your bottom line.


Other Sources:

Dealerships Should Respond to Questions Quickly or Internet Shoppers Will Leave by Automotive News

While automakers' marketing staffers harp on dealerships to perform better, few have mastered the art of successfully handling online leads by Automotive News

Dealership Increases Sales by Using the Web and CRM to Improve Their Business by Auto Dealer Today

Your Survival Depends on Following Up with Internet Leads -- Fast by Entrepreneur


Topics: Internet Sales, Automotive, Automotive Strategy, Retail Automotive