2011 eShopper Automotive Experience Study

image of Opportunity sign

If you’ve ever attended a dealer 20 Group meeting, you know what attendees find most valuable: comparing notes with other dealers outside their market area and copying their most successful practices. Because anecdotal successes are sometimes emotional and not data-driven, 20 Group participants even offer up financial statements in order to substantiate any actions they promote.

Because many dealership employees don’t have an opportunity to attend these meetings, let’s call this our Digital 20 Group to share a few good ideas we’ve learned from top performers about handling dealership Internet leads.

This data comes courtesy of our rockin’ research staff at Cobalt with their hot-off-the-press 2011 eShopper Automotive Experience Study.

eShopper Automotive Experience StudyHere are some statistics that will not only drive our discussion here; they’ll also identify our collective opportunities for improvement:

  • Only 6% of dealerships phoned their Internet leads the same day they received them.
  • Seven days after a lead was received, only 11% followed up via email.
  • Two out of three shoppers were never invited to test drive a vehicle.
  • 75% of shoppers never received a price quote.
  • 20% of shoppers never received a response to their lead at all!

Let’s begin with the last bullet and work our way North.

The #1 rule in lead management is rather obvious: RESPOND! Fortunately, the 20% number is shrinking industry-wide, but for those who don’t receive a response at all, it doesn’t matter how we’re trending.

Next, one of the main points of contention among dealership managers is the treatment of price inquiries, and we have seen dramatic clarification on that front lately. Dealers tell us that perception is positively king here, and that perception is driven by our definition of transparency. If we ‘dance’ to avoid giving a price, e.g., telling the client that we need more information from them before pricing, or inviting them in for our best price, we run the risk of having them click to any one of hundreds of other dealerships mere inches away while they’re online. In this realm, Internet leads are akin to voice mail messages; if you attempt to justify NOT giving them a price in an email or message, they will simply go somewhere else.

If your name were on the sign (and it may be), wouldn’t you at least want every customer to be invited to visit the dealership? Of course you would, and that’s exactly what dealers tell us every day. As proven in our research, simply asking a customer to visit your store may put you ahead of the competition. So, do it… every time.

Hopefully, this article study gives you the opportunity to see what other dealers are doing to ensure their Internet leads don’t stay ‘leads’ too long, but rather turn into dealership visitors.

Do these statistics surprise you?

What steps are you taking to ensure lead-handling best practices in your dealership?

image of Jon Quade Jon Quade is a Performance Improvement Consultant at Cobalt / ADP Dealer Services. Jon is also one of the most recognized trainers in the automotive industry, with clients like Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Infiniti, Lexus & BMW. You can follow Jon @quadequick

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

20 comments
autodealers
autodealers

Hi Jon,

The stats in this article are telling. I'd be interested in hearing from some auto dealers on why they feel the industry cannot do a better job with response rates and follow up timing. Based on what I see going on in the lead generation space, I think Jeff is correct...there is some cherry picking going on within the industry.

 

In the Internet marketing world, we talk about the importance of list building...gathering as many names and email addresses as we can so we can communicate with that person on another day.

 

I wish auto dealers grasped the concept that every name, email address, and phone number they acquire  has some value...maybe not today, but if nurtured correctly, in the future, some value will come.

 

20% of of shoppers never hear from the dealer? Calculate those advertising dollars wasted. In one dealership audit I conducted, we discovered that only 50% of Internet leads purchased over 12 months had even been opened in their online CRM.

autodealers
autodealers

Hi Jon, The stats in this article are telling. I'd be interested in hearing from some auto dealers on why they feel the industry cannot do a better job with response rates and follow up timing. Based on what I see going on in the lead generation space, I think Jeff is correct...there is some cherry picking going on within the industry.   In the Internet marketing world, we talk about the importance of list building...gathering as many names and email addresses as we can so we can communicate with that person on another day.   I wish auto dealers grasped the concept that every name, email address, and phone number they acquire  has some value...maybe not today, but if nurtured correctly, in the future, some value will come.   20% of of shoppers never hear from the dealer? Calculate those advertising dollars wasted. In one dealership audit I conducted, we discovered that only 50% of Internet leads purchased over 12 months had even been opened in their online CRM.

Jim Bell
Jim Bell

Mmmmm...data.  I love data and thanks for the info Jon.  It amazes me when I do some mystery shopping how long if at all a dealership takes to respond.  I actually kind of like it just for the reason that it shows that we are doing things right.  Are we perfect?  No, but I do know that we are responding which so many don't.  

 

So many people have contributed to the online message boards different ideas and products, but so many don't do anything with it when it is a proven process.  I'm sure that a lot of the dealers shopped have a ton of tools that they use.  You can have all of the tools in your tool box, but if you don't have the people and the processes in place, it won't get done and not see success in a pin up market this year.

Jim Bell
Jim Bell

Mmmmm...data.  I love data and thanks for the info Jon.  It amazes me when I do some mystery shopping how long if at all a dealership takes to respond.  I actually kind of like it just for the reason that it shows that we are doing things right.  Are we perfect?  No, but I do know that we are responding which so many don't.     So many people have contributed to the online message boards different ideas and products, but so many don't do anything with it when it is a proven process.  I'm sure that a lot of the dealers shopped have a ton of tools that they use.  You can have all of the tools in your tool box, but if you don't have the people and the processes in place, it won't get done and not see success in a pin up market this year.

dealerrefresh
dealerrefresh moderator

Thanks for the post Jon.I always look forward to these studies. The numbers never amaze me but at the same time, it proves how much opportunity there is.

 

It's not just our industry of course. I just bought a new desk for my new office and the experience was below average at best. I've only heard from my sales lady 1 time after my purchase. This was before NO ONE responding to my request from their website so I physically showed up.They deliver my deck damaged and it's taken them 3 weeks to order me a new one and every day I call to have it delivered, they're booked. Ha! And again, not even a call from the sales person to see how I'm doing.  Alright, I'm don't with my little rant. As you an tell I have allowed it to get to me. No need spilling my crappy desk buying experience here on DR.

 

"20% of shoppers never received a response to their lead at all!" Maybe a little cherry picking going on here?

 

"Seven days after a lead was received, only 11% followed up via email" dealers long term follow-up is near non existent.

 

A few threads over in the forums that correspond to these stats. Love to see you in the forums Jon!!

 

http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/f40/how-many-leads-can-internet-manager-handle-effectively-2083.html

 

"Two out of three shoppers were never invited to test drive a vehicle" - I'm sure Jerry can help support this stat. Jerry, if you're following this post, would you find this to be true?

 

http://www.dealerrefresh.com/dealership-email-collection-is-overrated/

dealerrefresh
dealerrefresh

Thanks for the post Jon.I always look forward to these studies. The numbers never amaze me but at the same time, it proves how much opportunity there is.   It's not just our industry of course. I just bought a new desk for my new office and the experience was below average at best. I've only heard from my sales lady 1 time after my purchase. This was before NO ONE responding to my request from their website so I physically showed up.They deliver my deck damaged and it's taken them 3 weeks to order me a new one and every day I call to have it delivered, they're booked. Ha! And again, not even a call from the sales person to see how I'm doing.  Alright, I'm don't with my little rant. As you an tell I have allowed it to get to me. No need spilling my crappy desk buying experience here on DR.   "20% of shoppers never received a response to their lead at all!" Maybe a little cherry picking going on here?   "Seven days after a lead was received, only 11% followed up via email" dealers long term follow-up is near non existent.   A few threads over in the forums that correspond to these stats. Love to see you in the forums Jon!!   http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/f40/how-many-leads-can-internet-manager-handle-effectively-2083.html   "Two out of three shoppers were never invited to test drive a vehicle" - I'm sure Jerry can help support this stat. Jerry, if you're following this post, would you find this to be true?   http://www.dealerrefresh.com/dealership-email-collection-is-overrated/

dealerrefresh
dealerrefresh

Thanks for the post Jon.I always look forward to these studies. The numbers never amaze me but at the same time, it proves how much opportunity there is.   It's not just our industry of course. I just bought a new desk for my new office and the experience was below average at best. I've only heard from my sales lady 1 time after my purchase. This was before NO ONE responding to my request from their website so I physically showed up.They deliver my deck damaged and it's taken them 3 weeks to order me a new one and every day I call to have it delivered, they're booked. Ha! And again, not even a call from the sales person to see how I'm doing.  Alright, I'm don't with my little rant. As you an tell I have allowed it to get to me. No need spilling my crappy desk buying experience here on DR.   "20% of shoppers never received a response to their lead at all!" Maybe a little cherry picking going on here?   "Seven days after a lead was received, only 11% followed up via email" dealers long term follow-up is near non existent.   A few threads over in the forums that correspond to these stats. Love to see you in the forums Jon!!   http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/f40/how-many-leads-can-internet-manager-handle-effectively-2083.html   "Two out of three shoppers were never invited to test drive a vehicle" - I'm sure Jerry can help support this stat. @@thephoneninja, would you find this to be true?   http://www.dealerrefresh.com/dealership-email-collection-is-overrated/  

automotiveseo
automotiveseo

This data is exactly why we have expanded our company to create a BDC/Internet process consulting division lead by Marc McGurren.  We are also working with Jerry Thibeau on phone skills, inspection and coaching and he is a great partner to dealers looking to maximize the ROI of their existing marketing and human resource investments. 

automotiveseo
automotiveseo

This data is exactly why we have expanded our company to create a BDC/Internet process consulting division lead by Marc McGurren.  We are also working with Jerry Thibeau on phone skills, inspection and coaching and he is a great partner to dealers looking to maximize the ROI of their existing marketing and human resource investments. 

JoePistell
JoePistell

Dealer Managers and Dealer Principals,

 

If you think your organization is different and your team is better than the results above, be brave and TEST your team with an outside source.  

 

2 years ago we contracted with Jerry Thibeau's mystery shopper phone service... the results were painful and humbling.   I found comfort when we shopped our all of our competition and found them all to be equal to our poor performances.  

 

Because all dealers in my area failed Sales101, it only makes sense that the shopper is frustrated because it's taking days and days to get simple questions answered.  Any way you look at it, these mystery shopper results opened a new door of opportunity.   Add to this the reward that is given to early adopters (once everyone figures out Sales101, then you've lost your advantage)

 

Important Digital Marketing Lesson

The marketing opportunities on the internet are everywhere.  You can get a new website, spend mountains of cash on PPC, kill yourself writing custom comments, spend big bucks on the newest cameras, spend hours working tools like vAuto to optimize your inventory for the maximum amount of conversions.  You'd naturally expect a lift in sales from all of this awesome DIGITAL MARKETING EFFORT, but, in reality, your growth is capped by the sales teams poor poor execution.  

 

Ad Costs PVR are directly tied to this.  If you don't improve your sales processes, then you can never leverage any new traffic.   

 

This won't be an easy fix.  This lack of process ties directly to your sales management.  We spend lots of time and cash training sales reps, who's training the managers?

 

 

JoePistell
JoePistell

Dealer Managers and Dealer Principals,   If you think your organization is different and your team is better than the results above, be brave and TEST your team with an outside source.     2 years ago we contracted with Jerry Thibeau's mystery shopper phone service... the results were painful and humbling.   I found comfort when we shopped our all of our competition and found them all to be equal to our poor performances.     Because all dealers in my area failed Sales101, it only makes sense that the shopper is frustrated because it's taking days and days to get simple questions answered.  Any way you look at it, these mystery shopper results opened a new door of opportunity.   Add to this the reward that is given to early adopters (once everyone figures out Sales101, then you've lost your advantage)   Important Digital Marketing Lesson The marketing opportunities on the internet are everywhere.  You can get a new website, spend mountains of cash on PPC, kill yourself writing custom comments, spend big bucks on the newest cameras, spend hours working tools like vAuto to optimize your inventory for the maximum amount of conversions.  You'd naturally expect a lift in sales from all of this awesome DIGITAL MARKETING EFFORT, but, in reality, your growth is capped by the sales teams poor poor execution.     Ad Costs PVR are directly tied to this.  If you don't improve your sales processes, then you can never leverage any new traffic.      This won't be an easy fix.  This lack of process ties directly to your sales management.  We spend lots of time and cash training sales reps, who's training the managers?    

autodealers
autodealers

@JoePistell "

[QUOTE] Important Digital Marketing Lesson

The marketing opportunities on the internet are everywhere.  You can get a new website, spend mountains of cash on PPC, kill yourself writing custom comments, spend big bucks on the newest cameras, spend hours working tools like vAuto to optimize your inventory for the maximum amount of conversions.  You'd naturally expect a lift in sales from all of this awesome DIGITAL MARKETING EFFORT, but, in reality, your growth is capped by the sales teams poor poor execution.  

 

Ad Costs PVR are directly tied to this.  If you don't improve your sales processes, then you can never leverage any new traffic."

 

You hit it out of the park Joe!

Peter Kahn
Peter Kahn

 @JoePistell 

Thanks Joe,

Very well stated.

This is all about the basics; communicating effectively with your customer and sadly, many stores are lacking. We have done telephone shops as well and similar problems exist. If the store doesn't have a good process for communicating with Internet customers, the same is often true for phone-ups and walk-ons.

You are so right about Sales101. If someone is expressing interest in a particular vehicle, doesn't it make sense to offer them a chance to drive it? In the most recent eShopper study, only 3 out of 10 stores who sent a response, offered a test drive. What was everyone else expecting the shopper to do? I'll tell you: "Call me", "Send an email if you have any questions", "Hope to hear from you soon". You get the point. If you have done a good job informing the shopper, take the opportunity to invite them in. Remember, if you don't, someone else will.

autodealers
autodealers

@JoePistell " [QUOTE] Important Digital Marketing Lesson The marketing opportunities on the internet are everywhere.  You can get a new website, spend mountains of cash on PPC, kill yourself writing custom comments, spend big bucks on the newest cameras, spend hours working tools like vAuto to optimize your inventory for the maximum amount of conversions.  You'd naturally expect a lift in sales from all of this awesome DIGITAL MARKETING EFFORT, but, in reality, your growth is capped by the sales teams poor poor execution.     Ad Costs PVR are directly tied to this.  If you don't improve your sales processes, then you can never leverage any new traffic."   You hit it out of the park Joe!

Peter Kahn
Peter Kahn

 @JoePistell  Thanks Joe, Very well stated. This is all about the basics; communicating effectively with your customer and sadly, many stores are lacking. We have done telephone shops as well and similar problems exist. If the store doesn't have a good process for communicating with Internet customers, the same is often true for phone-ups and walk-ons. You are so right about Sales101. If someone is expressing interest in a particular vehicle, doesn't it make sense to offer them a chance to drive it? In the most recent eShopper study, only 3 out of 10 stores who sent a response, offered a test drive. What was everyone else expecting the shopper to do? I'll tell you: "Call me", "Send an email if you have any questions", "Hope to hear from you soon". You get the point. If you have done a good job informing the shopper, take the opportunity to invite them in. Remember, if you don't, someone else will.

JoePistell
JoePistell

Just another tip from your 'ol Uncle Joe

JoePistell
JoePistell

Just another tip from your 'ol Uncle Joe

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