2011 eShopper Automotive Experience Study

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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

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