Best PracticesDealership Marketing

How we increased subprime sales revenue by 437% in 120 days

CASE STUDY: Auto Dealership Group Sub Prime Lead Generation Program

How we increased subprime sales revenue by 437% in 120 days

I recently had an opportunity to help an automotive dealer group increase subprime sales. Their goal was to multiply last year’s numbers by 3X.

So I wanted to share my findings, good and bad moves so you can take a better angle on your end.

By the end of this post, you should be able to make your subprime lead gen funnel larger, more profitable and predictable.

Location: Texas, United States

Dealer Unit: Multi-store dealer group, all makes (no luxury, domestic & imports)

I was excited about this project because, for the longest time, I was in charge of taking the customers’ orders, but I could not be the chef actually managing the ingredients!

I was an online campaign manager many years ago, and I very much enjoyed turning an OK campaign into a money-printing machine.

In total, I managed nearly 20 $M in digital campaigns for automotive brands like Nissan, General Motors, Ford & BMW to name a few.
I got to learn a few tricks I can now apply on smaller ad budgets using the good old 80/20 rule.

Although managing one single account like this is not a scalable model for me right now, being able to apply principles helps me create even better online marketing courses on Autobahn Academy.

Everybody wins. I like it when everyone wins.
Imagine if you could turn a few of those subprime leads into sales every month. Better yet, what if you could increase those high-profit unit sales each month?
What would be the impact on your closing %, sales, and profits?

How I approached the problem

For that particular order, I was able to apply the Autobahn Formula, paired with my favorite optimization technique: JITO.

More on that later.

When you have to compete and beat past numbers, you better know what you’re fighting against.

Does that make sense?

Let’s take a look at last years numbers to see what we’re up against:


From day 1, we knew where we had to put our energy.

The group in question has dedicated subprime people, so it was easy to get feedback and adjust quickly on what was yielding the best ROAS (return on ad spend).
As much as I’d love to tell you we have a secret recipe that works every time on day 1, it doesn’t always do. I’m OK with it because when you know what levers you’re looking for, you can optimize very quickly.

So here’s what came out of a very enlightening session with the dealer group management team.
I always have a ton of questions for you guys when I decide to take on a challenge. I need to understand what you want and how fast you’re looking for a result. This helps dictate the whole process.

If you are to build a sustainable digital sales funnel, sorry to break it you, but you’ll need more time.
The good news is, it’s always a good time to get started with a clear strategy.

Challenge #1: “I don’t have an in-house subprime guy or girl.”

If you don’t have a subprime expert in your dealership, it’s OK because there are ways to make the system work anyways. It just needs a little tweaking on the fulfillment side of things.

Funny story, we came up with this formula to make sure leads are easy for our Virtual BDC service to close because we are NOT subprime leads appointments takers. I understand it’s an integral part of your business, but sometimes you have to humble down and focus on what you’re good at.

Challenge #2: “I’m having a hard time getting clients approved.”
You’re not alone. Subprime needs to be handled with caution. Lead generation is only a small part of the recipe; getting loans approved for those buyers is where it gets real.
If you need help with that, I happen to know a few options you can use to increase your loan approval rates dramatically.

Challenge #3: I am in a tough market for credit.
The dealer group, located on the east coast of the US, is struggling with a struggling local economy. This makes it harder for people around them to purchase vehicles.
Because of many reasons, the number of subprime prospects has risen in the past few years.

It’s a challenge many of you may have and will continue to address in the future.

Quick tip, you might want to figure this out sooner than later.

The weak link
For the last decade, I have been helping dealerships generate more sales in whatever department they wanted to boost.

I’ve found there’s a common denominator.

It’s hard. It’s painful. But it’s worth it.

I see another recurring trend. I see the same symptoms everywhere.

It’s not because I’m incredibly smart, I just went through the lead generation planning process so many times I see patterns.

So much so, that I’ve been choosing who I want to work with, and I’m very quick to see if it’s a great fit or not.

The problem I’m talking about here is what I call the firehose syndrome.

When I get onto discovery calls with dealers, it goes a little bit like this:

Me: “So what if we 5 X you leads next, are you going to be able to handle it?”

Dealer: * Laughs* “Yes, that’s a funny question.”

Me: “I’m concerned you won’t. After all, you never did get 5 X the number of leads you have right now. What makes you think you can handle the spike?”

Dealer: *Visible confusion*

Me: “See, we’ll probably outpace your ability to deliver. Then, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you can’t keep up.

You’re going to cut corners, perform less than anticipated, and blame your team for it, am I right?”

Remember when Kim Kardashian broke the internet, well, there’s such a thing as breaking a dealership with too many leads.

I know it sounds funny, but it’s true nonetheless.

For optimal digital campaign success, you have to match the input & output of customer acquisition activities purposely.

Once it’s achieved, you can dial up the spend/stream a few digits at a time.

Much like a car with too much power and no traction, too many leads are useless if you don’t know how to make it stick.

This is the lead generation clutch effect.

Read the full CASE STUDY: Auto Dealership Group Sub Prime Lead Generation Program on our blog.

I've been in the automotive business my whole life. I have an unconditional love for the automotive industry. Email us at [email protected] fo...

Marc Lavoie

3rd Base Coach
Jan 3, 2019
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