Best Practices

What Are You Tracking?


Demo to Write-Up to Close or Appointment to Show to Close?

I’m on a quest.

I thought this was a simple quest – but I’m in danger of failing.

My quest: change a common belief from the Old School.

I thought it was simple because the changes to the business over the last 15 years have been monumental, historic, and undeniable.

Some day, we may look back at this point in time and equate these changes to selling cars to how the assembly line changed production or the silicon chip affected computers.

So surely, there would be little resistance to minor shifts in process and measurements as a result of these mammoth changes.


Tracking Demo to Write-Up to Close has always been important – even critical. Our model dictated that the Test Drive was possibly THE most important checkbox on our Road To The Sale.


A look at the industry pre-internet provides a clear answer.

The Dealership was the place where people would come to SHOP for vehicles.  People would arrive at the dealership to see colors, to ask questions, to make comparisons, to get brochures.  If you wanted to know something about a vehicle, you had to go to a dealership and ask a Salesperson.

When you saw that new car in your neighbor’s driveway, and you got interested, you couldn’t pull out your laptop and look it up.  What were your choices if you wanted to see what engine that car has, or options for engines? What are the color options? How much did that car cost? 

To get your questions answered, you had to go to the Dealership.

At the Dealership, we had a process in place to turn Shoppers into Buyers NOW.

Up on the lot looking at colors: Meet & Greet, Qualify, Selection, Hood-N-Trunk, Demo, Trial Close, Write-Up, Delivery.

Up on the lot asking about price: Meet & Greet, Qualify, Selection, Hood-N-Trunk, Demo, Trial Close, Write-Up, Delivery.

Up on the lot wants a brochure: Meet & Greet, Qualify, Selection, Hood-N-Trunk, Demo, Trial Close, Write-Up, Delivery.

All these Ups on the lot for different reasons, and we know that the more often we can get them to a Test Drive, the more cars we’re gonna sell – our Closing Percentage goes through the roof when we get that customer behind the wheel!

So tracking Demo to Write-Up to Close is the most important statistic if I want to ensure a fat paycheck every month.

It all made sense.

Until, it all changed.

It changed when the Up Bus broke down. Customers do not come to the dealership anymore seeking answers to their questions.  You know it as well as I do how many customers know more about their particular interest than your best salesperson.

Customers do not need to visit the Dealership to see colors, engine options, prices – so they don’t!

But, they do need to interact with the dealership if they want to drive and buy a vehicle. So, naturally this phenomena has necessitated a shift in focus – from getting them in a car to getting them in the dealership.

The Ups are still “there,” just not where you can physically see them.  They are “shopping” your store at midnight, in their underwear, on their couch with no pressure, no hassle – no Salesperson. And often, they even let us know they are there: they send us the magical Internet Lead or even pick up the phone.

Quick Question: on the Road to a Sale, where does Meet-N-Greet fall in relation to Demo?  Before the Demo, right?  In other words, if there’s no Meet-N-Greet, there’s no Demo, right?

And if customers have no need to come to the Dealership other than to drive a car, is it as important to track those test drives as it used to be?

Today, the Appointment statistic is the old Demo statistic.  We need to sell appointments before we sell cars.  Want to sell more cars and make more money, track Appointment to Show to Close. Work is setting better appointments so more show, and watch your closing percentage soar.  Think about it: how many appointments who show do not purchase?  I’ll bet that’s a small number.

OF COURSE it’s still important to get customers behind the wheel of the car!!  You’re not going to sell many vehicles without test drives!  But the reality of today’s business is that, when customers are actually on the lot, a high percentage are already there with a test drive in-mind, so test drives should be a very high percentage of on-lot activity anyway, rendering the Demo statistic less meaningful.

Simple right? No?

What’s more important in your book?  Demo to Write-Up to Close or Appointment to Show to Close?

I wonder how many industry leaders scoffed at the assembly line or poo-poo’d the silicon chip…

15+ years front-line, battle-hardened automotive vet, foreshadowing 7 years in automotive software construction, production, training, sales, and supp...