“The customers are still coming to us. We don’t need your help – we’re good and more profitable than ever. Cars are selling above MSRP.”
Selling cars above MSRP is not good practice, and neither is relying on the hot market we’ve all experienced these last two years. It’s not “if,” it’s “when” the market corrects itself that those with the sentiment above will struggle. And struggle with flooded inventory facing the monthly payments on their floor plans, and struggling with the untrained sales staff not equipped to be anything other than dreaded order takers.
In the last two years, dealers have struggled to effectively respond to customer inquiries online. In fact, less than 44% of customer inquiries were answered within thirty minutes. It’s no secret that if we don’t respond to a customer’s inquiry within a reasonable period, it dramatically reduces our chances of converting that lead into an appointment. More importantly, the quality of that initial response is crucial.
To this day, dealers also struggle with automated lead responders not firing correctly and botched workflow emails. Or worse, multiple people respond to the same inquiry but respond more than 30 minutes later. To make matters worse, the quality of that response is also lacking. If the customer asks a specific question about a vehicle, it’s best to answer it and provide the next steps.
Yet the mentality many dealers have in the last two years is “inventory is low. If they want the unit, they’ll come in and buy it.” This mentality not only disenfranchises the customer from wanting to do business with your dealership, but it’s also a tell-tale sign of the lack of training your sales consultants, and BD agents have. Regardless if inventory is low or not, it doesn’t mean we should fail to respond with a quality response to the inquiry. We are still in the sales and people business, right? If we don’t have the vehicle available, the customer might be unable to order it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t another vehicle you can offer them. You can’t provide them a car, though, if we’re not responding to the customer, or worse, if we do respond, we respond with something to the effect of “don’t have this vehicle, inventory is low. If we get something in soon, we can reach out.”
Put yourself in the shoes of the customer for a moment. If you received an email like that from a dealership (if you even got a response), would that make you want to do business with them? Probably not.
Instead, you could easily offer:
“[customer name], thank you for your inquiry on the [vehicle]. Great news! We have similar vehicles in stock that may be of interest, and we can also work with you to see if this is a vehicle we can order. But before I get ahead of myself, are you available now or later today to connect? I have a 2:15 or a 2:45 appointment time slot available?”
You can see the stark differences in the responses. How many more responses do you think you’d get with the second one vs. the first one? And if you don’t believe some of your sales consultants or BD agents are sending out a response similar to the first one, then it’s time you complete a complimentary stealth test. Your dealership is only as good as the sales consultants and BD agents who represent you are trained.
Do yourself a favor and complete a complimentary stealth test. We aim to ensure that your sales consultants and BD agents are effectively trained. We’re not your typical “one-day” session, sending in a self-proclaimed guru. Instead, we work with your teams providing them bite-sized information that assists them in effectively answering the phones and handling lead inquiries.