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How involved is your connection with each of your customers? Excellent personalized customer service is what sets a great dealership apart from others. Providing superior customer service is an essential part of gaining repeat business. If you routinely followed up with every customer, in a way that would not increase your workload, how much more business could you do? Let's take a look at the customer experience process, from the perspectives of two different customers.

Without Automated Targeted Communication

The online lead (Buddy): Buddy is viewing vehicles on the dealership website. He wants to purchase a truck, and he sees two that he likes. He reads about them and views pictures on the website, then signs up for the dealership's email newsletter in case they are having any good deals.

Buddy forgets his search for a few days, then decides to check out another dealership website. He also views their trucks, and does so on a variety of other local dealership websites as well. After several months of searching, no one from any of the dealerships has contacted Buddy and he has not made a purchase.

The customer who has purchased (Minnie): Minnie purchased a car about a year ago. She received a call from the dealership three months after her purchase, letting her know that her car was due for an oil change. Minnie has not heard from the dealership since, and has discovered a shop that can do her regular maintenance for slightly cheaper than the dealership.

These situations are common. Most automotive customers now research vehicles online before visiting the dealership. In many cases, dealership staff do not have the tools to reach out to all the online leads they receive.

Once customers purchase vehicles, they require ongoing maintenance, and routine appointments are a great way to drive repeat business back to the original dealership. Does your staff contact every customer to let them know each time that their vehicle requires routine maintenance? Oil change notices, appointment reminders, updates about winter tires and special promotions... Are you contacting each customer with this important information?

If you are contacting each customer, that requires a lot of time, effort and organization. You could spend your whole day just calling customers. Is there a way to simplify the process of reaching out to customers, while still effectively connecting with them and enhancing the level of customer service that you provide?

With Automated Targeted Communication

Now let's imagine how the customer experience could be enhanced with the help of an automated communication solution.

The online lead (Buddy): Buddy views the trucks that he likes and signs up for the dealership's email newsletter. He immediately receives a welcome message: “Hi Buddy! Thanks for signing up. Use the promotional code TIRE2014 to get 20% off your purchase of windshield washer fluid or gas line antifreeze.” He receives another email the next day, with a list of “deals of the month” and he spots a truck. He clicks the link to view more information.

Two days later, he gets an email entirely focused on trucks, with links to pages highlighting the features of each of the dealership's trucks that are currently in stock. He sees the truck he likes, and clicks the link. The next day, he receives an email “Hi Buddy, would you like to test drive a Brand X 2014 truck? If you find the truck of your dreams, we will throw in three months of satellite radio free, just for you!”

Buddy goes to the dealership and tests out the truck. The salesperson is friendly and helpful and soon Buddy has decided to purchase.

The customer who has purchased (Minnie): Minnie just purchased her car. She told the salesperson that the best way to reach her is through text messaging. Two weeks after the initial purchase, Minnie receives a text message: “Hi Minnie, we hope you're enjoying your new car! If you have any questions or feedback, please let us know. You can always text us or call us at ---.”

Every three months, Minnie gets a text message letting her know that her car is due for an oil change. She even books her appointments through text messaging. On the day of each appointment, she receives a text message reminding her of the appointment time.

Every few months, Minnie receives messages and promotions that are tailored to her car type and purchase date. She always receives routine maintenance notices so her vehicle stays in top shape, and she also gets reminders when she should put on and take off her winter tires. Each year on Minnie's birthday and on the anniversary of the day she purchased her vehicle, she gets exclusive text message discounts and promotions. The communication process is quick and easy, and Minnie has never been so satisfied with customer service, so she continues to return for her maintenance and has recommended the dealership to friends.

Conclusion

Automotive salespeople and customer service representatives provide the most important connection to customers, and their hard work and friendly attitude encourage customer loyalty. Yet it is difficult for staff to contact each customer on every important date with updates about their unique vehicle and personalized promotions.

With the assistance of automated software that is currently available, staff can contact hundreds of customers with a single click. They can set up a communication plan at the beginning of the year to ensure that every customer receives maintenance reminders based on their purchase date and date of last appointment, a special promotion on their birthday and more. Automatic messages are sent on the customer's preferred mode of communication. All messages are sent from a single automated solution.

Imagine how much more new and repeat business you could gain if you could follow up with every online lead and in-store customer, and provide information that is directly relevant to each unique individual. Your daily workload is reduced, yet you are able to provide more personalized service to each of your customers.

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http://www.internetsales20group.com 

What Are Your Most Important Assets?

Guest Post By Sean V. Bradley, CEO, Dealer Synergy

I have been immersed in automotive Internet sales, BDC, and digital marketing for almost 15 years. Needless to say, in this time there have been countless evolutions in social media, lead generation, mobile devices, and every other form of technology.

Through it all, one thing has always remained constant and important – PEOPLE. We have always needed, and continue to need, good quality people. No one has invented robots that sell cars, and no one has eliminated the need for automotive sales professionals, Internet directors, or appointment setters. Through all of the technology upheavals, social media fads and the Google ZMOT craze, the ONLY thing that has not been eliminated or genetically enhanced is the “People” aspect of the department.

People are the backbone of this industry. People sell cars, people conduct product presentations and demo drives. People qualify prospects, identify their wants, wishes and expectations, and then meet them and exceed them. No matter how much technology we have at our disposal, it is the “People” that make everything happen – before, during and AFTER the sale!

That being said, dealers must make sure they have the RIGHT people in their departments, and not settle for anything less than what is needed for success. Too many times dealers take “ANY” “body” that is available. They only recruit when they are desperate and need “bodies.” It is rare to see dealers proactively recruiting for the right candidates.

The scary truth is that this is true throughout the dealership – but it is becoming an epidemic in the Internet Sales Department, the BDC / Call Center, etc. In these departments, many dealers are not staffing correctly. Horrifyingly, they are either hiring the wrong people to run their multi-million dollar department, and / or they do not have the appropriate number of people in their department. It is common to see departments with way too many leads and only one or two BDC reps managing 500, 600, or more leads.

If you’re not staffing these departments properly, know that this practice is just plain badon many different levels. Here’s why:

  • You are BURNING through Internet Ups, only capturing the “low hanging fruit.”
  • You are NOT able to effectively communicate with your individual Internet Prospects because you are spread too thin to have the proper amount of e-mail / phone call follow-up protocol.
  • You will have prospects slip through the cracks and potentially buy elsewhere.
  • It’s NOT just the leads for the current month that are not being handled properly; there is also your Residual Flow Factor to consider. The average buying cycle is 45 – 90 days. So, if there are 500 leads (fresh for the month), there are an approximately 250+ carry over leads that you’re still working.
  • Most painful: lost revenue.

Dealerships must have a consistent and proactive recruiting protocol. They must also know which sources are the best for recruiting top talent. Here are a few proven resources:

Here’s another, more creative way to attract qualified candidates for employment: Create a TV / Web Commercial. That’s right, a commercial for HR. Here’s an example of a commercial we created for one of our dealer clients, Bill Dube Hyundai (Scott Dube is the President of the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association):

Whether you create your commercial in-house or outsource the job is up to you. No matter how you do it, my strong advice is to produce one.

Once you have a Web / TV commercial created, I recommend you syndicate widely for maximum visibility through resources including the following:

  • Facebook and Facebook ads, sponsored posts, etc.
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Google Ads and Video Pre-Roll ads

You can even create a “We are hiring” button on your website!

Remember: you are only as strong as your weakest link. And if your weakest link is your people, you need to – and CAN – do something about it immediately.

If you have any questions about this article, please email me at sean@dealersynergy.comor feel free to give me a call at (267) 319-6776.

Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry.

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