As I mystery shop automotive dealers on a weekly basis, I am amazed at the lack of follow up phone skills that are still out there. Even more, I am amazed at the lack of follow up attempts that most Internet and BDC departments have. This is either lack of training, lack of motivation, or simply way too many leads coming in to effectively handle the proper procedure. After all of that we wonder why we are not getting the ROI that we are looking for.
I submitted a lead to a Toyota dealership (name will not be disclosed). This dealership is huge selling around 500 units per month. I was very impressed with the follow up process when using the phone. I did not answer calls on purpose just so I can listen to the voice mails and see how many times they will call. I was impressed because they called me between 2 and 3 times per day every day. The calls came from sales professionals in the internet department as well as a manager. If that is not powerful, I do not know what is. This is the only other dealership that I have heard that has a manager get involved in a follow up process. The other situation is when I work in a dealership as a director for the department because I like to get heavily involved with my leads and prospects and add a second face. This always helped drive more traffic to the showroom and eventually put more deals out there.
This is way more then the average internet department would do. Some dealerships have a process where a call is made every other day while others call for the first 5 days and stop. There are dealerships that are trained to call once and stop. I can argue that some processes out there are just very poor while others are great. At the same time, different situations call for different follow up methods.
If the dealership is staffed appropriately and is able to handle a solid process, heavy follow up is a beautiful thing. I remember having coordinators complain, “what if the customer tells me to stop and is annoyed with me calling so much?”. I would tell them, “Good, that means you are doing your job. If that happens, I will give you $20 bucks cash out of my pocket. Do your job. The customer called you or emailed you because they are serious about getting into a vehicle. Help them get what they want.”. As a dealer or manager it is important to appreciate that the Internet/BDC/Retention departments do everything to keep traffic coming in. Gone are the days where these departments need to be treated like a redheaded stepchild. We need to start focusing on effective follow up processes.
If I had to change a few things about the follow up process that this dealership used, I would change the quality of the voice mails that they left me. Let’s face it. It gets pretty annoying when every voice mail has the same message. It is important to leave a powerful message when a call is made. A powerful message will get more call backs. For example, I used to call prospects and leave a message like this “Good Afternoon Mr. Customer, this is Stan Sher calling from XYZ Motors. I received your internet purchase request for a Honda Accord. I see here that you are affiliated with Microsoft (or any company their email address represents). I wanted to let you know that you qualify for our preferred benefits package which includes special pricing along with many other specials that are not available to the general public. It is important that I speak with you because I want to personally make sure that I give you the right information and make sure that your needs are taken care of. Please give me a call back at your earliest convenience so that we can ensure that your shopping and purchase experience is not only pleasant but also worry free”.
This is a people business. As a consumer we want to be respected and treated right. If we let our customers know that in a positive way we will improve the chances of doing business with more people. This voice message has led to more call backs and more car deals (with potential referral business).
I always talk about using methods that build rapport. I always like to feel the customer out before I pull any unique methods. I listen to their tone on the answering machine. I also see how they react when initially speaking to me on the phone. I even go as far as search for them on the internet to find out more about them (hobbies and work information). I find out their personalities and their sense of humor. At that point, I leave voice messages like this, “Hello Mr. Customer, this is Stan The Man Sher calling from XYZ Motors. It is a lovely day here and I hope that your day is wonderful as well. I just wanted to call and let you know that we just received Honda Pilot Touring that you inquired about. The good news is that this vehicle is white (your exact color choice) and also has the navigation system that you are interested in for those long trips with the family. Please give me a call at your earliest convenience at (555)555-5555. Thank you.”.
What did I do? I pulled a funny in some cases when I said, “this is Stan The Man calling”. It used to get people to smile and react in a positive way. As a matter of fact, it worked like a charm for me. I also went into detail realizing that this consumer is looking for a specific vehicle and has specific needs. This most likely came from viewing their facebook profile. These practices work. I want to know know who I am dealing with and how to deal with them.
Stop going on facebook just to play games. Start using it to help build rapport with your prospects. We have google for a reason.
What else would I change in this Toyota dealership. I would get involved in sending out more emails and more social media engagement. I guarantee anyone reading this, that if they turned around and sent me a message on facebook I would be way more likely to respond. Why? Well they have tried every other way to contact me and at this point I can’t avoid them any longer. In my mind, the dealership was so creative that at this point I am just curious to see what is next.