Remember The Importance Of A Personal Connection

May 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jason Ezell - Also by this author

Dealership differentiation is becoming a very difficult task. Technological advances enhance your overall performance, but staying ahead of the curve is still hard work. Dealers have to be very proactive to avoid being left in the dust of a fast-paced world.

In business, the most successful product is one that is not easily copied. The commodity that consumers consider the most valuable, and hardest to come by, is good customer service. You can’t copy customer service; it’s a personal connection to your customers. It’s an experience. Make sure every individual on your staff is trained to offer the customer the best car-buying experience possible. It’s also important to realize that this experience often starts on your Web site. Just make sure it doesn’t end there!

According to the 2007 Dealer eBusiness Performance Study, consumers found and chose dealerships through a number of sources. Other than driving by a dealership, the top source was friends and family, followed by search engines and dealer Web sites. It’s obviously important to make sure your Web site is well optimized and user friendly, but what about the friends and family element? Would you rather buy a car at a dealership your best friend suggests or at a dealership you found online? The answer is almost always the recommended dealership, but how do your friends and family find out about the dealership? Can you increase your odds of being recommended by the consumer’s older brother or work buddy?

The answer is yes, you can. Every time you make a connection with a customer, you’re connecting with their network. You’re speaking with someone’s son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister and a whole slew of friends! Likewise, when you let an Internet lead sit too long, you’re ignoring that same group of people. Keeps things in perspective, doesn’t it? Internet leads are not as faceless as they might seem. Don’t be impersonal and don’t assume that they’re less important than other customers. Give them personal attention and information they need, and you will be rewarded.

The study also discovered that more than 30 percent of leads go unanswered. In addition, 20 percent of consumers polled expect a response within four hours. When they don’t get a response as quickly as they would like, they go somewhere else.

According to the study, 55 percent of one million leads submitted converted to sales. Unfortunately, 90 percent of those sales happened at a different dealership than the one that received the lead. There are a number of reasons for this change. A large percentage of the consumers polled said they switched dealerships because of a poor dealer interaction. Consumers rank price and a professional sales staff almost equally when buying a car. Consumers are looking for a good experience and a quick, informative response. They want to be treated fairly and they want answers quickly. The majority of leads submitted will convert to sales. The question is, are you ready to make sure the consumer buys from you?

Vol 5, Issue 3

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