Article

The Three Percent Difference: Frank Kent Motors Uses eCRM to Increase Closing Ratios

June 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Daymond Decker - Also by this author

Though it started life as a one-dimensional Internet signpost, the Web site of Frank Kent Motor Company of Fort Worth, Texas, has become a dynamic Web experience, racking up to 7,000 hits per month. Since they average $1,800 gross per unit sold and only $300 cost per sale, their new eCommerce plan gets more attractive with each customer click.
Dennis Groters, Internet and BDC manager, helped launch www.frankkent.com and its Internet department in 1998. Like a nondescript train stop, the Web site had no set clear-cut online plan, other than to display contact information. It was, described Groters, “a one-page landing site.” Once they began viewing it as a profitable channel for customer service and sales, their site become a heartbeat for CRM, much like the open market at the famous Fort Worth Stockyards Station nearby.

A Locomotive-Powered Web site
How do customers get to the Frank Kent station in the first place? Working with BZ Results, Frank Kent constructed a new Web site and virtual dealership to flag onlookers down. What separates the site from others? “Comprehensiveness,” answered Groters. “Our new site offers valuable information to our customers.” The homepage clearly points customers to one of seven car brands. Once they choose a brand, customers can browse new and pre-owned models by year, make and trim. The Virtual Test Drive lets customers get a wraparound view of the interior and exterior, scan the warranty, and even check under the hood. They can read third-party model reviews and book a service appointment.

Customers can also fill out a full credit application, sidestepping the hassles of a typical finance process. Frank Kent repeatedly hands out special deals to their online customers (like a 15 percent discount off accessories). “Customers appreciate the online inventory at their fingertips,” said Groters, “and stock photos of each new and used car.” They average six photos per pre-owned car. To top it off, two staff people manage the eBay Motors sales listings full-time.

Service appointments at Frank Kent are outsourced to a company integrated within their Web site. Customers can choose a time to bring in their car and specify what services they need. “Customers appreciate this feature,” said Groters, “because they are easily walked through the process, step by step.”

Driving Traffic to the Station
For a broad series of prospects, Frank Kent relies on four lead providers: AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, Autobytel.com, and AutoUSA. In addition, they are organically situated in first place on most search engines.

Their next line of attack is to tie together technology and one-on-one communication. “Whenever Frank Kent has a special,” said Groters, “we notify our customers immediately.” Frank Kent toughened their e-mail commitment with BuzzTrak Virtual BDC Manager, an automated prospect management tool that sends out direct mail and bulk e-mail marketing campaigns.

The Frank Kent dealerships send out e-mails one-to-two days before they start advertising on television and radio Since the campaign is automated, the people at Frank Kent can set it and forget it. They have time to focus on other CRM needs. Automation also helps them see which customers should be contacted first, depending on the promotion.

Frank Kent tags their Web address on every form of advertising and all stationary. “The URL www.frankkent.com is displayed on our service vans, parts trucks and key chains,” added Groters.

Groters and his department recently developed and fine-tuned their Internet sales process.. Frank Kent has seven full-time appointment setters to follow up leads within their goal of 15 minutes. “We currently average 11 [minutes] for follow-up via e-mail,” said Groters. That goal-setting tactic is just one piece of the CRM model. It keeps their appointment show average at 68 percent or higher, resulting in total sales at or just under 200 units per month. Groters doubled his Internet/BDC team last year to accommodate the rising sales.

Who’s Manning the Engine
CRM analysts will tell you that, no matter how efficient your process, it does little good if your employees aren’t satisfied with their work. An incident where a customer was treated poorly can travel dangerously fast across the Web.

Groters, general manager Dave Martin, and owners Cory and Will Churchill, all know that their biggest success is not their efficiency, but the people working on the floor and behind the scenes. Family-owned since 1935, Groters explains, “We experience great synergy and a lot of cooperation (no in-house conflicts) between the finance, sales and Internet department.”

That synergy definitely boosted their goal of expanding sales through the Internet. Since deploying an eCommerce plan, Frank Kent Motor’s total closing ratio rose from nine percent to 12 percent. Their success brings home the value of tracking results. Until recently, they weren’t harnessing any tracking solutions to mark their steps. “Tracking reveals the cost of past marketing campaigns, who was involved and how much was gained and lost,” Groters concluded. “It provides a baseline for improvement. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Like the Fort Worth Stockyards Station of the late 1800s was a major stop for supplies, tools and news—Frank Kent has formed a strong link with its customers, giving them a site worth exploring. Like the company itself, they’ve backed up their CRM technology tools with a dedicated staff.

Groters sees only bright lights ahead. His goal is to raise their 12 percent closing ratio up to 15 percent. “You’re never good enough; you can always improve,” he insisted.

Vol 5, Issue 4

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