June 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
The current economic climate is prompting many dealers to re-evaluate how they’re spending their money, a fact that has not escaped the attention of Tim Parker, president and CEO of DealerLink. Dealers want to make sure they’re getting the best-possible return on their investment and that can be found in Internet leads. “There’s no advertising dollar that any dealer could spend that’s going to get them as big a bang for the buck as they can get doing Internet leads … there’s no direct mail, there’s no TV or newsprint or radio advertising that has a return on the investment dollar that these do, whether they’re coming from DealerLink or any other company in the business,” said Parker.
DealerLink owns and operates over 500 consumer Web sites and guarantees clients 100-percent exclusive leads. Even if a customer attempts to apply on more than one of their hundreds of Web sites, DealerLink’s system ensures that the lead will be delivered to only one dealer. In fact, no lead has ever been delivered to more than one client in the history of the company.
In addition to that iron-clad guarantee, DealerLink has published their invalid lead policy, something not done by other third-party lead providers. If, for example, it is discovered during the interview process that the customer has a previously-undisclosed open bankruptcy or repossession, DealerLink will replace that lead with a new one or will give the dealer credit for the lead.
All leads are scrubbed before reaching the dealer. Any leads where the customer indicates a repossession within the past year or an open bankruptcy will not be processed. Dealers can customize how leads are scrubbed by modifying the requirements for income and job time. Additionally, as part of DealerLink’s service, clients receive free access to a lead management system at no extra charge. The system can even be used for leads obtained from another third-party provider.
All leads are time-stamped down to the second the customer applies. Dealers have a much higher rate of success if they are able to get in touch with a customer within the first 90 minutes after an application is submitted. DealerLink clients typically have a closing rate of 8 to 12 percent, although some do significantly more.
It’s especially important for a dealer to have someone with good phone skills contacting their leads. No lead program – no matter how good – will generate results for a dealer if the dealership can’t get the customer into the store. It’s often better for dealers to hire someone to make calls, rather than simply using salespeople who often haven’t had the opportunity to learn the needed phone skills. The purpose of the call is not to sell a car, but simply to get the customer into the dealership.
Leads are no different from one end of the country to the other; the variable is the people working those leads. If a dealer is having trouble getting people into the dealership, it is usually because of the process they’re using. The staff at DealerLink is ready to help in those cases, utilizing best practices gleaned from their years of dealership experience as well as advice given by other dealer clients.
While providing leads is DealerLink’s main function, helping dealers become more successful is their primary objective. Something that sets DealerLink apart from other providers is the fact that the company is staffed by people who have had hands-on, in-dealership experience, such as sales managers and special finance directors. Additionally, a staff of 19 is employed for the sole purpose of search engine optimization. Search engines change almost daily, and the staff constantly monitors the performance of DealerLink’s 500-plus Web sites. If a site is found to be underperforming, it is immediately torn down and rebuilt.
With no start-up fees and no long-term contracts, dealers are free to cancel their service at any time if they are dissatisfied. The level of service provided by DealerLink is what keeps clients on board. The difference is having people who know what dealers face on an everyday basis and who can share their knowledge and experience. Anything they can do to help dealers have a better chance for success is part and parcel of the service at DealerLink, where the bottom line is delivering more cars.
Special Finance Insider
Vol. 2, Issue 3