Our Sales are Through the Roof, So Does Lead Response Time Really Matter?
Today, most dealers are selling every piece of inventory they can get their hands as desperate consumers willingly pay more for a new or used car, truck, or SUV than they would’ve paid a couple of years ago.
This supply and demand imbalance begs the question: Does lead response time still matter?
It’s a valid question; think about it. Let’s say you’re a Ford dealer and you have just a handful of 2021 Ford Escapes on your lot, and your competing Ford dealers are holding about the same number of Escapes. But you’re the only one with a new Escape in a specific color and trim level. You’re going to sell it soon and earn a good gross.
So, why would it matter if you let the leads on this unique piece of inventory linger in your CRM for an hour or a day or a week before your record-breaking sales team gets around to responding? I mean, you’re going to sell it anyway, right?
Well, I can think of a few good reasons.
Some dealers spend tens of thousands of dollars every year to show prospective buyers that the dealership is part of the community. That the dealership is staffed by real humans who are their neighbors and friends. That the dealership is a good corporate citizen.
When someone submits an inquiry to your store, they expect a response. It’s common courtesy. When you don’t respond, consumers believe your team is either incompetent or rude, or both. Lead response is not about “stopping the clock” for your OEM, it’s about generating business today and in the future.
Show some common courtesy and respond to all inquiries quickly and professionally.
The Customer Clock
Consumers today have little patience when dealing with any business… and especially when dealing with car dealers.
The same prospect who will ghost your team for two weeks expects an immediate response to anything they send you. Whether to a new inquiry they just submitted or to a reply they made to one your emails or texts, car buyers and those looking for service want to know their message has been received and that you value their business.
Responding quickly keeps consumers from considering alternative choices.
Newsflash: Today’s consumers are nuts! Yep, your read that right, many of them have lost their freaking minds. The world is now full of Karens just waiting to tell the rest of humanity about the lukewarm coffee a local stand served them or how Taco Bell didn’t give them extra onions on their burrito.
Oh. The. Humanity.
Unfortunately, while we all know many of today’s consumers are nuts, we are still swayed by their negative online reviews. As a dealership, you can’t afford to have negative reviews, period. Many consumers are already leery of buying from or servicing with traditional dealers, so generating a one-star online review because you didn’t respond fast enough to a customer inquiry is just reckless.
Building and maintaining a great online reputation is not about managing bad reviews; it’s about avoiding negative reviews altogether.
Future Sales & Service Business
At some point in the future the supply of new and used vehicles will again outpace demand. When that happens wouldn’t be great if you hadn’t angered a Karen to the extent she left you a one-star review? Wouldn’t it be great if you hadn’t been taken out of the consideration set by a potential buyer because of no response to their simple inquiry last year?
It can happen. Personally, I’ve taken two local dealers out of my consideration set for service (and likely for sales) because their teams never responded to multiple inquiries. It’s frustrating when a business asks you to contact them via some medium (a lead form, for example) and then never responds.
Just because you’re selling everything you have in stock today doesn’t mean you won’t need today’s internet prospects to think of you next month, next year, or in five years. Although we tend to live in a thirty-day world in automotive retail, what we sell in the next thirty days may have more to do with how we treated prospects and customers thirty months ago.
Successfully selling cars is not about selling today; it’s about selling today and tomorrow; so, today’s lead responses should reflect your desire to sell vehicles long into the future.
As long as we’re on the subject of tight new and used vehicle inventories, you may want to know which marketing providers you can cut without losing momentum. Check out that post here: Tight New & Used Car Inventories: Where Can We Cut?