Dealers wising up to use of smartphones by vehicle shoppers

smartphoneAre your dealership’s employees spending more time on the phone?

That could be a good sign for your business if you’re ready for it, say auto industry sources.

“It’s back to the future for car shoppers, who now much prefer to contact dealerships with an old-fashioned phone call rather than via the Internet,” reported David Barkholz of Automotive News.

“With technology now, people research on their smartphones, find the car they want, click to call the dealer and negotiate from there,” Nancy Bloom, regional sales manager in Florida for Santander Consumer USA, told us. “When I was working at a dealership, you could see the shift to emailing the Internet department start to rise. Now, it is back on the phones.”

Citing data compiled by ADP Digital Marketing, Barkholz reported that telephone sales leads are up 46 percent versus Internet leads over the past two years.

“The rise of the smartphone has definitely facilitated the ease of which customers inquire about their potential vehicle purchase,” said Hamzah Issa, finance director of Sutherlin Nissan in Orlando, FL. The click-to-call trend … has increased our phone call leads considerably over just the past year.”

For example, he said Sutherlin had 90 phone call leads compared to 55 email leads for July 2014, substantially different than July 2013 when there were just 14 phone call leads and 42 email leads.

“We are discovering [that] people want to talk to someone live instead of an email,” said John Carino, finance director for Off Lease Only of Miami and Lake Worth, FL, the largest independent used car dealership in the country with sales of about 1,800 vehicles per month.

As a result of the change, dealers are committing to more phone sales training and call monitoring. That must include speeding up their responses to shopper inquiries, according to Joe Webb of DealerKnows.

Webb explained to Automotive News that dealerships still take an average of four hours to respond to Internet leads with a custom response, about 12 times the ideal response time of 20 minutes or less. Consequently, shoppers have been conditioned to bypass Internet or email and just call directly.

“Instant gratification is an expectation many consumers have, and most people don’t have the time to wait on the average four-hour response time for Internet leads,” said Sutherlin’s Issa.

“Dealers need to educate all staff on how to properly work a customer over the phone and in email format,” said Bloom of Santander. “Speaking to a customer over the phone and getting them to make the appointment is key to the dealer’s success.”

Posted in News, Selling

Written by

Enjoy this Post?

Remember to subscribe to our RSS Feed and if you would like, please share this post.

Comments are closed.