AutoUSA -- David Shear, ISM says "In handling leads, process matters"; Why Internet Departments Fail
| September 2007
||VOLUME 2 ISSUE
of the Stat:
- Promise of local online advertising is surpassing past
- Growth of small companies and midsize companies are potential
advertisers to feed this trend
- By 2011 eMarketer estimates that less than 1/3 of US ad spend
will be local
- In four years the Internet will account for 7.6% of all local
by the Demon|
The new Chrysler Corporation is looking to make
a splash with their new Dodge Demon two seat sports car. With both
great cutting edge styling and a fuel efficient 4 cylinder engine,
they are hoping to grab market share now owned by the Mazda MX5
Miata and the Pontiac Solstice. The Dodge Demon would have a
starting price of around $15,000, but no word yet when it will be
available in showrooms. (Read
More | View
the YouTube video)
Gas prices to level off as summer
With gas as high as $3.30 a gallon this summer it put a
damper on sales of some trucks and SUVs. The U.S. Department of
Energy's Energy Information Administration is predicting a "steady
decline" in retail gasoline pricing from now through December. (Read
2007 SUVs improve in rollover
Many new sport-utility vehicles, equipped with
anti-rollover technology, are less of a risk for rollover crashes
than their predecessors, the government says. Rollover ratings
issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the
2007 model year show SUVs making progress in this area. (Read
Nardelli tells Chrysler team: Focus on
Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli stressed to senior
managers recently that the automaker must bolster the quality of its
vehicles and outlined other areas where improvements are necessary
as the company executes a three-year recovery plan to restore
Can Honda's New Accord Beat the
Honda aims to sell more than 400,000 of its new
Accords in 2008. But it will be hard to reach that goal without
cutting prices - and profits. The vehicle is larger and more stylish
but taking on the Camry market is never easy. (See
a Picture and Read More)
hokey about Internet sales in Oklahoma City
| David Shear: Bob Howard Auto
David Shear is the eCommerce Director for
the Bob Howard Auto Group in Oklahoma City, OK. They are part of
Group One, one of the top publicly owned auto groups in the country.
David has been with the dealership for 15 years and seven of them in
the Internet department. While they may not operate in a major metro
market the competition is keen and David and his team have a strong
focus on bringing in the business.
AutoUSA: What is the size of your Internet
David: We cover 13 franchises
in Oklahoma City both new and used vehicle departments and I have 24
to 27 people reporting to me. Most of our stores operate under the
Bob Howard brand and one is Smicklas Chevrolet.
AutoUSA: What is the Oklahoma City marketplace
David: The general market has a
population of about 500,000 with a broad culturally diverse segment.
Business development has been brisk and that's had a positive effect
on the general business climate here. We also have a strong
government and military workforce and that creates additional
marketing opportunities for us. While we work hard to please all of
our customers, we put a lot of special emphasis on serving our
female clientele. We believe they are looking for a different buying
experience and that's exactly what we give them.
AutoUSA: How is their experience different?
David: For our women customers we often let one of
our female sales team members handle those leads. However anybody in
the department could be working those leads. We never insult these
clients by asking if their husband needs to come along to drive the
car too. We will offer to take the car to their home and let them
test drive it from there. We also encourage them when test driving
the vehicle to take it through McDonalds to make sure they are
comfortable in all their daily situations. We will also bring the
vehicle to their office to let them test drive it from there. It is
amazing how many times we sell one or two more cars from those
visits as co-workers can't believe a dealership brought the car and
offered that kind of personal service.
AutoUSA: Your advertising heavily promotes your
websites, but tell me about your lead providers.
David: We do not buy many third party leads but of
the ones we do buy, the leads from AutoUSA seem to be a better
quality lead, and when we call those folks they are not surprised to
hear from us. With some other providers they wonder who we are and
how we got their information. While filtering and scrubbing leads is
a good thing, I must tell you that we got a lead in the past from
"Mickey Mouse" and sold him a car. Naturally his name was not Mickey
Mouse, but we followed our process and sent out our email with the
information Mickey requested. The fellow called us up and said
thanks for the info, spoke with us and then gave us his real name
and phone number. He just didn't want a lot of phone calls from
pushy auto sales people and was pleased we provide the info he
requested even though he put in the fake name and phone number.
AutoUSA: In what other ways are you
David: First off we do not use
auto responders. Using one of those in my department will get you
fired. When an online auto shopper sends in a request for
information, there are implied questions in the request. How much is
the car, is it in stock and is it still available? Our reply is
quite simply something like, "Hi Sally, yes the Ford Fusion is in
stock, your Internet Price is $X, and when would you be available to
come down and take it for a drive." Many auto responders say thanks
for your interest - blah- blah- blah, and if you have any questions
please go visit our website. Well they just came from the website,
why should your communication send them back there. I have never
understood why dealers do that.
AutoUSA: Many training programs say to avoid talking
about price. What are your thoughts on this?
David: I have been doing Internet sales for seven
years and started with one employee and now have a team of 27
staffers, we are ranked number two for Internet Sales on the Wards
List, and I believe people shopping on the Internet want a price.
They may get a similar price from my competitor but we will continue
to follow up with them, where many of the other stores in town will
only send one price quote and have no follow up program. I have
multiple email accounts and I mystery shop all the competitors to
see their process and I am amazed at their lack of follow-up. Their
attitude seems to be, "Here is my one price quote, if you don't buy
the vehicle from me now, the heck with you."
On new vehicles
we will tell the prospect what MSRP is on the vehicle and tell them
how much they can buy it for including all rebates, and discounts.
This insures they are comparing apples to apples. If they aren't
specific we provide a range of prices on the model they requested.
When we do speak with them and they say our price was high, we then
talk to them about equipment and MSRP. This is called communicating
with the customer and good things happen when you communicate.
AutoUSA: That sounds like it
streamlines the process at the dealership.
David: Our average customer spends about 45 minutes
at the dealership taking delivery. We take the credit application
through our secure website application and prepare all the paperwork
in advance so it cuts the time they spend in the store. This keeps
them happy and helps us work with more customers on a daily basis.
To view their site go to http://www.bobhowardauto.com