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We will be heading out to Vegas for NADA 2012 in a few short weeks and I am curious as to what everyone is looking forward to this year? To be honest I haven’t really heard much buzz around this years NADA so I am interested to see once we get there what the “big thing” is this year. So in the mean time I’ll ask all of our loyal readers to tell me what is on your list this year? What are you hoping to accomplish at NADA?

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I wanted to give you all the results of my blog on QR Codes back in November http://blog.liquidmotors.com/author/terryholbrook/

. First of all thank you for the tremendous response via phone and emails it is appreciated.  Remember feel free to post links to these blogs and send them to people who you think would benefit from them.

If you have not read the November blog yet please do so prior to reading the results of the survey. Anyway, let’s get to the results of my 4 survey questions:

  1. Question:  I would place my QR code on the?
    1. Window Sticker          
    2. Buyers Guide
    3. A separate form

 Results

Do you agree with these results?

  1. Question: I have tried to scan my own QR Codes and they will scan through any level of window tint I have on my cars?
    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. I have never tested it 

Results:

Do you agree?

This is a shock to me in two ways.  First I have tested virtually every smart phone with QR Codes and have not found a code I could not scan through every type of window tint.  Now I am not saying it does not exist but I have not found one in months of testing.

Secondly, how many have never tested their own QR Codes to even make sure they work.  C’mon MAN,,,, get out there and test your products.  I don’t care if it is Liquid Motors or someone else get involved!

    Question 3: When a customer scans my QR Code I want them to see?

  1. My web site home page
  2. The vehicle details page on my main web site
  3. A customer contact form
  4. My mobile web site vehicle details page

Results:

 Nearly 40% of responses said they want their customer to see the details page of their main dealer site.  WHAT!  As my 3 year old would say, “Are you kidding me”.  Please if you agree with their answer please take a minute and view a mobile dealer site on your phone versus a non mobile site.  http://www.hooksautos.com/ has a mobile site you can use to compare to any non mobile site.  Try things like click to call, clicking on buttons or links you will see the difference your customers see.

     Question 4:  Customers know what QR Codes are and how to use them?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Results:

Just over 70% of our survey takers said YES that customers know what QR Codes are and how to use them.  Do you agree with them?

A resent study was done to answer this exact question.  According to the 794 customers that responded just 36% know what QR Codes are and of those 11% have actually used them at least 1 time.

Does this lack of awareness mean that QR codes are not such a valuable tool, or do they target a smaller but potentially more valuable audience?  What say you?

However, the same survey found that 54.7% of the people that scanned QR codes had a household income of $75,000 or more (with 36% over $100k), suggesting that marketers are targeting a wealthier audience. 

Here is the link to read the entire survey: Customer Survey on QR Codes Awareness

I know this is a busy time of the year with Thanksgiving, Christmas and budgeting for the 2012 so thank you for taking the time to read our blogs, facebook and twitter posts they are meant to benefit you.

Best wishes to all of your in 2012 may we grown, increase profits and have a very blessed 2012 together!  God bless you and your family from our family here at Liquid Motors.  Peace Joy and Happiness – Terry Holbrook

It seems like everyone is talking about new years resolutions. Some people call them resolutions while others call them “goals” for the new year. What ever the case may be don’t waste one more day…set your goals! I talk to customers everyday and everyday I hear the same thing…”I don’t have enough time to ________(fill in the blank)”. If it’s important to you and more importantly to the success of your dealership then make the time. Goals will not be accomplished on their own. Here is what I think about when I am setting my goals:
1) I look at my previous years accomplishments and failures and put those failures at the top of the list for this year. I don’t give up on them. Like they say there’s always next year.
2) I write down goals that are reasonable and attainable.
3) I set a timeline; think of the snowball effect, if any of you listen to Dave Ramsey you know what I’m talking about…set out to accomplish the smaller goals first
4) I write them down and put them where I can see them every day; fridge, bathroom mirror, wallet, next to the computer; wherever just make sure they are visible…you know the saying…out of sight out of mind.
5) I verbally talk about them with my family and friends so they know what I am trying to accomplish.
6) Finally I make a conscious effort everyday to attain them
I set not only personal goals but professional, spiritual and physical ones as well. I would encourage all of you to sit down and do this as soon as possible! Better yet get everyone at dealership together and discuss goals for the new year. Come up with your dealerships goals together and make them well known. It’s a lot easier to accomplish goals when everyone is working towards them together. I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season! Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful 2012!

Last week one of the Internet managers I work with called to make sure his inventory exports to the sites where he markets were going out properly, because his leads were down. Though that could be a possible reason why the leads were down (and I verified it wasn’t), there is so much more involved in lead generation than just having your vehicles online. The competition is stiff out there, so you better be on top of your game if you want your fair share of the pie. We’ve all heard it before, and I have certainly tried to beat it into my dealers’ heads, but you have got to show your shoppers why you are the one they should buy from. Aside from SEO (let’s just assume they got to your site – your website analytics will tell you if they did), showcasing your merchandise is so important. You can have the best SEO’d site, but if your site is not user friendly or your vehicles are not updated, shoppers will leave. I know, I am a shopper, and I’m gonna leave.

Going back to leads being down, if the shoppers are not shopping, there is not much you can do about that, but when they are shopping, and you have been fortunate enough for them to have chosen to see what you have, make sure you are giving them what they seek. We’ve said it over and over, 30+ pictures is a good number to give a decent walk around description of your vehicle. When taking the photos, act like you have the customer right there on the lot and you are walking around showing them how clean and nice the vehicle is. Build value for the car. Once they are done looking over the photos, shoppers will look to see what you have said about the car. Again, talk to them like you would if they are physically at the dealership. “This is a nice one owner vehicle just traded here at Liquid Motors. It comes with leather, navigation, and a sunroof. It is a non smoker and compares to the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, and Nissan Altima. This car drives great and won’t last. Please call me today for a test drive.” How hard is that? Apparently some think it is hard, because not all dealerships are telling shoppers why they should buy from them. Why should you expect they would if you are not even taking the time to tell them how excited you are to offer them such a nice vehicle? If you don’t care, they probably won’t either.

If you happen to be one of those dealers that does a great job with merchandising your inventory and are seeing a decline in leads, it may be a good time, to go to all the sites where you market and send some test leads. It never hurts to make sure you are getting the leads. Also, ask yourself if you are taking advantage of any free advertising. The main site that comes to mind is Craigslist. If you are not posting to Craigslist, you are missing leads. Try posting without price. Your phone will ring.

I feel like a broken record sometimes as I blog about these basics that should be a normal part of Internet advertising, but until I see that my dealers are all on top of it, I’m gonna nag. And remember, if you are not seeing the results you are expecting, it could be your fault. Check your process and reevaluate if necessary.

I was skimming through the October 2011 issue of Auto Success and I came across an article, on page 32, that talks about mining your own data and how a dealer is sitting on a gold mine. Think about it, instead of spending thousands of dollars on print ads and mailers to new prospects why not dig into your own database and market to current customers that have purchased from you and service their car with you? Clearly they are already coming to you so you need to take advantage of that. If you want to spend money on a mailer then spend it on a in-equity letter that you can mail out to all of your current customers that you have a much better chance of getting into a new car then someone that has never stepped foot on your lot. Also use the service department to your advantage. When someone drives into the service department take a minute to look and see how much that customer has in their car or better yet have that info ready before they even get there, if they have an appointment already scheduled, and have a sales associate on hand to talk to them about what their options are. These are just examples and there are a million different ways to mine your data but don’t miss out on great, and easy, way to gain some more sales.

If you weren’t able to get on our eBay advanced training, hosted by the wonderful George Hatch, today then you missed out! But you are lucky because I took notes and here were the highlights.

* The click experience equals the brick experience!
-Every page view=a buyer walking your lot
-Every bid=a serious buyer looking to make a deal

* Traditional Retail eBay/Internet
1) Meet/greet 1) Online 1st Impression
2) Lot Walk 2) Virtual Showroom
3) 6 Position 3) Virtual Walk Around
4) Test Drive 4) Virtual Test Drive
5) Resale 5) Messages/Question
6) Trial Close 6) Bid/Offer

* How to create the best notes: 5 steps

Paragraph #1-What is the vehicle? Make, model, year, mileage, condition
Paragraph #2-Why is this vehicle special? Options, warrant, VHR
Paragraph #3-Price support-Low reserve, price, special financing
Paragraph #4 Who are you and how do I reach you? Name, phone number and photo
Paragraph #5-About you-About the dealership; why buy from you?

* Subtitles are one of the best ways to improve your search results. Use ALL 80 characters-key search terms, major options

It was a great training! We help our dealers on a daily basis on eBay and no matter how many times I train someone I still learn something new every time. If you have any questions about eBay or maybe you have never done eBay and you are ready to try it out call your account manager today, we are here to help!

Here at Liquid Motors not only do we offer ways for our dealers to improve their lead volume with innovative software but we also offer dealers tips and trainings on how to improve processes related to vehicle sales. So as someone who is asked weekly “how do I get better” or more commonly “how do I get more leads” something struck me over the weekend. I was trying to schedule an appointment and got very frustrated when none of the times that were offered to me matched my schedule and I got to thinking. Why would any business not work to determine their customer’s availability to come and spend money before setting their hours?

Well this got me thinking about our dealers and what portion of time a dealer’s inventory is being viewed they are closed. Remember your website and the Internet do not sleep. So when I got to my office this morning I pulled a report and did a sampling to see if my assumption was even close. What I found were that almost 20% of phone calls where after hours and judging by the length of the call once they heard a voicemail they hung up. Believe it or not in many cases the customer tried to call right back to reach a live person but no voicemail was left by the customer.

So here is your interactive part of this blog: Run your call tracking report and see what percentage of your inbound calls are coming in after your business hours and post them when you reply to this blog.

For those of you who have your calls sent to a sales person after hours again don’t be shocked by the percentage of non answered calls but I will say you are WAY ahead of the competition if you are doing this.

How many of your BDC centers are staffed up to 10PM or after sales hours? I have noticed a trend that a large percentage of eBay listings are being viewed between 5-8pm and even later than that for Craigslist which ties into the customer’s schedule.

This brings me back to my original question, are your business hours in line with your customers schedule? Your analytics will tell you this and then it is up to you to react.

Guys and Gals this is not a new idea in the business world. Restaurants do this all the time; will we make more money by opening for lunch or staying closed, should we be staying open 2 more hours at night? Imagine if you could not open at 8am but open at 12PM and stay open until 10PM and increase sales by 15% or more?

So for those of you who want to increase your leads by 20% or more try looking at your hours and making sure they match your customers schedule.

So how do I solve this, I can’t stay open 24/7? Here at Liquid Motors our support department is open 24/7/365 and it is not an answering service it is a full time Liquid Motors team member who takes their rotation throughout the year. That’s right; everyone from our President down takes a week at a time of after hours support phone. This is a small amount of time to ensure our dealers are taken care of immediately regardless of the time. What if you had a rotation like this with your sales team? Now that is customer service.

Thank you for reading and posting your findings on our blog and for following Liquid Motors.

I really love my job at Liquid Motors. Not only am I an account manager working with a lot of fascinating dealerships, I serve as a consultant, therapist, mediator (this role is actually pretty funny..boy do I have some stories to tell), provide some comic relief, you name it. It’s quite interesting most days. But as I was playing therapist a few weeks back, one of my (once not so internet marketing savvy) dealers called to vent. She was telling me that she just realized that day how for the last 4 or 5 years she had not been getting any email leads from one of her main dealership websites. I know you might be thinking how ridiculous that is. How could this happen? Are you kidding me? Really? But, let’s face it. This is not uncommon. Hopefully the 4 or 5 years part is. But, going back to what I said before…the “not so internet marketing savvy” part, they simply did not realize they should be inspecting what they were expecting. As she spoke to the website vendor, they explained that a lead forwarding address was never set up when the website was created. OUCHY!! You know what really stinks about the whole thing? They missed a ton of leads because there was no competition for that brand within a 200 mile radius of them.

I blog about every other time I blog reminding dealers that they MUST send test leads from all sites where they market as well as phone verify all tracking numbers at least monthly. There should be a designated person that on the first of every month (or whatever time works best) sends out test leads and keeps a record of what has been tested. It can not be assumed that things always work like they are supposed to. Think about when a change is made in sales personnel, CRM company or inventory management system, there are a lot of vendors that need to be contacted. That is a lot of people updating information, and mistakes (typos, transposed #’s, etc.) can and will happen. Don’t tell anyone I said so, but I even make a mistake from time to time. WE ALL DO! So a second set of eyes looking out for your best interest is a MUST.

I hope every dealership I know reads this blog. Hopefully it will be an eye opener for those that just assume everything is happening as it should. Do you know who’s looking out for you?

Every day I find myself reading through at least one forum, if not more, on one automotive site or another. I like to keep up with what is out there and know what people, dealers, are talking about. This morning I read this entry on a great forum, Automotive Digital Marketing, When’s the last time your saw an evidence manual?. If you haven’t taken a minute to check out their forum I urge you to do so today! The author of the post asks the question, Where is your evidence manual? To be honest I didn’t even know what he was talking about and then I read on and thought, “That’s a great idea”! For those of you who don’t know what an Evidence Manual (EM) is basically it’s a “brag book” with pictures of happy customers and testimonials etc. I used to work with Saturn dealers and the one thing I loved about going to visit them is they all had pictures showering the showroom of happy customers and their new cars. What better way to build a potential buyers confidence then showing off all of the happy customers you have?? Jae went on to say that with today’s technology it’s even easier cause all you need is a camera, memory card and an electronic picture frame. Perfect! So all you have to do is take a picture with your happy customer as soon as they get the keys to their shiny new car and upload it to the electronic picture frame that is sitting on the front of your desk on the showroom floor and viola..instant customer testimonials!

I was browsing through the latest delivery of one of Dealer Communications eNewsletters when an article caught my eye – “Consumer Reports Index: Sentiment Plunges To Lowest Level Since December 2009”. Being a person who likes to look at surveys and statistics, I began to read through the article. The article contains survey data and analysis conducted by Consumer Reports around various categories including consumer outlook, financial troubles, employment, stress and purchase behavior. Besides being an interesting read, at least to me, the article also got me thinking about how this information could be used to help increase the marketing effectiveness of a business.

The overall findings in the Consumer Reports study are a bit depressing:
• Consumer sentiment dropped to 43.4 a 5.1 point drop in only one month – this indicates a more pessimistic consumer attitude toward their finances.
• Financial difficulties were reported 10 points higher than the previous month at 60.6 – indicating many more households are experiencing problems paying bills.
• The Employment Index fell to 49 another drop from the previous month and reportedly the largest monthly drop in 2 years.

So what got me thinking about marketing in the midst of all of these woeful numbers? By reading between the lines and looking at the secondary points within the article, you can find data on which categories are faring the best. While the overall consumer outlook is bad, the report indicates the most optimistic consumer groups are ages 18-34 and households with $100k or more income. Consumer retail behavior was actually up from the previous month despite the negative outlook. Vehicle purchases remained static month to month and forecast for new car purchases are expected to increase in following months. Looking at these points, it is possible to see where your marketing efforts and money might best be spent.

So how flexible are you in your marketing efforts? Are you able to review data such as this and make changes based on your analysis or are you locked into doing the same things month after month. I am not suggesting you should make a massive change to your philosophy based on a single article or report but imagine how much more efficient capitalizing on current situations would be. The phrase ‘throwing good money after bad’ comes to mind; being locked into committing time and money pursuing markets that are returning less and less results or are predicted to do so is counter-productive.

So take a look at this study and let us know what you think. How flexible are your marketing efforts and have you seen a return on investment from being flexible? If you wish to see the article in its original post, it can be found here: Consumer Reports

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