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Dealership Auto Responders

Discussion in 'Websites, SEO, SEM, Display, Social, Marketing' started by Mitch Gallant, Sep 27, 2009.

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  1. Mitch Gallant

    Mitch Gallant
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    I had a recent outcry to have the autoresponder turned back on at one of our stores. I had turned it off a while back after getting their commitment to respond within a minimum of 10 minutes to ALL leads.(and subsequently shopping our store 4-5 times to make sure it was happening) My thoughts where that with fast and info filled follow up the responder was unnecessary and probably annoying. To me its like the let down on Christmas morning to get all excited about a present under the tree, ripping it wide open and finding a note that says "Sorry, we didn't get your present yet, its in the mail and is slightly held up... but just wait, its totally worth it and you'll be very happy, we just wrapped this box so you'd have something to open."

    Lately, due to turnover we're back to developing the basics and our rep wants it turned on. Without giving up the farm on your tactics I'd love to hear some best practices for auto responders. What content has been the most effective for you and your team?
     
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  3. mattwatson81

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    Automated emails are very important to the success of your internet sales.

    For starters, an immediate auto responder is nice because it lets the customer know they received the request. It builds confidence that the dealership will respond.

    Auto responders also provide opportunity to provide information that they did not receive on the website they submitted the lead from. For example, your auto responder can automatically send pictures and brochures of the car they were interested in, links back to your website to view more info on that vehicle and even similar vehicles.

    Take this screen shot below as an example. This is from a real internet lead from one of our customers just a few minutes ago. Someone submitted an eBay lead on this Jeep Wrangler. It is Sunday and the dealership is closed, but the system can respond with a whole wealth of information. Now instead of the customer having one reason to contact you, they might have 3 or 4 and have now clicked on all these links and spent some time on your website.

    Think about how that compares to an auto responder that just says "Hey we're closed, call you tomorrow."


    [​IMG]


    Automated emails are also very important for long term follow up. Sometimes you don't get a customer's phone number or they won't take your phone call. But using you CRM you can tell they are reading your emails. So it is important to keep sending them information.

    Now think about 2 weeks later and you sold that Jeep Wrangler. Wouldn't it be nice to automatically email them some similar vehicles to that Jeep? Your inventory continues to change and so will the similar vehicles. You want to keep possible vehicles of interest in front of the customer. Maybe you got some more Jeeps in stock.
     
  4. mattwatson81

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    Another very powerful tactic is asking the customer questions in an effort to get them to engage with you.

    [CUSTOMER FIRST NAME] -

    My name is [SALESPERSON FULL NAME] and I will be personally handling your request for information on the [VEHICLE YEAR] [VEHICLE MAKE] [VEHICLE MODEL] . As a way of making this experience as "hassle free" as possible I wanted to know if there are any "must have" options you are looking for?

    An example of this is a specific Color, Automatic or Manual Transmission, Leather or Cloth interior.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be contacting you shortly.

    [SALESPERSON SIGNATURE]
     
  5. JohnScott

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    I would say ANY response is better than NO response. People want to know that their email got to the right address.

    If someone is a serious shopper I dont think the auto responder would bother them that much as long as its followed by a personal response ASAP.
     
  6. Jeff Kershner

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    Ahh, the age old question of the auto-responder. Funny coincidence..cars.com dealer advantage just posts a video on this. Nothing in the video other than a quick snippet of "How I should use an auto-responder".

    I believe the auto-responder can be a very powerful tool during business hours if you have the right message.

    The problem is most don't know WHAT to say in an email. Whether it be your auto-responder, first email or a simple follow-up email. What are you "SAYING" in your emails?

    Are you engaging the reader and grabbing their attention?
    Are you showing a sense of urgency to help the customer?
    Are you creating an urgency to buy?
    Are you motivating the customer to answer your emails?

    All of these elements can be formulated into a quick and easy to read email including your auto-response.

    I'll reference back to an older posting again... AIUA – 4 Letters That Will Sell You More Cars This Month
     
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  7. VJnator

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    Yep, the good old autoresponder. I have to admit, we still used them as well with our ILM. The reasons were a) Honda and Acura are requiring an immediate respond when the email inquiry arrives - b) BMW and MINI are following more and more the same route and c) depending on the lead load and incoming lead times it helped us to “win some time”. Important though is from the get go to show the prospect a differentiation in style and corporate identity. This will give him/her an idea, what he/she can expect in the stages of follow-up.

    In our autoresponse, we gave clearly some USP's out. I am not referring to the “all-mighty” "we have a huge inventory" or "we won't be undersold", etc.

    No these phrases belong to the episode of the “antique Road Show”, and won’t get you any edge. We attempted to make from the start pretty much clear that the recipient should have his/her COSTCO Member Number available (it can also be Sams Club, AAA, USAA, etc - you get the idea) and leave it close to the phone. The reason: The membership will save him additional money, and he/she will find out soon how much it could be through the upcoming telephone call from our Sales Associate XYZ. Worked Great!

    Further did we talk about our VIP parking spaces on the Hartsfield Jackson Airport, Atlanta, which would guarantee the customer free parking during his vacation and/or business travel - we would be even able to service his/her vehicle during this time, and when coming back from the tour the car is ready and cleaned to get taken home again.

    These were a couple of our approaches covered by the Auto-Responder. In the last weeks I looked into a new vendor solution, which helped me to “see”, which email was actually open (with real-time alert), and how the reader navigated through the email response (clicking links, watching video, etc.) Receiving this live alert helped us to secure the prospect right there on the computer, where most likely a phone is present as well and we could actively engage into the lead when it was really “hot”.
     
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  8. Walt Kustra

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    We use a pretty good bit of Auto Responders in our internet department, but have been regularly working on refining them to meet our (and our customers) needs. Since we use imagiclab, we have a pretty extensive library of auto responders scheduled to send out to our customers based on the type of lead they are when recieved. Sorted into groups such as internet lead on hours, internet lead off hours etc. These responders are pretty effective in getting an inital response from the lead. If we are having trouble reaching them by phone, the consistencey of the auto responders usually ellicits some type of response by the thrid or fourth email. Obviously, this is why we use them.

    What we noticed was in certain situations, when the lead asks a specific question, the auto responders seem vauge and off point. What we did was create a few custom templates to answer some frequently asked questions and get the customer the answers to their questions in a much simpler, more efficient manner. Some of the templates we created included one with directions to our store, one with contact numbers, one asking for a better number to reach them at, one asking if someone has contacted them by phone yet, and so on. These templates save our coordinators a lot of time typing personalized emails so they can spend more time trying to get live prospects on the phone. Im personally a big advocate of sending personalized emails when a prospect asks a direct question that cannot be answered any other way except by personal email and the prospect cannot be reached on the phone.

    The real issue here is time management and how we as a department can best balance our time between the phone and the keyboard. Auto responders are great to send out while your making your calls and actively trying to reaach these prospects, but in some cases when the phone may not be an option, a personal email is your best bet. My suggestion would be to treat each lead on an individual basis. Let the auto responders work on your behalf and continue to try and contact customers you have not been able to get on the phone. Try a personal email if the auto responder is not getting you anywhere and you cant reach them on the phone. At the end of the day, if the customer sees you are making a legitmate effort to contact them in response to their query and answer their questions to the best of your knowledge, your chances of turning that lead into an appointment will be much greater.
     
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    #7 Walt Kustra, Sep 29, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2009
  9. mattwatson81

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    So what solution did you end up with that did this?

    I know VinSolutions and iMagicLab do it for sure.
     
  10. Alex Snyder

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    With Internet departments under-staffed and an increasing need for a consumer to do more online before visiting auto-responders are a necessary evil.

    If you have a solution (CRM or ILM) that will allow you to fine tune your auto responders based on different criteria - where the lead originated, the car it is on, etc you can make auto-responders work better.
     

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