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Does Text Messaging work for Dealers?

WillMcG32

Lot Lizard
Apr 7, 2011
70
20
First Name
Will
I just saw a post for a presenter at the upcoming Digital Dealer Conference that will be:

"providing
engaging content for using SMS at a Dealership. Simple but clearly presented examples of how to integrate your text marketing campaign into your dealership could improve your customer draw and retention."

I'm curious. Are dealers using this technology still and does it work? I for one don't think I would ever text for more information.

 
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kevinfrye

Sr. Refresher
Apr 7, 2009
250
164
First Name
Kevin
As per text message marketing - I have seen little to none of it, especially with the big players in industry (eg. McDonalds who collected a ton on text addresses, but did not use them). I know there were serious legal concerns about marketing via text messages, and many companies were avoiding it until they knew it was legally safe.

With that said, we have found that if you are able to text directly with a potential shopper (using compliant opt-in/opt-out tools that many CRMs can provide for you), the odds of you closing that shopper significantly rise. We have only seen about 7% of our shoppers that want to text, but when they do, they buy at a much higher rate than our average closing rate. This makes sense as most people see texting as a more personal relationship than email, and if they are texting with you, they are more likely to like you, and trust you, and buy from you...
 

WillMcG32

Lot Lizard
Apr 7, 2011
70
20
First Name
Will
Kevin,

Thank you for the insight. You bring up some great points. I agree that once the introduction is made and you're able to text with a shopper that the closing percentage would rise. I'm with you on text message marketing. I just can't imagine, as a consumer, starting the engagement with a text. Thanks again.
 

JesseJ

Full Sticker
Mar 22, 2011
113
5
First Name
Jesse
I've findly found a better method...or perhaps just better timing as far as text messaging goes. Every presentation I've attended in the last couple of years hammers home the idea that you should be texting your customers. I have in the past sent a quick text to a customer I have yet to receive a return email or return phone call from. I've never once received a response and I'm not surprised.

This is the one scenario in which I've found texting effective for getting the process going with a prospect. I have a google voice number set up on my phone and a separate voicemail that greeting identifying it as a business line while also noting that it is my cell phone and that I'm happy to receive texts. I do receive a number of calls after business hours and obviously I can't get every single one. I've had quite a few customers (since changing my voicemail) neglect to leave a message but instantly send me a text after hanging up. If I'm at the gym for instance, I'm unlikely to pick up a work call but it's no problem to send/receive a quick text.

The other scenario would be that they leave a quick voicemail. I listen to the message whenever I get a chance, rather than calling them back at say 8pm at night, I'll send a quick text saying I received there voicemail and I address any questions they have. If I can't at the time I just assure them they will have the information requested first thing in the morning. I'd say I receive a text back 80% of the time in these scenarios.

Obviously this isn't anything earth-shattering. However, there are quite a few customers who simply can't email or call during business hours. This prevents the constant phone tag and allows you to get in touch whereas they might otherwise be lost in the shuffle from days of back and forth voicemails.
 

JessicaRuth

3rd Base Coach
Nov 4, 2012
464
106
First Name
Jessica
Don't put text messaging to bed yet. I love this at the dealership.

It's easy, like Will said, to think there's no way texting customers would work - but it does. And, like Jesse said, your customers might not answer an email or phone call but easily can text.

Think beyond the buying for a minute....What could you do with a text marketing campaign for fixed ops? Those possibilities are endless.
 

kevinfrye

Sr. Refresher
Apr 7, 2009
250
164
First Name
Kevin
Jesse, I applaud your efforts, but I would be very cautious.

If you are selling cars for Latham Ford, then you are a representative of Latham Ford. A business must legally provide an opt in and opt out process with each text it sends, or a shopper can potentially litigate that you are incurring charges on their cell phone and more. While many sales reps are using their personal cell phones with the best intent, it is not compliant. Business is different than personal.

I am not sure which CRM tool you are using, but many have a texting feature that is inexpensive and allows you to text your shoppers through the CRM tool, and the initial text includes opt-in, and follow on texts always allow the shopper to opt out, so that you are compliant.

Hope that humble advice helps, and thanks for your insight!
 
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yagoparamo

Boss
Dec 30, 2009
1,892
494
First Name
Yago
So there are several ways to sue TXT message:

The advertising way: Text "MYFORD" to 224455 and get information about the new F150 rebate". That is a campaign driving system that intends to collect customer's cell phones.

Then there is the campaign done by collecting or matching cell phones from service customers and soliciting them.

Both of them are sketchy in terms of the legalities and whether they will work or customers will get annoyed if you contact them. BTY a quick search in Automotive news will show a recent expensive settlement by Lithia ($4M) for a text campaign.

Another way to look at text is to use it like chat, email, or a phone number in your website. I sue text a lot, in part because people that don't know me sometimes have a hard time getting my accent and part because when I have a quick question like "do you still have the red and green f150?" I would rather text and get and answer than establishing a long conversation.

I'm surprised that dealers have not adopted this to reach out to the new generations, specially those in metro areas. Buy an iPhone (Spring is $99/month flat) and have it in the Internet department just like you have any other communications tool in there. It will work.
 

johno

Lot Lizard
Sep 15, 2011
19
3
First Name
John
Yago
You said “Another way to look at text is to use it like chat, email, or a phone number in your website”.


The same thought occurred to me some time ago regarding texting within an individual vehicle sales advertisement. Not everyone is comfortable sending in an email lead, but texting is so now and happening. So we built an iframe module that displays in the sales ad and asks the customer “do you have questions … send us a text message …”

This module backend is built as a hybrid email/text module. The message the customer enters is sent as a text message to our sales manager’s phone and as a backup, as email to myself. (An email backup is just in case the Blackberry phone is not working, as it has happened twice that we had to replace his phone, and it took a couple days to be replaced). The sales manager forwards the text message to the sales person he wishes to handle the lead. The choice is then to text or simply call the person. Right now we average about one text lead a day, while not a high volume it’s a great way to start the conversation with the person who is interested as they contacted us first.

The vehicle “stock number” and “make information” is included automatically with the text, so we know what they are interested in.


Here is a sample text we received today where the customer even included their email.

[George Van###, 519-###-9764] Stk #33512A 2011 Avenger: I would be interested in seeking this vehicle type or anything else you could assist with. I am looking for $1000 down payment with tradein of 2001 Pontiac Grand Am GT. In case there are other newer vehicles you could assist with.
email:
georgev##@gmai#.com



John O.
 
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ewalraven

Rust & Dust
Mar 23, 2010
168
32
First Name
Delete
I just see text messaging work for dealers for stuff like confirming appointments, but communicating back and forth via TXT on price negotiating and trying to set the appointment just seems like pain to me.

Though, if a customer INITIATES the conversation. That's a whole different story.

By no means do I think this is a "game changer", but offering this as a line of communication wouldn't hurt. Then again, in a perfect world, wouldn't it be nice to get in contact with the dealer via skype, gchat, twitter, tango, and FaceTime?
 
Get Podium
Jan 2, 2013
19
2
First Name
nick
As a method of continuing a conversation it's an amazing tool, but for starting one I haven't seen a great system just yet.