The final quarter of the year is always difficult in automotive retail when everything goes quiet and dealers try not to lose the profits they have made throughout the year. As a result, there’s often a downbeat feeling but this year the negativity is worse than normal. This has been driven by the reduction in the overall market year on year and the build-up of forced registrations. But is everything so bad?
The answer, in reality, is no.
The positive news is that customers are still ringing to enquire about cars and there is still significant demand out there.
Compared to the financial crash of 2008, automotive retail is doing well. However, since 2008 there has been a significant change in the tolerance of customers to how they are dealt with. Their experiences with other industries – technology for instance – has made them impatient while expecting five-star service.
The challenge retailers face is that many have not changed their processes sufficiently to keep up with customer expectations. Retailers who have woken up to this changed reality have amended their processes accordingly and are now taking a proportionally large share of overall sales.
What have they done to achieve this?
The secret is a razor-sharp focus on managing sales leads – and implementing the technology to manage them. We know from our recent Autotrader study that over 62% of sales enquiries come from a phone call (compared to 21% by live chat, and 17% by email), therefore call tracking is critical to managing the sales process.
Successful inbound call tracking is not about counting calls – it is significantly more sophisticated. In real-time, dealers can now track their calls to unique visitors on their website, what page they are calling from, and then to their spend. The data can then be further analysed using call recording and CRM matching. It’s the point when a phone call enters the dealership that some of the greatest challenges arise. Using data from five of the AM Top 20 dealerships we discover that on average:
- Dealers miss 5% of their calls due to it ringing out or being engaged
- 20% of the calls do not get past reception to the sales teams
- 65% of the calls do not get onto the DMS within 24 hours of the initial enquiry
If you can improve these metrics, there’ll be a significant benefit to your retail sales. Furthermore, with call tracking you will have a strong understanding of your cost per lead and cost per sale. Without any (or worse, basic tracking), you will be flying blind and not able to make sure you are one of the dealerships who are retaining or growing sales in a negative environment.
If you currently feel that it is the end of the world as you know it with your sales, then maybe it is time to review your processes to feel fine.