The Need for Speed: What Makes a Winner

Every year the Auto Retail Network (ARN) measures the top 50 car retail websites and top 20 car supermarkets sites and provides a score for the best websites in their annual Website Report. This score is based on how the sites perform on various criteria across desktop, tablet and mobile.

The score for the best franchise dealer went to Cambria, and the best car supermarket went to The Car People. As part of the scoring criteria, Mediahawk produce the mystery shop.

In this article we look at what makes for a winner in the tough world of automotive retailing.

The web forms a central part of an automotive retailers strategy

Your website needs to have all the necessary ingredients to engage and capture a customer:

  • Strong first impressions
  • Excellent used car search functionality
  • Quick to load
  • Device responsive

Once these have been created to a standard, the key objective is to drive a ‘call to action’.

Is your dealership sitting on leads?

As experts in measuring telephone response, the ARN ask us each year to mystery shop every website reviewed. This involves identifying a used vehicle and sending an enquiry on the vehicle between 7-8 pm on a Monday – Thursday, and then measuring the response times. A specific question is asked about the vehicle and we report on whether this question is answered.

The results were as follows:

  • 10% responded within one hour
  • 2% responded by the end of the night
  • 17% responded by 10am the next day
  • 17% responded by the end of the next day
  • 42% didn’t respond at all

A race against the competition

Customers have very short attention spans, and technology has conditioned us to expect an immediate response to enquiries.
This makes speed is crucial in two key areas:

  • Website load speed, and adapting to different devices
  • Speed of response to enquiries made from the website

The winners in automotive retailing are those that understand and drive this need for speed within their business.

Phone calls into dealerships are soaring

Whilst email and online form enquiries are important, they don’t deliver the bulk of enquiries from your website. These come via the telephone, and are increasing year on year.

Data from our automotive client base reveals that telephone enquiries represent 85% of leads, compared to 15% from email and online form enquiries.

So how do dealers perform with their all-important phone response?*

  • Dealers miss around 5% of their phone calls due to the number ringing out or being engaged. This figure increases dramatically at weekends, peaking at around 20% on a Sunday.
  • For every 1 sales call from a website, there are 9 service calls.
  • Only 80% of calls answered by a dealership reception actually make it to the correct person / department to answer the query.
  • The 20% of calls that don’t make it past reception are either taken as a message – or lost altogether.

Dealerships need to learn how to handle calls

Adequate staff numbers are essential to deal with and respond to the increasing call volumes. Where there are insufficient numbers, it’s important to review processes and remove any squeeze points that prevent calls being answered and handled efficiently.

The winners are the retailers that understand the importance of answering calls quickly, making sure calls are routed correctly, and ensuring that staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

Winners invest in phone training and measure their calls to isolate and deal with any problems in their call handling.

If you want to be a winner, focus on your page load speed and the speed of your response to enquiries.

Don’t just take our word for it! Look at the results of the web winners who understand the need for speed:

  • Cambria increased their return on sales (ROS) from 1.5% to 1.7% – up from 0.6% in 2012
  • The Car People ROS increased from 2.7% to 3.6%

We’ll happily show you how to introduce this speed ethic to the phone calls coming into your business and how to measure them to maximise your ROS

*We reviewed millions of calls from over 200 automotive retailers.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.