Dealer Insights - May/June 2012 - Dealer Digest

May 01, 2012


The number of online sales leads your dealership will receive this year could jump by as much as 15% to 20% over 2011, according to the latest Automotive Franchise Activity Report from retail consultants Urban Science. The average dealer might expect leads to rise from 75 to 85 per brand per month.

With the volume of leads expected to swell, it’s a good time to refresh your memory about how to effectively manage online leads. Urban Science suggests these best practices:

  • Respond to online inquiries quickly — in less than one hour — and supply a price quote on the vehicle the customer inquired about,
  • Confirm that the vehicle requested is available in a range of offerings,
  • Give the customer information on alternative vehicles in a similar price range, and
  • Offer the customer the next steps in the shopping process, such as coming in for a test drive. 

Urban Science estimates that as much as 30% of OEM retail sales originate from online leads. With that track record, it pays to keep your eyes on lead follow-up.


When it comes to customer service, dealerships in large metro areas should emulate dealerships in small towns, a Ford executive recently pointed out. And that’s a philosophy that can be applied to dealerships of any brand.

“We want the large dealers to step up and do what the small guys do,” Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president–global marketing, sales and service, told Lincoln dealers at the recent National Automobile Dealers Association convention. “It’s a reversal of sorts because auto makers typically urge small-town dealers to emulate some of the things metro dealers do.”

Consider whether your dealership gives customers the kind of personal touch they’d receive in Small Town, USA. From how salespeople handle customers in the showroom to how service technicians explain repair work, small town values — such as honesty, friendliness and concern — have merit in any locale.

Sales of used vehicles by dealerships outpaced used vehicle sales by private parties in 2011, according to Manheim Consulting’s recently released Used Car Market Report. Franchised dealers sold slightly more than 13.8 million units, an 8% climb over 2010, and independent dealers sold slightly less than that amount, enjoying a 6% increase. During the same period, private party sales climbed only 1%, to 11.2 million units.

Manheim attributed the dealership gain in market share to the “top dollars” offered by dealers for used cars and to dealership financing opportunities.

Dealer Insights - May/June 2012 Issue 

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