Richard Featured in Automotive News: Dealers should respond to questions quickly or internet shoppers will leave

Publication: Automotive News
Date: January 27, 2014
Author: David Barkholz

Nine months ago, Sun Chevrolet Inc. in the Syracuse, N.Y., area created a business development center to handle Internet leads and phone calls for the Chevrolet store and two used-vehicle stores, said owner Todd Caputo. The center now has 14 employees, including a manager.

Caputo said he puts such a premium on fast and detailed responses to leads that two center employees now work from home on Sundays so prospects don’t have to wait until after the weekend to get the information they desire. Last year the Chevrolet store sold 575 new vehicles.

Internet leads get a response by e-mail within 15 minutes, including prices for vehicles identified by the prospect as well as three certified-used vehicles that might meet the sender’s needs, he said.

The store then has processes in place to contact the prospect up to five additional times by phone or e-mail to see if the dealership can assist the shopper, Bustillo said.
Bustillo said for the most part dealers have the software to aid them in following up with customers. But too many lack the discipline or processes to hold salespeople to account for contacting prospects promptly with relevant information.

He said dealerships in the large metropolitan areas, in particular, just have the old mind-set that showroom traffic will come regardless of the Internet.
Bustillo said: “They take it for granted. That’s good for us.”