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Multitasking shoppers need digital marketing strategy

Automotive Marketing: How to Win Over Multitasking Shoppers – Part 1

Do you ever have those days where you have a million things to do and haven’t the slightest idea how to get it all done other than to do multiple things at once?

If you answered yes, you might not be surprised to learn that your online shoppers have this problem too. Time is of the essence, and we’re all busy, busy, busy. But to gain more business from the busy crowd, your dealership needs to find ways to grab their attention and make their time worthwhile.

So how do you accomplish this? It’s simple. You offer your shoppers ways to get their other tasks done while they are trying to buy a car or service, and as a result – you win their business! Let’s take a look at a few ways how your dealership might effectively execute an automotive marketing strategy to win more sales and service appointments from today’s multitaskers:

Cater to Second-Screening Consumer Behavior

According to J.D. Power, 53% of consumers use mobile for their automotive research, and that number will undoubtedly increase. Always-on consumers are inherent multitasking shoppers, and to sell to them, you need a mobile marketing strategy.

User-Friendly Mobile Websites

Today’s distracted shoppers prefer mobile-friendly sites that they can browse while watching TV or doing other tasks. A responsive mobile site saves them time, they don’t have to switch devices to interact, and it requires the least effort to find information fast. While (hopefully) the vast majority of automotive websites are already mobile-friendly, they need to be user-friendly as well. Your multitasking car buyers don’t have the attention span to struggle with a bad user experience.

Looking for tips on making your dealership’s mobile site more user-friendly? Check out our FREE eBook: Is Your Dealership Website Mobile-Ready?

Chat with Mobile Shoppers

A responsive mobile website isn’t completely effortless without live chat. Adding a chat or text button to your mobile site allows shoppers to get their questions answered quickly, their decision made, appointment scheduled, and get back to watching their show or doing the other hundred things they have to do in no time at all. Once you turn on mobile conversations, be sure to follow proper mobile chat etiquette. The wrong conversation will drive your busy customers away. Check out “6 Dos and Don’ts of Mobile Conversations” for helpful chat tips.

Appeal to Omni-Channel, Multitasking Shoppers

Car buying is almost a fully omni-channel experience. Your car buyers typically switch between online and offline channels 4 times during the shopping process. Your digital marketing strategy needs to expand beyond your website and traditional advertising. Social media advertising, SEM, and 3rd-party websites are just some of the many options available to your customers when they research vehicles. Successful dealers will capitalize on these new digital sales opportunities by being present — and, they’ll interact with shoppers on these channels.

The era of “traditional chat” is over. Your multitasking shoppers are most likely toggling between Facebook, Craigslist, and your website while they research. Be there when they find your inventory. ActivEngage, for example, lets your team (or ours) chat with busy shoppers wherever they are — social media, search results, digital ads, 3rd-party sites, etc.

The right chat solution will help you broaden your reach while catering to the needs of today’s shoppers. It’s a win for you and a win for your customers, which is precisely what you want!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

accountability at the dealership

Accountability: A Manager’s Way to Success

Accountability in the workplace is the paramount method to success. In order to justify your decisions as an owner or manager of a dealership, you have to be able to show the reasons why you are doing something, and so do all of your employees.

If there is an action without a reason, there is no accountability for that action. In all departments of your dealership, actions occur every day that impact your business as a whole. You need to keep track of those actions and how they affect your success.

Ways to Be More Accountable

Set Goals

Goals should be made for all levels of the dealership. What are your Sales goals this month? How much do you expect to receive in return from your marketing efforts? What are your customer service standards that all employees should be following? Goals should be clearly defined and measurable, so that a record can be made to ensure all goals are being met.

Look at the Data

If you don’t know what your goals are or need a better way to understand what your goals should be, look at the data. If you have a way of measuring success and performance, you can easily see where any errors might be occurring, where improvements can be made, or how to excel better at what you are already doing.

One way to find those improvements is through measuring your ROI. You need to track each lead from its origination point to the end sale. Once you are tracking each of your lead sources and the results they provide, you can see which investments were most effective in making a sale and increasing your dealership’s success, and which were less effective in producing results.

Do you have data that can tell if your sales staff is performing at the level they should be? Do they have a sales quota to meet by the end of the month? Are they expected to follow up with customers who recently purchased? Are you keeping track of these expectations?

Discuss Your Expectations

Each position in the dealership has a role to play, and they have specific responsibilities that must be carried out for you all to be successful. You need to communicate your expectations with your employees and make sure they understand their role and what is expected of them to achieve the goals you have set for them.

At ActivEngage, our Chat Specialists go through a monthly check-in process to look at areas of improvement. The rep can then go about implementing the necessary changes throughout the next month, and see how their performance improves. A true professional admits their mistakes and weak areas, and seeks to correct them. We are all professionals, aren’t we?

Also, it is good to note that encouragement before criticism is always best. In those monthly meetings you should address not only what your employee needs improvement on, but you should also let them know what they are doing well. This enhances your employees drive for intrinsic incentives, which are their internal motivators for doing a better job, improving a skill, or making a customer’s experience even better with passion for the work they are performing.

How to Maintain Accountability

Incentives are what motivates people to be accountable and to sustain or improve performance. You can approach maintaining accountability by offering certain incentives for employees who are meeting the goals to keep them motivated. However, there are two different kinds of incentives:

Extrinsic Incentives:

  • Fear of loss (e.g. – loss of a client, money, job, or a business)
  • Hope of gain
  • Rewards
  • Recognition

Intrinsic Incentives:

  • Improving Skills
  • Personal Interest
  • Enjoyment

Most people who are intrinsically motivated are usually already accountable, because they love what they do and are interested in making their work better. Employees may need extrinsic incentives if they do not have an internal motivation to do well, or if they feel they need some kind of reward to demonstrate and accentuate that their performance is worthy of attention and praise by others.

Accountability Builds Trust

When you create an environment of accountability, where your employees know what you expect and they understand how their work affects the dealership’s success, you build a mutual trust between the manager and the employee to ensure that work is done, and done appropriately. You’ll be able to hold your employees responsible for the work that they do, and they can also give you feedback on what they think is no longer working on the manager’s end.

Everyone is accountable to something. Even an owner of a dealership is accountable to that dealership’s success and for providing the tools to the managers and other employees to perform their jobs in a way that improves the business as a whole. It should be a collective decision to be accountable in order to deliver the results you are looking for and to reach your potential as a truly successful business.

Hire millennials at the car dealership

4 Reasons Your Dealership Should Hire a Millennial Workforce

Generation Y has gotten a bad rep over the past few years, however there are some distinct characteristics that should not be overlooked when considering them to be a part of your dealership’s staff.

The following characteristics are advantages that could increase your bottom line, so listen up!

All About That Tech

Millennials are tech savvy. They grew up during the birth of the World Wide Web, and they aren’t afraid to use it. Computers, smartphones, tablets. Websites and Apps. If it’s digital, they’re masters at it.

As automotive retail becomes fully immersed in digital engagement, it’s more important than ever to have people on your team who know how to use the digital tools to engage with their own generation, the people of older generations who are picking it up, and those who come after them.

Whether you’re looking for a marketing professional to ensure your dealership’s name is forefront in online consumers’ minds or a Salesperson who could upsell on the latest in-car tech features, hiring a millennial who knows technology will be invaluable.

Play Nice With Others

Although Generation Y loves self-expression and individuality, according to the Millennial Generation Research Review by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, they also prefer a collaborative work environment.

Hiring millennials could be the best thing that ever happened to your team. As long as management keeps their walls down, and you invite them and their ideas in, they’ll help you bring your dealership together into a more unified whole. Millennials will keep your business working like the oiled machine it should be where all parts work together toward a common goal – because that’s the kind of environment what they want!

They’ll also be great at working together with customers! What’s not to like?

Up on the Up-and-Up

Millennials are familiar with the changing trends, because they are fully immersed in them. They are also the driving force behind a lot of them. Therefore, they’ll be great at giving you insight into how to change your business to accommodate these trends.

Take the current mobile trend for example. Millennials sleep with their smartphones and check them about43 times a day. They get updated on trending topics faster than any other generation out there.

If you want to be a cutting-edge dealership, you need millennials on your side.

They <3 Their Job

Millennials prefer meaningful work. They search for a place, people, and a career that they can really be passionate about.

Millennials will not only go the extra mile if they love working for you, but the passion for their work will reflect positively in your bottom line.

So in order to attract millennials and show that you can provide them with a place they will love to work, be sure to highlight your dealership’s culture as fun, caring for the community, and a place where your team truly loves to spend their days.

car dealership employees holidays

Avoid Post-Holiday Blues and Boost Employee Morale

I hate to be the one to say it, but (once again) the holidays are practically over. The excitement of gift-giving and receiving dies down, and we forget about the famous annual ball-drop.

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As you go back to your daily routine, it’s important not to lose momentum. Leverage the holiday atmosphere to kick off the new year on the right foot!

Here are three ways you can avoid the post-holiday blues and boost dealership employee morale:

Have a holiday recap meeting.

A post-holiday team meeting can be an excellent time to de-stress by allowing your staff to recap how the holidays went both at home and at work.

Ask your team to bring in some leftover goodies (you know the ones I’m talking about!) as kind of a last hurrah before you dive into the new year. Then have everyone share what they did on their time off and what their favorite part of the holidays was.

By reflecting on how great the past few weeks went, your team will see how those days off with friends and family gave them time to rest. Then, you can use this momentum to provide them with a good old-fashioned “New Year, New Dealership” pep-talk.

Help them accomplish a new year’s resolution.

We know that New Year’s resolution #1 is usually a variation of losing weight, eating right, or taking better care of our bodies. So, why not help your team accomplish that by incorporating healthy practices into your dealership’s routine?

Keep in mind that your staff will include people with a variety of likes and dislikes, as well has different fitness levels — you don’t want to make anyone feel bad or left out. So try to think of creative ways to accommodate all your employees.

Here are a few examples:

  • Join a league of office sports teams like kickball or basketball

  • Provide corporate discounts to fitness classes

  • Have free healthy snack options in the break room

  • Start a jogging group that exercises together before or after work hours

The point is to help your employees help themselves — which will inherently serve your dealership. The added benefits of leading a healthier lifestyle will improve their performance at work. It will keep your staff safer from getting “that bug going around,” it will boost their energy, improve their self-esteem — and increase their productivity!

Now, about those leftover goodies at the recap meeting….how about some tasty fruit and green tea instead?

Lead them by example.

As a manager and leader, your team will look to you for guidance and motivation, which is why your mindset should be confident, encouraging, and positive — especially if you want to start 2015 off with a bang!

It all boils down to showing your staff that you can not only talk the talk — but also walk the walk. I recently read an Entrepreneur article on leading by example, in which the author expresses the importance of INSPIRING others to follow you, instead of merely telling them to.

So how exactly can you lead by example and motivate your employees this new year? Here are a few ways:

  1. Try your hardest to keep your word. Delivering on your promises will build your credibility as a leader — especially when you’re in a position where your actions can potentially affect the dealership’s bottom line.

  1. Hold yourself accountable for your actions. Acknowledge failures as a part of development. This will show your resilience, and make it okay for your team to learn from their mistakes.

  1. Create solutions to problems. When your employees come to you with work-related issues, offer them your wisdom and knowledge. By showing them you are a problem-solver, you are teaching your staff to be problem-solvers too.

  2. Roll up your sleeves. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it’s also effective. Employees will respect leaders who can share in the sacrifices they ask others to make — the ones who aren’t afraid to practice what they preach.

In the end…

Try to remember that the holidays bring a whirlwind of emotions like excitement and anxiety. So returning to the usual routine — and probably a much quieter workplace — is inevitably going to dampen some spirits.

Be understanding of your employees. Don’t become frustrated when some employees are a bit lagged in spirits. As a leader, you must ensure you set reasonable and achievable goals for your team’s motivation and performance. Set high, but sensible standards of excellence — then help your staff achieve it!

Emotional intelligence sells more cars

Emotion + Information = Expert Selling

They say people buy with their emotions. However, what actually happens is a mix between influential information and emotional cues.

MarketingProfs provides some great insight about the different degrees of emotion and logic in the buying process. In this article, they discuss how the beginning and aftermarket stages of the buying cycle are the most emotionally-driven; once shoppers get closer to the sale, they start to become more logical and transactional.

Shoppers need a a combination of getting the information they need to make a decision, as well as a positive experience at every touchpoint of their research.

So, how does your dealership effectively deliver both information and emotion to shoppers throughout their research process, buying cycle, and your aftermarket communications?

How to Balance Informational and Emotional Selling:

  1. Review your video advertising campaigns. Does your advertising give people the warm and fuzzies? Does it make them laugh? Or is it purely informational? You want a mix to draw the most shoppers to your website and your store.

Oak Lawn Toyota’s viral video, which could be slightly more informational, definitely hits on emotional selling – and it also answers three questions for shoppers:

  • “Whose advertising is it?” (Oak Lawn Toyota).

  • “What can I do there?” (Buy a car for someone special for the holiday season).

  • “Why should I do it?” (Because research says Toyota is top-notch, because I like parody videos that make me smile better than standard commercials, and the people at Oak Lawn Toyota are probably awesome to work with).

  1. Check your social media personality. What kind of information are you providing? Are you including both fun and informational details? Remember that people will interact with your social site at any point in the relationship with your store. You need to have content that’s relevant, helpful, and emotionally stimulating for both shoppers and current customers alike.

As a good example, check out Longo Toyota’s Facebook Page!

  1. Assess your website’s design. Is your site easy to navigate and find information? Having a unified layout with clear call-to-actions and directional cues can be very helpful for the logical shopper to locate the information they need.

Also, what kind of colors are you using? Color and website clutter can have an emotional impact on the shopper. Pay attention to how you setup the aesthetics of your site to ensure you deliver a positive emotional selling message.

  1. Personalize your staff page. Your website’s staff page is a place where you can start showing the different personalities of your team. You can make it fun while still professional, and start to connect emotionally with your shoppers by discussing your team’s interests and what makes them each unique to work with.

For an example of an excellent staff page, check out Hagerstown Honda. When you move your mouse over the staff images, they reveal something personal about each team member!

  1. Use an expert live chat service on your website. Live chat can provide the emotional support that someone is “there for me” on your site, while also being helpful by answering the questions a shopper needs quickly.

*Note: Be careful about who you choose to represent your dealership on your website. If your live chat reps don’t have the emotional selling know-how, your sales could suffer rather than grow.

  1. Get personal with your emails. People love when you relate to them on a personal level, and it’s emotionally positive to get a personalized email. It shows you took the time to make someone feel special, while also ensuring they get the information they need.

  1. Train your staff about the importance of tone. The tone of your emails, phone calls, and conversations in person affects the emotional impact you have on your shoppers.

Emotional and Informational Needs Are Not 50/50

It’s also important to realize that every customer is different. Some shoppers are more emotionally-driven, and others are more logical when it comes to their purchase. You have to pay attention to what they say and how they interact in your communications.

For shoppers who talk a lot and give you their life story about: why they need a new car (for their ten kids, two dogs, and all their ski gear) or what exactly happened to their bumper (and how sad they are that their life long partner-on-wheels is injured), you’re going to appeal more to their emotions.

Encourage their decision on a new vehicle. Sympathize with shoppers about the bumper and assure them that their vehicle is in good hands. Tell them more about who you are and about your certified staff, and relate to them on a personal level in your communications.

For the shoppers who just want the facts, get that information to them as quickly as possible. Don’t waste time with any extraneous details! Be as “to the point” as they are, and you’re sure to win their favor.

When you have the right balance between emotion and information in your automotive marketing and sales process, shoppers will love buying from you. And they’ll refer more friends and family to your store!

Make dealership holidays more merry

5 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer to Your Dealership’s Employees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but it can also be the most hectic as your dealership plans for the next. These long days at work can make your staff feel like it’s not quite the holidays.

But you can change this dreary feeling, and shuffle in some holiday spirit at your dealership! Here are 5 easy ways you can help spread cheer and appreciation to your dealership’s staff:

1. Decorate the Office

One of the simplest ways to spread holiday cheer at your dealership is to put up festive decorations in the office!

Your employees spend long days at the dealership — sometimes they spend most of their day at work. Make them feel more at home by buying holiday decorations and encouraging them to bring in their own!

You can even make decorating the dealership an event by setting a date and time for all employees to decorate as a team! Here’s an easy way to set up a decorating event:

  1. Share the “Holiday Decorating Extravaganza” event on everyone’s calendars

  2. Have all the decorations at the office ready to go a week or so before the event

  3. Bring in edible goodies (cookies, drinks, candy canes, etc.) the day of the event

  4. Play some festive holiday music!

Easy-peasy, right? Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive or boring — in fact it can actually be fun and good for your employees. Use this small activity as an opportunity to enhance your dealership’s culture and reward your staff for a great year’s work.

Also, be sure to check out this Buzzfeed article for some decorating DON’TS and a good laugh!

2. Have a Gift Exchange

Another way to help your employees embrace the spirit of camaraderie is to host a gift exchange at your dealership.

Gifting is a simple way to show gratitude, goodwill, and appreciation towards others — so why not spread the joy in the workplace by hosting a “Secret Santa” exchange!

While I’ve heard reasons to avoid gift exchanges, such as people not receiving their gifts or employees not participating for economic reasons, a well-structured exchange can help you avoid that!

Here are some simple considerations to ensure a successful gift exchange:

  • Have a price limit  for the cost of gifts. Ask for pricing suggestions from employees, and then set an explicit limit in the rules.

  • Set deadlines for employees to bring in gifts to avoid any mishaps where some employees don’t receive a gift!

  • Have employees list 3 gifts they would like on the paper that goes into the Santa hat, so that the person who picks their name knows what they like.

  • OR set fun gift rules like homemade-only gifts, edibles-only gifts, or whatever-fits-in-a-holiday-mug-only gifts.

3. Host a Team Dinner

Few things bring people together the way food does — especially during the holidays.

Pecan pie, cranberry sauce, eggnog, and more pecan pie. It’s the best time of the year to eat and be merry. The best part about a holiday meal is that you can have it at home AND at work!

Treating your dealership’s employees to a holiday dinner is an easy way to spend quality time with your team, relax, and enjoy an excuse to eat a delicious holiday meal.

Depending on your budget, some of your dinner options could include:

  • Making reservations at a nice restaurant and taking your team out for dinner

  • Having food catered at the dealership (or a nice venue)

  • Hosting a holiday potluck where everyone brings in a home-cooked dish

Allow your employees to bring a piece of home to work (literally!) by allowing them to share a meal and bond during the holidays.

4. Give Back to the Community

Earlier this year, I mentioned 4 great reasons why your dealership’s team should volunteer and give back to the community — and a big reason is that giving back boosts employee morale and well-being.

I find this especially important during the holidays, when work days seem a little longer.

In the spirit of spreading cheer this season, why not encourage your team to make a positive impact in your local neighborhood?

Allow your team to volunteer at a local non-profit organization for the homeless, host a clothing and toy drive for less fortunate children, have your team write holiday letters to troops overseas…there are so many little ways to make a big difference for others during the holidays.

If you’re raising funds, get creative! Host an “Ugly Sweater Day”, where your employees pay $2 to wear the ugliest holiday sweater and jeans — and have the proceeds go towards your charity of choice.

The point is to empower your employees to give back and feel great about making a positive change in your community.

5. Give Employees Some ‘Family Time’

As I previously mentioned, many of your dealership’s employees put in a lot of hours at work, which can make finding a work-life balance difficult for them during the holidays.

Consider that some of your employees may live far from home, or that they may have to work longer days and see their family less.

So give your employees the best gift this season: time for family. Here are three ways you can thoughtfully give your team some much-needed family time at the dealership:

  • Schedule short video conference opportunities for employees to call family and friends that live too far to see in person.

  • Provide holiday cards, envelopes, and stamps for your team to send greeting cards to their loved ones. You can even purchase inexpensive e-card options instead!

  • Offer them a day of childcare so employees who are parents can get some holiday shopping done.

Little acts of kindness and acknowledgement towards your staff will go a long way this season. Remember dealership holidays aren’t just for handing out those bonuses — it’s a time for giving and showing your staff appreciation for all of their hard work this past year!

6 DO’s and DON’Ts for Incoming Dealership Phone Calls

Incoming calls are some of the hottest leads for a dealership. However, if best practices aren’t in place, these calls can turn from a blessing to a tragic mess. And bad phone practices will negatively affect your reputation, your customer loyalty, and the acquisition of new customers.

So in today’s blog, we’ll discuss some do’s and don’ts your dealership staff needs to keep in mind when they receive incoming calls.

#1: DO – Please, please, please – Answer the Phone!

According to a recent study by Marchex, when shoppers search for cars, service, or parts on their mobile phones and then call a dealership, 1 in 6 calls are not picked up. That’s about 16% of mobile shoppers who, right off the bat, are indirectly told to look elsewhere, because “we’re too busy to answer the phone.”

I know it may sound harsh, but that’s exactly what your customer thinks when you don’t pick up the phone. “You don’t have time for me.”

No one wants to make this wrong impression and lose so many opportunities.

So what can you do about it?

Step 1: Measure your team’s phone performance to see how many incoming calls you are missing.

Step 2: If you find that a lot of calls go unanswered, it may be time to segment your team so that you have a dedicated group answering the phones and setting up appointments, and another team which closes the sale or takes care of the service when the customer comes in.


#2: DON’T Transfer the Shopper to the Wrong Rep

Sometimes, shoppers expect to speak to a particular person but end up getting transferred to someone else.

For example: A friend of mine called the service department of a dealership that was part of an auto group the other day. She asked for the Service Manager and was instead transferred to the primary auto group number.

This is not helpful to the shopper, and can create frustration and abandonment.

To prevent abandonment during transfers, make sure to double-check your processes for transferring:

  • Are the numbers correct?

  • Are they routing properly?

  • Have you accounted for any recent terminations or additions to your team and adjusted your internal phone list accordingly?


You want to ensure the shopper has a seamless, happy experience on the phone talking to the right rep, and the only way this can happen is if your processes are functioning properly.


#3: DO – Pay Attention to Your Tone

Unlike chat where word choice and punctuation imply tone, phones calls rely on the inflection of your voice.

It’s important to pay attention to how your tone, and word choice, affects your shopper’s experience. And one way to do this is to listen first to how the shopper sounds when they speak.

If your shopper seems excited, mirror that excitement in your voice.

If your shopper seems upset, take a more concerned tone.

Manipulating your tone is an art that all of your phone-suing staff should know. However, some people have more practice than others, and it’s important to find any weaknesses in your methods and fix them.

If you’re a manager: In the case with tone, this is an issue that sometimes needs an outsider’s ears to confirm that corrective measures must be taken.

For example, if you see you’re getting comments about your staff’s tone in reviews, consider setting up a surprise evaluation of your staff’s phone performance.

And better yet – you should have a process in place to monthly check your staff’s phone calls for quality. Don’t tell them when it will be, just let them know that you’ll be checking in on them from time to time and whatever you hear during those phone calls better be good and up to the right standards.


#4: DON’T Forget to Put the Customer on Hold

Sometimes you need to put customers on hold to look something up for them or to transfer them to another rep (see #2).

However, sometimes your staff forgets to put the shopper on hold, and then they tell another employee something like, “I have no idea what this person is saying!”

First of all, you should NEVER talk about your customers in a negative way. Ears are everywhere. And it could seriously hurt your business.

Second, if you can prevent shoppers from being put on hold in the first place by answering their questions immediately, that is ALWAYS the best option.

However, if you NEED to put someone on hold to check on something, you should follow three rules of thumb:

It needs to be done. Put the shopper on hold if you tell them you are going to do so.

It needs to be brief. Make sure the shopper doesn’t wait very long. Just like in chat, shoppers who wait too long to receive information will hang up on you. Keep the wait time to 30 seconds max if possible.

Or follow Century Interactive’s advice, and ask if it would be okay to call the shopper back once you’ve found the answer to their question.

It needs to be helpful. If you’re going to put the shopper on hold, let them know what other options they can use to contact you. For example – instead of the usual elevator music, have a recording tell your phone shoppers they can also get their questions answered via chat on your website.

Also, if you do put someone on hold, and prefer to include some music – make sure it is not a Top 40 radio station. Sometimes these stations have unsavory music that might be insulting to your customers. Keep the music wordless – it’s a safer choice.


#5: DO Ask the Shopper to Set an Appointment

The same Marchex study shows that 63% of mobile shoppers were never asked to schedule an appointment. That’s more than half!

Shoppers call to get their questions answered. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to move shoppers down the sales funnel by asking them to set up an appointment.

To get the most out of your communication channels, you need to proactively ask shoppers to visit your store. Car shopping isn’t entirely online yet, and maybe it never will be, so we still have to worry about our sales approach during phone calls.

Tip: The best method for setting appointments combines asking for an appointment with giving shoppers a reason why they should come into YOUR dealership:

  • If they call about service, ask them what time they want to come in to get their vehicle repaired. AND tell them about your unique specials, and your awesome amenities, or your free loaner vehicle services.

  • If they call to see if a vehicle is available, ask them if they’d like to stop by for a test drive. You should also mention if you have any incentives for why they should come by today, such as $100 off their purchase or a vehicle special that will be ending soon.

When you do set an appointment, don’t forget to ask for contact information! Incoming phone calls aren’t just for customer service – you need to make sure they are a valuable lead source as well.


#6: DON’T Hang Up Before Saying Goodbye

Just like during a chat, the shopper should be the one to end the conversation over the phone. You should never hang up the phone after just answering one question.

The shopper might have many questions not yet answered, or you might have questions you can ask them to make the shopper more decisive – or to help better understand their needs.

However, when you have no additional questions to ask, and the shopper isn’t speaking up, always ask a closing question like, “Is there anything else I can assist you with today?”

DO NOT hang up on the customer without making sure they’re done talking. If you do, they’ll probably think you were rude, and you might have a nasty review coming your way.

Instead, wait for the shopper to indicate that they don’t need any more information. Then tell them to have a great day and that you look forward to (hopefully) seeing them when they come in for their appointment!

Winter Tips for Better Dealership Processes

Have You Winterized Your Dealership Processes Yet?

Dare I say it…soon enough, it’s going to be winter. And when winter comes, you’re not going to share another Game of Thrones meme, but you are going to ensure that everyone (your staff, your vendors, etc.) is prepared for what happens in winter – such as holidays, bad weather, illness…maybe even snowball fights.

So, what kind of processes are we talking about? Where can you get started in preparing for winter?

Well, first let’s talk about the cheery stuff!

Send Your Team Home for the Holidays

When holidays come around, sometimes dealerships have closings so their employees can be with their families. However, your chat provider doesn’t always know when those closings are – unless you tell them.

It’s imperative to communicate with your chat provider about any closings or change in hours you may have during the holidays so that they can relay that information to your online shoppers during chat conversations. You don’t want car buyers coming into your dealership when you are closed (no one likes to get upset during the holidays!), so make sure everyone is on the same page regarding your changes in hours.

Furthermore, in case a shopper calls your store directly, it’s important to update your phone prompts so that it mentions you are closed – cover all of your bases when customers try to contact your store!

Right now is also a very good time to start thinking about how you will bring in more business during the holidays for your Sales Department.

Questions to Ask:

  • Are you going to have Santa visit your dealership?

  • Are you going to have a special Winter Sales Event?

  • What is your winter marketing strategy going to be to sell more cars?

  • Are you using winterized keywords on your website?

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….a Winter Storm!

When bad weather comes through your area, sometimes your electricity goes down which means no phones or computers for your team to communicate with customers! To ensure your digital showroom stays up and running, make sure to have a managed chat service that can take over for you during emergencies. A managed chat team may not be located in your direct area (but hopefully in North America!), allowing them to be available when you are not able.

If your employees are unable to make it to work or you have to close during a storm, be sure to have a process in place to contact your chat provider to let them know! You do not want your shoppers traveling to your dealership on dangerous, icy roads because your chat team told them the dealership is still open for business. Not a great way to spread holiday cheer!

It’s also wise to have a contact system to notify your team when they should not come into work in the case of a nasty storm. Make a plan for who will call the employees, and get everyone’s phone numbers and put them in a Bad Weather Emergency Contact spreadsheet.

Please Stay Home for the Holidays!

During the winter months, your staff may be more prone to illness and need to stay at home to recoup. To ensure you dealership always has enough personnel available to answer all of the chat requests you receive, ask your provider if they offer a dual-service option. This way, in the event your team is unavailable to chat, their managed chat team can pick up chats for you and provide a seamless service.

Please note: Making shoppers wait for answers does not give a good first impression of your dealership so steer clear of the “backup” services that wait 30 seconds before responding to chats. Rather, look for a service in which the managed chat team can help you pick up chats at any time without additional time delays for the shopper. For an excellent example, see ActivEngage’s Race to Chat.

You may also want to look for a web-based or mobile chat solution. Even if your store’s computers are down, you can still chat with shoppers on your mobile devices, or anywhere there is an Internet connection (like your living room couch)!

Additionally, if you have one manager that handles the distribution of incoming leads to your team (rather than a round robin approach), you need a backup employee if that manager gets sick or can’t make it in. Without a secondary process, your incoming leads will not be responded to immediately or will go unanswered.

Question to Ask: Who will take over the process of handing out leads if the manager gets sick?

How to Get Your Service Center Ready for Winter

Your Service Department needs to start implementing specials and programs for the winter months before the 10 inches of snow arrives!

To help your shoppers winterize their vehicles, consider promoting specials for:

  • Winter Tires

  • Brakes

  • Cooling System

  • Full Winter Car Care Packages

Send out coupons for these services via direct mail or email before winter hits that will attract those proactive customers to visit your dealership for all of their winter prep needs.

You may even want to promote a Winter Survival Car Kit Giveaway contest on social media. This contest could not only add original content to your social media strategy, but it also gets your followers thinking about their needs for the winter months!

Ideas for items to include in the Winter Survival Car Kit:

  • Blanket

  • Small Shovel

  • Flashlight

  • Batteries

  • Hand/Feet Warmers

  • Matches/Lighter

  • Candle

  • Cat Litter or Sand

  • Bottled Water

  • Flares

  • Whistle

  • First-Aid Supplies

  • Tire Chains

  • Ice Scraper/Snow Brush

Don’t wait until the last minute to implement these processes! Get started NOW.

automotive infographics

3 Automotive Infographics You Need to See

In the Age of Information Overload, infographics are here to help us “boil it all down.” They’re visually appealing and can be an excellent way to get information quickly! If you don’t have time to read a bunch of text, these automotive infographics get right to the point.

In order to help you stay up-to-date on consumer trends efficiently, ActivEngage did the dirty work. Below are 3 automotive infographics to help you understand car buyer behavior and much more. Check ‘em out!

Awesome Automotive Infographics for Car Dealers

US Auto Shoppers: Path to Purchase

This infographic by InMobi offers some great insights on mobile auto shoppers! For example, 85% of auto consumers turn to mobile for more information after seeing ads for vehicles on other media channels.

A Car Shopper’s Journey

According to this Google Think Insights infographic, the Internet is almost three times more influential than friends and family during the research process for a vehicle.

The Multiple Pathways of Shopper Traffic and Automotive Lead Acquisition

Your Friends at ActivEngage put this infographic together! Check it out to understand the different ways shoppers get to your website how you can get more leads. It’s a good reference for helping you put your marketing plan in perspective.