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Dealers Beware: New Texting Regulations In Effect (7 Tips)

With the latest Telephone Communications Protection Act (TCPA) rules settling into place, we’ve got to remember that not all texts are created equal.

Is your dealership’s texting up to snuff? Do what it takes to get there…because 97% of texts are opened and read within 3 minutes vs. 22% of emails!


Did You Know?


According to the latest Telephone Communications Protection Act (TCPA) rules:

  1. As of January 14, 2013 - Messages (phone calls and texts) must include the ability to immediately opt out.
  2. As of October 16, 2013 - You must get unambiguous written consent before sending telemarketing calls or text messages via automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS).
  3. As of October 16, 2013 - Established business relationships with consumers no longer relieve you of that written consent requirement.


Know Who and What You Text


So, what can your dealership do to insure compliance?


Check out these seven pointers, then make sure you do your research and talk with an attorney for specific legal advice*.  


Here are 7 urgent tips...


#1: Do you use SMS ShortCode programs for blasting text messages out to a long list of mobile phone numbers (used for mass marketing specials, contests, etc.)?

While they can be effective, they’re probably the most heavily regulated type of texting. It’s also the type that got the Lithia group in big trouble a few years back, resulting in a multimillion-dollar settlement. You may want to hit pause until checking with your vendor and attorney.


#2: Do you (or others at your dealership) text with customers?

If your employees text on behalf of the dealership from their personal cell numbers, you have a problem. You likely have no idea how employees got customers’ numbers and no record of their written consent to be texted. You also probably have no transcripts of the conversations and no control over opt-out messages. So while your dealership needed a system to manage and control one-to-one text messaging before the new TCPA regulations—a system like Contact At Once! Mobile Text Connect (MTC)—the need is truly urgent now.


#3: Do you have a process for gaining a customer’s express written consent to text?

It’s one of the new regulations as regards SMS text marketing, but it’s smart to apply it to any texting. So make it part of the process when capturing lead information. Keep a record of that written permission too, in case the customer challenges your dealership somewhere down the road. (MTC does all this for you, making it easy to be compliant and pull up records of written permission should the need arise.)


#4: Do you tell customers that “message & data rates may apply” when they text with you?

Even if they aren’t signing up for text marketing, this is a best practice. (MTC adds this on all consumer-facing calls to action, like the first “click to text” form.)

#5: Do you offer clear ways to opt out?

If marketing, you should include it in every message. If texting back and forth with customers (like about setting appointments), you should send it in the very first confirmation text message. (MTC automatically requires this opt-out message to be the first text you send.)


#6: Do you have a process for those who opt out?

Ensure that no one at your dealership texts them again by mistake. (MTC automates this compliance by blocking the phone number of opt-out customers…until that customer opts back in.)


#7: Do you already use a vendor to help manage your dealership’s one-to-one text messaging?

See if your vendor is up to date on the latest TCPA details. Then, make sure their system integrates mobile leads into your CRM, includes opt-out procedures, and lets you monitor and track the conversations so you can ensure these texts are used the right way…to provide information and customer service, not unrelated marketing. (If you are using MTC, you’re all set.)


Keep on Texting

Think that texting just isn’t worth this extra effort? Think again.


Texts sent to your customers bypass clutter and get read—Adtruth says that people check their smartphones 150 times a day.


And it’s in our interest to keep it that way. So while any rules change can be annoying, these TCPA changes can help prevent spammers from diluting a powerful communication channel.


That’s worth a few extra steps to ensure compliance!


*Please note: This article does not provide legal advice. Please consult your attorney for legal advice that pertains to your situation.




ADM Professional Community Members can download a full report in PDF file format:


Views: 1214

Tags: 7 Tips, Beware, Car Dealers, New, Regulations, SMS, TCPA, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Text Message, Texting


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Comment by Josh Knutson on November 1, 2013 at 5:27am

Great article Aaron super helpful and thanks for including the pdf!

Comment by Alexander Lau on October 25, 2013 at 6:36am

Yeah, this has been on their radar for some time. Obviously, everything moves slowly with the powers that be, but no surprise whatsoever. It's no different than what they've done with CAN/SPAM, just a different format. Ralph, you've got to be logged in, to see that report.

Comment by Aaron Hassen on October 24, 2013 at 9:51am

That's right.  Even though someone may be interested in a vehicle, according to the new regulations, that is not enough to warrant texting their personal number without their prior written permission.  Using a product like Mobile Text Connect however, will allow you to get that opt-in and written approval so that you can use text as a tool for outreach.

Comment by Angela Schliinz on October 24, 2013 at 9:42am

Is that true for just texting individual customers in response to their inquiry on a vehicle?  I would be interested in learning more about your texting solution.  I do strongly agree with your stats on the text vs. email open rates.  Just need to figure out the legality of initiating a text conversation.

Comment by Aaron Hassen on October 24, 2013 at 7:53am

Hi Angela,

The new texting laws are much akin to the CAN/SPAM act which regulates email. The idea is to protect consumer inboxes and privacy. So, just like companies are required to confirm opt-in before emailing (typically using a double opt-in where the request is made and you click to confirm that request), texting now requires permission.  As you have gleened yourself, texting can be a powerful follow-up tool.  In fact, statistics show that 97% of texts are opened and read within 3 minutes! (vs. just 22% of emails)...Now that's responsiveness.

So, to answer your question, similar to email services (some bundled, some stand-alone) which facilitate the double opt-in functionality for emailing consumers, the best way to insure your compliance and protect your dealership from the risk of potential complaints or litigation is to employ a dealer text service like Mobile Text Connect.  The benefits are that the service will take care of all of the compliance measures (opt-in, STOP messages) and your texts will flow through the same system as your chats, integrating seamlessly with the CRM.

With the new regulations it is clear that dealerships can no longer remain out of the loop (in terms of letting conversations go unmonitored and reside only on the personal cellphones of salespeople).

Comment by Angela Schliinz on October 24, 2013 at 6:31am


Thank you for the great article.  It helped to clear up some confusion about the new texting rules.   Do you know if the new law has any new regulations for texting a customers on an individual basis with vehicle information or follow-up? 
I would really like to include texting in our follow up procedure but am unsure of how to go about implementing it because of all the regulations. 
Thank you for any insight you may have.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 23, 2013 at 9:36pm

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Guide for Contact Centers

Recent changes in outbound dialing legislation and consumer protection regulations, specifically changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), have the outbound dialing sector scrambling.


Companies of all sizes in most verticals (with exception of fundraising and political campaigns), including outsourcers who use outbound technology to reach customers and prospects, are struggling to interpret and understand exactly what these new rules mean, their potential impact, and how to apply them.

In this whitepaper, presented by DMG Consulting and sponsored by CallMiner, learn all about the TCPA and how it applies to contact center operations, including the ARM industry.

pdf Download this Free Report Now

This guide is intended to provide:

  • A concise summary of the TCPA statute and related regulations
  • An explanation of the new rules and their known impacts on enterprises (the organizations making the outbound contact) and recipients (people on the receiving end of the interactions).

Automotive Professional Network and Resource Exchange for Car Dealers, Managers, OEM and Marketing Practitioners seeking Best Practices.

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