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Chat changing the car business (Simple math)

About me.....I have over 8 years in a dealership. Most as a manager. I was called into ministry and started looking for a way out of the long hours that would pay me like the car business. I received a job with Carsdirect.com. Great company to work for by the way. I found Contact At Once while working with Carsdirect.com and couldn't pass up what they had to offer (Live Chat for car dealers). Yeah I had some objections. "I want customer information". "This will take from my current leads (Phone/Email)". Their stats over came all of my objections. One of the first dealers I signed up was a BMW dealership in Atlanta. I started getting calls almost everyday from the Internet Director saying "I cannot believe how many people are chatting with us." I was a bit surprised also. I started watching his stats and thought it was just him. Nope! It's everyone. Buick stores getting 100 leads, Ford store getting 450, BMW store getting 650, Toyota store getting 1200. So leads are great, right? You still have to sell them. So there is no way you are getting customer information and selling a bunch of cars using chat. WRONG! I can give you tons of dealers that sold 3 to 5 cars the first week. This is a product that works the minute you turn it on. When I worked for Carsdirect.com I had to tell people you need to build a pipeline. That is not the case with chat. Dealerships have sold cars the first day being live.

Buy 100 leads from a lead provider (Any lead provider)
10-13% closing ratio (National Average)
$2200 invested at $21.95 a lead

So $2200 should get you 10 to 13 cars a month. Not bad, right? No but chat can do better. I am not knocking lead providers. I would still use some of them. I am just saying that it makes since to spend money with them but you have to be crazy not to like the math below.

Chat can cost less than a couple hundred dollars.

Lets use a small store with very little traffic
Cadillac Hummer store
103 leads from their own website 12/1/08 1/1/09 (People landed on their website and gave them an opportunity to sell them a vehicle)
When I was an Internet Director we had close to a 20% closing ratio on leads from our own website but let's use 10 to 13% closing ratio.
Can't quote what they pay but lets say $200.

103 leads
10-13% closing ratio
10 car deals
$200 invested monthly

Signed up on a Friday went live on a Saturday sold 2 cars between that Saturday and 2 days later (Monday). This was confirmed with a call.

I know what your going to say. "We can't man it" (Don't have to we monitor your presence and visitors only see chat when you are available) or rollover feature (will allow us to get them when you can't). Either way it ALWAYS works better when your dealership is involved in answering your leads. Once you try this you will never go back.......I promise! Don't be talked into sending all your leads to a 3rd party BDC. We all know it's hard enough finding good talent. Imagine some high school kid in a BDC answering your leads. NOT good. You trained your guys what are they doing that's so important that you have to pay for someone else to do their job. Once you have chat you may want a "rollover" feature because you will understand that your guys can't always be there and you may be missing business.

Cars.com has just launched Contact At Once Automart.com, Carsoup.com, Carsmarts.com, and many more are on board currently. All you need is 1 chat tool for all of these lead providers.

Do your research.....I Dare you! (I know that was weak but you really should research chat for your dealership).

My down fall is spelling so please forgive me for any misspelled words.

Ryan Lucia

Views: 4

Tags: chat, instant, leads, messaging, websites

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Comment by Ryan Lucia on January 1, 2009 at 10:15pm
Good points. You will only get out of this product what you put in. Yes you will have people initiating chat to see if you really are who you say you are. It happens with email leads. Not all of you email leads are legit. Keep in mind.....with chat you know at the end of the conversation you know if you have something or not. Most car guys seek instant gratification right? Right! 10 cars in 2 months isn't bad for the amount.

JD Powers did a study and found 80% of visitors to automotive dealership websites leave without contacting the dealer by email or phone. We see an increase of as much as 300%-400% for some dealers. Phone calls and emails are effected 1-3%. You paid for those visitors to get to your site more than likely. Since I have been with the Contact At Once I have only had 1 dealer cancel. They have had over 3 chat companies in the past 4 months. Not sure whats going on there.

Yes just like any internet department you do need an understanding management team.

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