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How Do Your Walk-Ins Find You? Why You Need to Source & How to Do It

A long time ago, back when we used paper desk logs to track our showroom traffic, our salespeople were asked to complete a “source” box. We wanted to know how our customers heard about our dealership. Strangely, “Location” was the overwhelming favorite; according to our salespeople, very few customers came into the store because of our advertising. Of course, the phone calls and Internet (and fax, back then) leads we received told a different story. We just weren’t asking the question the right way - or at all, in some cases.


We know that knowing how your walk-ins find you is critical if you are tracking the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing dollars. If one advertising source is driving twenty walk-ins a week and another is driving only two walk-ins per week but costing you just as much, wouldn’t you want to know which one is which? While most dealers have a method in place to ask customers how they heard about their dealership, many times this important question is overlooked in the more immediate quest to sell a car.


Take a look at your sales log and see how many source boxes are filled out. If it’s less than 90% or “location” is the only answer, I’d recommend an immediate action plan to get those numbers up.


Here are a few tips for implementing a process that will accurately track the ROI from your showroom visitors:


1)    Start with the buyers. Customers waiting for the finance process to start typically have a few minutes of down time. Ask that they fill out a short survey, including what advertising source brought them in. Have the F&I Manager collect the surveys in case the salesperson didn’t record it in the sales log.


2)    Leverage your managers. If your store requires that there is a manager involved in every deal, make it the manager’s responsibility to source every customer, and make them accountable in some way. Since your managers likely have more of a direct role in advertising decisions than your salespeople, they’re more likely to make it a habit.


3)    Analyze your digital ad sources for ROI. Your CRM can show you by lead source the contact, visit, appointment and sales rates, and many ad sources are able to give you view and click-through reports that show their effectiveness. Invest more in profitable sources and cut the duds.


4)    Make it a priority. Train your sales associates to include “what advertising brought you in today?” or a similar question into their needs discovery. You can even run a monthly contest for salespeople. Every month, whoever has the highest percentage of source boxes filled out, wins a prize.



Not every customer will remember where they first heard about you, but most will. Capturing lead sources for your walk-ins will go a long way towards determining which lead sources – both digital and traditional advertising – are delivering customers to your showroom.


How do you source walk-in customers? What works and doesn’t work, and why?

Views: 441

Tags: Internet, ROI, leads, marketing, sales


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Comment by Robert Stoesser on June 14, 2012 at 8:28am  Founded by ex-advertising sales guys to really prove which sources work, which don't, and which should be added into the mix.  [Full disclosure, I am one of the founders.]

Comment by Michael Del Priore on June 14, 2012 at 8:25am

Josh, Great Post. This is so true. Every dealership I have worked for including my current location there has always been a problem with sourcing. I even took out Walk In as a source in the CRM, so the salespeople would ask the proper question. I always told them them it was to there benefit to know the actual source so we would know how to spend our advertising dollars.

Comment by William Finsilver on June 14, 2012 at 8:22am

And the name of the App/Company is.............?

Comment by Robert Stoesser on June 14, 2012 at 8:17am

Regarding sourcing - There's an App for that!  Dealers in Boston are piloting an iPad app survey in the F&I offices.  Customers like it, dealers like it, and the data is very interesting.

Comment by Chris Johnston on June 14, 2012 at 8:16am

This is another crucial corner that gets cut far too often. It's too easy to put in there, "I don't know" or "location" as you mentioned. I helped build out a VinSolutions website, CRM, and IMS for a dealership and other than specifics, our only other response available was "I was too weak to ask." We had a pretty upbeat staff so they took it well, but it's based in reality. Training on the basics is never wasted.


Comment by William Finsilver on June 14, 2012 at 7:08am

Yes of course, but the question was specific to "how do you source walk-in customers". I think these forum questions and responses could be so much more valuable if we all tried to stay on the specific thread topic, so if one wanted to search threads all the content would be about the initial question that started the thread. Just my humble opinion. And as I am now guilty of what I just described I will sign off and not respond to any response to this comment. SOT "Stay On Topic"

Comment by Josh Vajda on June 14, 2012 at 6:28am

William - I agree, for the most part. I'd say, just as important as it is to measure the sold traffic, it's just as critical to know the traffic you're not converting. Those represent lost opportunities and beg the questions:
- Is our process in line with these customers' expectations?

- Is this source providing traffic that's further up-funnel and requires more follow up?

- Do I have the right people in place to handle this traffic source?

Unsold traffic provides excellent process feedback and you can get some true lift from it...

Comment by William Finsilver on June 14, 2012 at 6:21am

All the showroom traffic should be tracked by the sales manager at the time of the TO, but the most important "traffic" to source acurately is the traffic that converts to a sale. By making the collection of this data a responsibility of the F&I Managers, you will get much more acurate data and give the F&I manager an "ice breaker" topic to discuss prior to the F&I presentation.

Comment by Josh Vajda on June 14, 2012 at 6:11am

Ralph - thanks for allowing me the forum to do so!

Tom - that's a great way to approach it. Just asking, "How did you hear about us?" usually results in a low-quality answer.

Comment by Tom Gorham on June 13, 2012 at 8:36pm

Josh, this has always been a tough one.  I might add that your people need to know how to ask for source.  If you ask open end questions you get wrong answers.  Some customers will tell you, "Oh, I live nearby and knew you were here."  What they don't say is that they live near your competitor too and visited both your websites to compare.

I ask our sales staff to request source this way, "What websites did you use in your vehicle research before coming in?"  If they didn't use the web, they will tell you that.  But usually they start rattling off several sites ending with yours.

I follow up every sales with an email questionaire about source and get many responses helping me to keep the sales staff honest.  Isn't it nice to know that loyal previous customer shopped you before coming in?

Thanks for a great article!

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