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Response Time - get lead time down to < 15 min

Recently our dealership has gone through some tough times in the internet department. The owners don't want to spend the money it takes to run a completely successful department.

One of the first issues we ran into was response time for our internet leads (especially the manufacturer ones from GM). One month we had a 14 hour average.

General Motors has figured out that if a dealership can get response time down under 4 hours, the conversion rate goes through the roof. To promote this, they reward SFE money if you are under certain thresholds.

I saw the need and did some serious research on putting together a process that would allow for the leads to be responded to in 10-20 minutes. We have implemented the process at our dealership and it works. The clock is stopped.

Since implementing the process, our response time for the last 4 months has averaged 15-25 minutes. We are now in the #1-2 spots every month in our district of dealerships. Now, we qualify for the $10,000 SFE money from GM. Word on the street is that Ford is about to implement a similar reward system for their manufacturer leads.

If you're interested, let me know. This will work at almost any dealership with a good CRM: spencerchevy [at]

Views: 339

Tags: SFE, internet, lead, leads, response, time


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Comment by Tom Gorham on April 4, 2010 at 7:44am
@Spencer. My sympathies regarding the response to your article. This GM process has really upset the applecart for a lot of dealers. We've had to find ways to answer leads 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No autoresponders. The options seem to range from hiring personnel to work nights and weekends, to round-robining leads to sales people who volunteer, to outsourcing lead handling at night to a third-party source. I chose the last option because the third party is actually providing quote information by a human being in a personal way. It also means a quality, timely, and professional response that you may not get from volunteers from the sales staff (or Internet Department). Hiring in-house staff is fine if you can buget it and provide the logistics. Good luck!
Comment by Heath Emerson on April 4, 2010 at 12:17am

Even if the process the BPO shared with you is similar, it will be considered an autoresponder if the response/clock stopping activity(this varies depending on your CLMT) is not administered by an actual person.

There are several companies that will assist dealers with making a timely initial response, but from those that I have spoken with they all have employees making the initial contact for you per your instructions.

It is very easy to create an autoresponder that can carry out the necessary clock stopping activity outside of any CLMT that allows you to respond to emails from mobile devices or personal web based email accounts. I have in fact written one that can work with one of Ralphs competitors with free programs available online. Although I have tested it, I have not implemented it at our dealership because GM does consider it an autoresponder, even though it meets all of their other requirements for a valid clock stopping response, because I am not personally sending it.

Your biggest problem that could flag an audit is your response time. Five minutes is difficult to achieve, and I have only gotten ours down to just under 20 minutes without the use of a 3rd party service or autoresponder. Of course I had to dump the GM 3rd Party Lead program to do so, but it is possible to get an outstanding average response time without endangering your dealerships bonus potential and enrollment in the SFE program.

Ralph- I have spoken with a friend of mine that works in GM's auditing department about this stuff in depth. When GM says "specific and personal response" they mean specific to the customer and the inquiry and personal is you personally sending the response. Of course they can change this(and the entire program) at anytime.

On another note, GM announced changes to the Digital Rewards Program for Q2 last week, increasing the lead to sales ratio from .25 to 1.0. While I can't accept full responsibility for this, it is interesting that this change was made after I raised a stink about the GM 3rd Party Lead program because of a few issues.

This will have a greater impact on smaller dealers and those that do not use the GM mandated Kobalt website as their primary website(like me). After going through my numbers I will more then likely have to go back into the GM TPL in order to achieve the required ratio (I was at .82 lead to sales in Feb).

Poor leads = a waste of time and money

Comment by Spencer Gardner on April 3, 2010 at 8:36pm
Ralph, I appreciate the attention you drawn to the subject. I am a new member to ADM, and find that it is extremely valuable tool to make connections and share ideas.

Thank you for the explaining the difference between an autoresponder an a BPO. In fact, it was a well-known BPO that contacted us trying to sell a similar process.
Because an autoresponder could just be audited by GM, I knew that is a problem. After looking to into the subject, I have found this process was similar to a BPO and much cheaper. My intention was just to pass along the word to those who are struggling like we were.
Comment by Heath Emerson on April 3, 2010 at 1:14pm
I suggest that you remove this post immediatly because ...

1. The use of autoresponders is in violation with the sfe agreement.
2. Gm can and has been auditing the clock stopping activitis.
3. Gm has laid off many empoyees, but has increased their auditing department.

Its a great idea, but even the cheapest response system is not worth costing your dealership 10k and removing your dealership from the sfe program.
Comment by Mike Lewis on April 3, 2010 at 1:12pm
How does this differ from an autoresponder?

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