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How important is response time when handling leads? Not very, if you check out this comedic video about automotive internet sales by Joe Webb of DealerKnows Consulting. Referencing the GM "stop the clock" policy from my Digital Dealer 8 session.

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Comment by Timothy Martell on April 28, 2010 at 5:50am
Comment by Joe Webb on April 28, 2010 at 5:24am
Thanks for the post, Thomas. Once again, your template illustrates how the requirement to stop the clock causes you to send out responses, though, that aren't a best practice. I'm not sure of what area you are in, and know it was just an example, but I can't imagine the second sentence you sending to a customer to stop the clock involves a canine's bowel movements. Something tells me that isn't what GM was hoping for when they created the policy.

I agree that it is powerful to offer money to dealers in hopes of bringing their online efforts in line with some semblance of best practices, but their requirements - and high demands - have actually skewed the other way. Too fast, as Ralph pointed out, often results in lack of quality. I think they could have lowered the incentive, created a 4-hour window, and employed a large team of digital marketing consultants (a la ADP) to visit their stores and help build better processes in each one of their stores from the inside out. THAT is a best practice.

But when a policy is created that makes low-level employees extremely fearful of losing their jobs at all times, I can't believe their system is working. Managing through fear (while I'm sure Ralph has a real name for it :), is not a best practice either.

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 28, 2010 at 12:52am
We try to make the best out of the "clock" and send a custom template modified to show it is done in real time..quick sentence about the weather, local sports team results, etc. and shut the clock off right away...then take the next 10 minutes to prepare the complete, detailed quotation and/or answer any questions or concerns that they have mentioned. Often their name will come to us in lower case, we change it to upper case and hope they will see that we did... (in fact when I mystery shop I always use lower case for my name to see if anyone is looking at my email or if they are on "full autoresponder"). The clock gets shut down in three to ten minutes, we get them the info they want within 20 to 30 minutes and it keeps our average response time well within the money window and offsets the stray leads that come in on our down time which is one to two hours in the early morning.... we are at 13 mins month to date on GM leads (around 250 so far this month)... we send a couple of links to our site with the initial email (clock stopper)... often directly to the vehicle that they have inquired on if their request was vehicle specific (vin# was in the request).... Joe illustrates well the balancing act we must perform in his video... our solution has been to get two responses out in 30 minutes and attempt to "gently" put the lead off until we can gather the info requested and present it properly. I am not sure this is the best solution, we are always looking to improve... I am anxious to find a better way.

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Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 27, 2010 at 11:44pm
HooYah!!! Great clip Joe... And you illustrate the point that reducing your dealership's response time is ONLY effective if the quality of the response being sent is equal to, or better than before you reduced your dealership's response time. Reduced response time, if it results in reduced QUALITY will sell less vehicles, not more... In fact, I have the data to show that the top 5% FASTEST response dealerships SELL LESS CARS to the same number of Internet leads as the dealers who respond within 1 to 3 hours.... Why? Quality and engagement!

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