More than half of all visits to UK dealer websites take place outside traditional showroom opening hours, yet the vast majority of dealers aren’t equipped to provide an immediate response to any of the resulting sales enquiries from potential customers.
According to new research from the UK’s leading automotive web marketing firm, GForces, 51 per cent of dealer website hits occur when showroom doors are closed, peaking between the hours of 7.00pm and 10.00pm. Despite this, a paltry 3 per cent of the UK’s top 200 dealers have any kind of out-of-hours enquiry management service – either in the form of telephone call handling or ‘Live Chat’, where potential customers can type questions on screen and view written responses in real time.
GForces Commercial Director, Tim Smith, explains: “We live in a 24/7 age. These days you can log on to most supermarket websites and enquire about products and potential orders very late at night. By contrast, car dealers still have a nine-to-five mindset and they’re missing out as a result. Dealers are failing to manage high volumes of potential sales opportunities because they are ill-equipped to handle even the most basic enquiries outside standard opening hours.”
It’s not just a matter of missing out on a significant quantity of leads – dealers are also missing out on better quality leads too. “We believe that conversion rates for leads registered between the hours of 7pm and 10pm are higher than at any other point during the day,” adds Smith. “Many consumers with hectic work lives and higher disposable incomes do not have time to enquire about possible vehicle purchases during their working day. Dealers need to manage these high-value sales prospects more effectively.”
GForces recently launched a new Live Chat 24-7 facility, which ensures that customer interaction can be maintained around the clock – and a number of internet-savvy dealers from across the UK have been using the service to significantly boost their bottom line.
For example, within days of the service going live on the Peter Vardy website, staff were finding an average of 15 qualified sales enquiries waiting for them each morning. Another example of an early adopter benefiting from GForces’ Live Chat 24-7 is Harwoods. Within the first hour of the GForces service being available on their homepage, a lead was processed that led to the sale of a Range Rover. Within the first six days of the service appearing on McCarthy Cars’ website, two deposits were taken on vehicles thanks to enquiries made out of hours.
Smith continued: “It’s vital that dealers create an effective, well-designed website to entice customers, but too many leave the management of the resulting hard-won sales enquiries to chance. By providing a speedy, responsive lead management service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, dealers will be doing everything in their power to ensure that no opportunity slips through the net.
“2011 looks set to be a tough year for new and used car sales. Effective out-of-hours sales enquiry processing could make the crucial difference for many dealerships.”