The Evolved Lead Process

December 11, 2023
Buckle up. It’s time for the Wheelhouse to dissect leads and follow-up process.
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Who should handle leads? How often should you follow-up? Where does AI fit in the process?


On today, the longest ever episode of the Wheelhouse, host Daniel Govaer is joined by Jen Suzuki, President of eDealer Solutions, Kyle Mountsier, COO of ASOTU, Don Hall, President of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association and Michael Wood, General Manager at Checkered Flag Auto Group.


Here’s what we cover in today’s episode:

0:00 Intro

1:34 Around the horn with today’s panel

4:15 What we are and aren’t talking about with leads

5:49 The Who and What of leads

12:39 The customer journey prior to a lead

20:35 Who handles internet leads?

28:35 What goes into lead follow up?

37:13 Lead handling a single point of contact store

45:26 Closing thoughts

Don Hall: 0:00

years ago, I'm at a dealer meeting and some dealers came to me and said, Don, you're powerful, you're strong. I said, What's your point, guys? You've got to stop this thing called the internet. It's gonna kill our business. Honest to God, true story. Thank God for the Internet

Daniel Govaer: 0:19

Welcome back, everybody. It is already episode 13 of the wheelhouse lucky number 13 Here at the wheelhouse and we've got a very practical, very tactical discussion today. Born straight out of operations in dealerships. And so to help us with that conversation today. First and foremost, we've got Jen Suzuki, President, founder of the dealer solutions.mr, President Don Hall, president of the Virginia Auto Dealers Association. Thank you once again, comments here from Soto and Michael Wood, gm of checkered flag, Jaguar Land Rover, maybe something else, VW, perhaps, in Virginia Beach, all good brands. So joining us today, and along with an extra cast member, if you're viewing on video, of course, you'll notice Michael's bowtie. So we want to make sure that that gets its own as well.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:04

Fancy as the cars is dealership.

Daniel Govaer: 1:08

Before we get into and really we've got like one big thing to unpack today. But before we get into that I do always want to hear from from our panel who's out there every day, telling me what it is What are you guys looking at that's coming at us within the next 60 days. So it'll carry us out through the end of this year in the very beginning of next? What are those? What are those first things that are coming at us hot and heavy? And Don, if we can go ahead and start with you. And 30 seconds on the clock is all yours? Sure are real quick,

Don Hall: 1:35

Amazon, Hyundai, Amazon and many others to come. Good. Is it great? Is it a problem? I'm very concerned to make sure that the industry does well if Amazon is going to be our partner.

Daniel Govaer: 1:49

Huh? All right. Nice and concise. Love that. All right. And we'll go like Hollywood Squares, one down, Michael would 30 seconds on the clock for you?

Michael Wood: 1:58

Yeah, I'm just looking at the experience that we're giving into fixed operations department, you know, there's been a steady increase when it comes to door rates across the board. But has there been a commensurate increase when it comes to the experience that we're delivering to the guest, I'd venture to say that by and large, there hasn't been and that's needs to be a focal point. For my team, at least in the next 60 days, for sure.

Daniel Govaer: 2:19

If you're on the pilot episode of a soda, we actually were the first thing we talked about was about why why it's going to take forever to get your car repaired. And then what does that mean for in dealership operations? Moving up to you, Jen, not freshly off of a mountain after shredding all that powder. That's right. 30 seconds on the clock for you.

Jen Suzuki: 2:38

Yeah, for me going into the new year, I'm very focused on first impressions. I think first impressions is something for both fixed and variable. You know, that is the foundation for winning relationship. And a lot of times we miss out on a proper first impression. But I will tighten up sales processes service and sales this year. You know, a lot of things were coming off this time, or people weren't demoing, doing not doing walk around, did another product. And now you know, going into the new year, gotta have a new fresh gameplan new phone process new internet sales process. Okay.

Daniel Govaer: 3:11

I mean, you're gonna that's That was good, because you're gonna take us right at Thunder stealer. Take it easy over there. All right, and invest for last 30 seconds on the clock for you.

Kyle Mountsier: 3:24

So outside of the fact that we're going to see more Christmas party photos on LinkedIn and Facebook over the next week than we can shake a stick at. I'm really watching out for the fact that new car sales and incentives are going to be at an all time high. And this December because we have inventory and a heavy sales time again. And I'm watching for used car managers and appraisers to be watching us car values as they dip and wondering if we have water in January or whether we're right in our cars and can have a great use car. q1.

Daniel Govaer: 3:55

Oh my gosh, if this was a whole other episode, I would say that not not always, the new car incentives have a direct value direct impact on the pre owned value. Because how many times have you seen a pre owned car get sold for more than we could buy a new one for it. But all right, we're gonna stay on focus. Okay. All right. So we are so exactly what you guys have sort of been leading towards is we know that we need to adapt, we know that things need to change, but we don't often quantify the how and the why. So today we are picking on our lead response process. And what is that and why and why would it change and this was this was really inspired by a conversation that I had with with Jen when she was advising me on doing the exactly the same thing. And I was kind of at a wit's end as far as what and why and it really took a foundational look at let's let's change things and some actionable things. Everything I'm telling everything we're going to talk about in the show. If you're listening, you're at a dealership, these are 100% things you can take to the store today and contemplate changing to that or form of that or at least having a day discussion about it, things we're not going to talk about, we're not going to talk about when the last time that you've read through your templates are because hopefully you don't really have templates. And hopefully that if you do you do read through them constantly, we're not going to be talking about, I'm going to be talking about, you know, should you do video because like, I've been doing video for eight years, and I'm assuming that if you're here that you are doing videos for your clients, we're just going to talk about what that video should be. So it's few things that we're just not going to you know, let's we're not, this isn't exactly the one on one class. It's not the 201 class where the I don't know what comes in between that but you know, something like that. So, first of all, and this this question always used to irked me until but now I think it's relevant, right? So what what constitutes what, what makes a lead? What constitutes a lead? What actually comes into the dealership, and you say this is a lead? So essentially, someone, regardless if they're on their own two feet walking in or not what what becomes a lead? And is that something that just comes to you through your just your own website? Or website? It's

Jen Suzuki: 6:01

a website? It's a chat, it's a call? It's an email? I mean, it's, it's, it's a lot of those things. Yeah, yeah, of course, people will walk in. Yeah, as you hear somebody say something like, you know, oh, my neighbor was just talking a minute anything's a lead? And

Daniel Govaer: 6:17

can we agree that it's a way for someone, someone to try and establish contact with the dealership and have and try and have some type of conversation or relationship with the dealership? No,

Jen Suzuki: 6:27

no, I totally disagree. And I'll tell you why. Because if you're not out there, prospecting your own leads, these are people that are not in the market, these are your customers in your queue in your database, you're not going after them. Okay? Because those are leads.

Daniel Govaer: 6:40

Okay, so see, there we go. Now, we already have some differences in what in what leads actually can be and where we can look

Michael Wood: 6:45

for them? Well, sometimes consideration the manufacturer in which we're working with as well, you know, for instance, with certain manufacturers that require mat pricing. You know, for those of us in the negotiation free world that wants to be able to dictate the price we want to to our consumer, we're often constrained by the need to, to have that one to one relationship before we can display that transparent pricing to the consumer. And that generates a quote unquote, lead, but really, it wasn't a lead. It was somebody that was trying to shop on their couch and try to figure out how much is this car going to be? How much is this payment going to be? And it generates a lead, and we treat it the same as the ones that Jennifer was just speaking to?

Don Hall: 7:22

A lady with a frustrated customer in the service drive, who's gonna have to pay a large bill? Maybe it's time to trade? That's a lead to me.

Jen Suzuki: 7:31

Yes. Okay,

Kyle Mountsier: 7:33

I guess it's I guess it depends on what you want to measure, like all of these, I would call opportunities. But historically, in our business, we we classify lead by its source, so that we can track it, measure it understand how, how we communicate with the person on the other side of this quote, unquote, lead all every person walking around as an opportunity. It's whether or not we want to track an opportunity to its source to

Daniel Govaer: 8:00

a completion, right. And that and that sounds that sound, by the way means that Nathan's running over you with the 10 speed. But no, I mean, so no, I've asked that question specifically. So we see that there are other ways that we do get leads, hopefully, we're doing those things. But today, we're going to focus specifically on the type of a lead that comes to us via this thing called the internet that apparently isn't going to make it the thing is going to make it's going somewhere. Yeah, and I don't know what dole pineapple had to do with it. But I mean, thank you to them for helping us make sure that we have an internet today. Let me say

Don Hall: 8:35

one thing about the internet. Years ago, I made a deal in meeting and some dealers came to me and said, Don, you're powerful, you're strong. I said, What's your point, guys, you've got to stop this thing called the internet. It's gonna kill our business. Honest to God. True story. Thank God for the internet. Yes, I agree.

Daniel Govaer: 8:53

That should be the first page. And when you whenever you're ready to write a memoir, I don't think it's anytime soon.

Jen Suzuki: 9:00

I just want to squeeze in one more thing, because, you know, frankly, we're all here to support dealers, and we're supporting the industry. And when I see an opportunity, I always want to put it out there. And one of the things that I've been really, really pressing is something that people forgot about as a lead opportunity, if you will, is that you know, a lot of people in the last three years they settled on cars that they couldn't get, they settled on, they switched brands, you know, these are people that contacted your store that we should go back after because we don't know if they're happy in that car that they bought. But frankly, those are opportunities for us to you know, bring the people back to our brand.

Daniel Govaer: 9:36

Yeah, okay, I'm gonna give you 150 points for that. I'm gonna take away 47 of them because it was just not a yes, but hang on a minute. We're getting the hair tosses gents mic drop in case anybody noticed that? Yeah, I'm not 100%. So that falls into the fault like what type of follow up and that's a reason for example, why there shouldn't be follow up past a certain point. So that makes more sense to me. And I'm not trying to do Round topics here, but you made me that makes more sense to me than when they just say like, you know, you call them until they call it and complain and say don't call them anymore the buyer die like you know, those are all like soup. You know what I mean? If, if if Rambo is even more tone deaf and selling cars, I would all make sense. But it's not the case. And so and what Jensen does make sense, right? Like we've had people for the last three years that may not have bought the car that they wanted to buy. And although yes, there could be some challenges in what they bought it for, or what a financial situation could be. At least those are people that have an opportunity now to get some what they really want. And have they done that? Or did the temporary solution just become a permanent one, okay, but what's

Jen Suzuki: 10:34

the thing going into this year is there, there's got to be a game plan for all of these because a lot of times you're waiting, if you see salespeople, I'm in dealerships every single week, their salespeople standing around, they don't know what to do, they're on their Instagram all day. It's time management. And that's why I love this topic, there's so many opportunities to go after and to keep everybody busy. And going into this next year, I'm always worried about people's paid plans. And people people felt the heat on the cuts in the pay plan this past year, you know, so now we gotta fire back up. And this is a great topic for today. Because, you know, it's a good time to reset rethink the strategy on how you're handling all of this stuff, because and how you're going after all this business, but okay, dial back into your internet leads. Okay,

Daniel Govaer: 11:12

no, I think we'll come back to it, I think we'll have an episode on pay plans, because it's seriously been such a like forbidden topic before, but there's definitely some good adapted ones for the economy that we're in and going towards, okay. Um, the different types of lessons we're talking specifically about internet leads the different types of internet leads that we get, it may not be as many as we've had in the past with as many different lead providers, but they're definitely, for example, like, is the lead process the one and done is there one lead process that you have, no matter where the lead came from? If it came from autotrader, who by the way will tell you they're not a lead generating website or display website, occasionally you get leads from them? Or if they came, or if it came from a lead generating website? Or if it came from digital retailing to these these different channels that a customer chose to email through? Does that affect how you respond to them?

Michael Wood: 12:02

Absolutely. I mean, but based on where the customer is, it should be how you respond to them. And it's an autotrader lead, you need to identify what the primary question was that caused them to actually generate the lead to begin with, and you better daggone make sure that in that initial response, that you are answering that question, and making sure that it's going the way you want.

Daniel Govaer: 12:22

Yeah, I mean, obviously, yes, always look for the question to answer. Right. But okay, so auto trader, we might say that's, you know, inventory availability, and where we go from there. But if it's, you know, so let me ask more direct question, how do you handle a digital retailing lead that comes in?

Jen Suzuki: 12:38

I can, I'll just point this out to that, you know, a lot of times, we don't really think about the customer journey, before they landed, you know, in your lap. And so this can help you adjust, make make adjustments to your sales process based on the source, which I agree, you know, and I'll pick up on my digital retailing, too, because a lot of times people will start that process. And it's evolved over time and changed and, you know, used to say Brian Kramer used to say get out of their way don't don't even interfere, you know, whereas today, you know, our BDC is handling a lot of these, and of course, they want to get an appointment, so of course, they're going to interfere. And anyway, I would challenge the thinking of this, you know, the customers, they go on different sites for different reasons. And I'll give you an example. CarGurus auto trader, these third party sources, a lot of times, they haven't not picked out a car, they haven't even picked out a brand. That's why they're on these sources. So that tells you something and that actually changes your needs assessment questions, it changes the value that you bring to the table changes how you interact with this customer, they don't even forget about what they want, they and that's good for you. But that's why they're low. That's why they they take so long to buy you know, because they're just starting the research and everything. So, if I'm a customer and I've already been I'm a little down the funnel, I'm gonna start to choose a manufacturer side if I've already picked the brand once I pick the brand I'm on the manufacturers I'm on autotrader I'm on CarGurus you know what I'm saying? So that means I'm coming down the funnel so now I need to have different questions, different values, they've now picked a brand so I don't need to sell brand I don't need to bring them up with our brand which I probably would have done when I was on CarGurus and anyway now Okay, now that picked a brand but they don't have a dealership yet so now I need to sell the dealership on those kinds of customers that's going to help me create better content more structured, more pointed. So you know I'm get this appointment everything and then and then just think about it, then they land on your website, that website leads a lot of times these are going to convert at a higher rate. Why? Because they're lower down on the funnel. They've not only picked the brand, but they picked the dealership now you got to do with so you

Daniel Govaer: 14:36

and so And exactly. And I and I agree with everything I'm going to pick on one, let's extract one thing that you said, right and by the way, Don, where I'd love your input here too is because you're often representing the dealer body to the powers that be and I'd like this to you know, for certainly for your input but also to illustrate the attempt of dealers to truly serve the public in their buying journey. But when you said Jen that the BDC is always looking for appointments To bring me to my next question, who's handling internet leads in your store?

Michael Wood: 15:05

To my store, it's the product specialist is what we call them are the sales associates, we don't have a BDC.

Kyle Mountsier: 15:11

Okay, so I think, okay, so that goes back to my original back to opportunity versus lead. And I think that that's like, you know, DGU, you and I have, we've talked about this a little bit, but it's like, to the same thing with the product specialist handles everything. If there's an opportunity in the world, the the the God's honest truth that 99.9% of people are interacting with some way, with vehicles in the internet, they've probably called somebody might be, you might be a friend, they've all interacted with all of the communication methods that we currently have to get in touch with the dealership. So why would anybody other than the person that can ultimately help them, help them at the point of opportunity? I also I I'm the only thing that I have to say on the journey and you ask the questions, how do you is how do you handle a digital retailing lead is I think we give everything all too much credit, you know, it, there's definitely more people that are buying the car that they actually select the Select to put in the lead. But last time I checked, most customers are putting in multiple leads on multiple cars over multiple days, in succession. Like they have not chosen a car, right? They've, they've chosen a potential car, that might work if everything else lands correctly. That's why they're calculating payments, doing trade values, reaching out to multiple dealers, seeing who connects with them, seeing who contacts them first. And I think that we we credit too much the point of interaction, as opposed to understanding that the customer journey is extremely fluid. And that connection is the most important thing, actually, you know, and maybe this will this will migrate us to the next kind of topic. But I in data research that I've done from some BDCs actually did a q3 business review with a group and of the lead sources where contact rate was under 50% of that lead source, the average time to close on that on those lead sources was anywhere between eight and 10 days of lead sources that they got in touch anywhere between 50 and 80%, the time to close was plus or minus one on seven days, so anywhere from five or anywhere from six to eight. And then if the contact rate got up over 90%, the close the time to close was under two and a half days, meaning everything is up to connecting with customers. And so I think that that being our ultimate target drives a lot more intent, and we can meet them where they're at because the sales process is fluid. Right?

Daniel Govaer: 17:50

It the question is, is what we're willing to view as meaningful contact? Right. So I mean, you're saying, Are you saying contacted off the first?

Kyle Mountsier: 17:58

Way? Okay, two way.

Daniel Govaer: 18:02

And then Dan, I'm sorry. It looks like we.

Don Hall: 18:04

So quick comment. I mean, number one, I mean, by and large today, people are so payment conscious. for the obvious reason that price of cars are up there that it's a shock value. And so oftentimes you'll hear people saying, well, we switched on this car, that car, and why they do it because they get a payment within their budget. family budgets are very tight these days has a lot to do with it. Secondly, we live in an environment today where service is sort of non existent when you go into large retail establishments needing health experts to answer questions, tough to find it. So people make the assumption they go to the car dealership, it's sort of the same way. Like everything else. We do our stuff online. Why? Because nobody can answer our questions. Nobody can really help us out. Because we're used, we've been trained that way to accept that. And so I think we have to reestablish with customers that look, we're here to serve you and your needs, and why I'm going to ask your questions, they're going to allow me to understand better about your needs, in which we know and in the best world, you want to drive this car, but your needs may dictate something a little different. And my job is to make sure that you walk out here as the happiest customer feeling service beyond anything you could ever imagine in today's environment. And that's what dealerships are about. We care about people and their driving experience. We want you to leave you're very happy and send us referrals because you are so happy with the buying experience.

Michael Wood: 19:25

Yeah, I mean, I personally love it when I see the customer has multiple leads on different vehicles because I think there's a lot of golden that you know, what change was there a change in the value of the vehicle that we're looking at? And that lets me know that there's a you know, whether it's a pricing issue or whatever it is a budget issue for the consumer, or is there commonality amongst the common features of the vehicle that lets me understand what is really driving the why behind that trend, that idea to transact into a new vehicle you know, what is it that's making you want this new car and what is it making you go from car a that you submitted on to car B? Was there is it a lower price point alright, well that's me know that you're a little bit more price conscious and as you can be are aware of that when I'm working with you, I

Don Hall: 20:02

think we have to put ourselves in the customer shoes, we get a little jaded, because we're in the business, we all get it, we understand the game, we've been doing it for years, we get that put ourselves in their shoes, how they feel. And I think in doing so we've come across so much better. It's a much better buying and selling experience, because you understand from their vantage point, how they're feeling rather than what I have to tell you in order to make a sale today.

Daniel Govaer: 20:27

So back to the original question, then these are all valid points. Michael, you said you don't have a BDC. But you basically have someone else who's answering answering, I don't care. In that case, it's a title to me in that case, right? So it's like you don't have a BDC that's answering the lead, you have a product specialist is answering the lead. All right. What I mean, the point is, is

Michael Wood: 20:43

the sales associate, they're not a BDC agent or anything like that. They're, they're the person that would not only pencil the vehicle, they're the person that's going to present the menu to the customer, that the person is going to go over the law contract with a customer and they're also the same person that's going to deliver it. Okay,

Daniel Govaer: 20:57

so it is okay. So that's C is it's an issue of titles, you know what I mean? It's alright, I got it. Okay. But you were saying the same thing. So salesperson, right? I mean, it's I think it's about time, here's a personal opinion, and it's about time in the industry that we just make a starting their salespeople should handle internet leads. Right? And it's and if you have a salesperson and doesn't want internet leads, fine. If you have a salesperson whose metrics show that they're not doing what you're asking, they're not following the process. And no different than anything else than the service advisor or finance manager doesn't follow the process. They don't get internet leads. But as a as a starting point into the industry, can we have salespeople, just as you're going to be a salesperson and a dealership and until proven otherwise, you can handle internet leads fair will blow

Michael Wood: 21:34

your head a little bit more and add another title in there. So we delineate from Product Specialist and what we confirm as an elite product specialist. And so our product specialist is going to be the one that just starts into the business. And they're not going to be handling the internet leads yet because they barely know how to handle a floor up. But once they're promoted to the elite level, where they're actually doing the mini disclosures themselves as well, that's at the point in time where we've deemed that they can handle the internet lead as well.

Daniel Govaer: 21:56

So then you're gonna have flare, then is there 15

Michael Wood: 22:01

points of flare? Yeah, 100%.

Daniel Govaer: 22:03

Now you're elite.

Jen Suzuki: 22:05

When you take that data, when you take the data, you know, that Kyle had mentioned, and you think of about from those terms, you know, those first, I would say 10 days based on what you said, right? 10 days is the most critical time to get in contact with people and then to, you know, show that you care, you know, that we're asking the right questions to show an interest in identify options, we do know, we have a value issue because the the cars have changed, they have evolved to have better tech safety features and everything like that, and the price did go up. And so you've got all of these factors that are in, you know, are out there that, you know, we kind of have to bring together. But you know, I think I think you know, salespeople handling the internet leads after the jump that makes all the sense. They're the ones just to your point, you know, you want an elite for somebody who knows the product can answer the questions, being there and trying to really get after these people in that hot, you know, timeframe. And then after that, I always suggest AI get AI in there, you know, to do all the heavy lifting for the people that are not in market buyers. And that's a pretty big process change. Because a lot of times we have our human capital, the people that we love the most about working with,

Daniel Govaer: 23:18

you just get you off of topics like gentle electric pulse so that you don't write I get it, the Genesis zookeepers and of the show would take three and a half minutes at the rate that you talk, I get it. And you're right, and you're right on everything that you're saying. And look, we've been talking for 22 minutes. And so you see how contentious we are, we haven't even gotten to really what happens when you get the lead, right. So for your VDCs, to do other things for your BDCs to do all those aspirational things that we talked about, but don't actually happen 100% of the time, right? Like for your BDC to talk to people in service for your BDC to work mastermind, or whatever equity mining tool, we don't endorse any of them that you use, right? And it's like freedom to do those things that your sales team doesn't always do 100%. But your sales team can can talk to and should be talking to your internet leads. And I think that's a good point on AI. I think AI plays a big role here. But right now we want right now the way AI is set up is AI will be the first to talk to your clients. And then if they're real, quote unquote, then AI will stop and then a real well, you

Kyle Mountsier: 24:17

know why? You know why? Because as an industry, we don't care. Like go mystery shops, 60 different dealers right now and go find 50 of them take eight hours to talk to

Jen Suzuki: 24:28

you if they haven't called you, which is so crazy. It's our fault.

Kyle Mountsier: 24:32

Like that's why we run out of it in a scenario is that someone's on the phone

Jen Suzuki: 24:37

with salespeople couldn't even call them

Michael Wood: 24:39

and how much of that is predicated on the sales associates being hired post COVID and not having to not having to actually sell there. They were essentially order takers during COVID. Oh, you've got the red Jetta. All right. I'll take it. You know, how much of those have actually been given the skill set necessary to take the person down the funnel to be able to identify the different lead source and say, Hey, I should probably talk talk to you a little differently than I talked to the person that walked through the front door.

Don Hall: 25:04

So DJ, you said earlier, another show another time, the way we pay, and the cancer we live under call the 30 day cycle, it throws a lot of good things out the window out the door, because we're all driven about we got boss, we got to close, we gotta close big, we got to hit these numbers, we're going to do it, we're going to do it. And then we throw out all these great things that we can use to make a more better buying experience. Now we got federal legislators, state legislators coming after us for lots of dumb things. Because everything's based on 30 days now we get paid, and I'm just moving iron quick, because that's how I get paid baby. I don't have time I hear what you say. And I don't have time right now baby, I'm moving cars Leave me alone, let me move cars, and we overlook it. It's our cancer 30 days. Now that's we're gonna

Kyle Mountsier: 25:52

put a peg in somehow the average salesperson is still only sells one every three days. Magic. Okay, so now you're gonna get me excited. So now that we've

Daniel Govaer: 26:02

gotten this will be this, we're gonna want to bring our Christmas Special. Alright, so now. Now we have a salesperson, right? And it's always talking about like, you know, someone who's hungry, right? And it's like, we all know the difference of being hungry. And you're still hungry, but the only thing to really eat is celery or white chocolate. And that's still hungry. But neither of those things really work for me. Right? And why chocolates? Not really chocolate, don't die on that hill. Don't start with that. So the point is, is like how do I want to be able to keep I want salespeople, we want salespeople to respond to the clients that are coming to us through leads, but I want to keep the salespeople genuinely interested in doing that. Right? Because here's what can happen is you can you can quite literally wipe out the conversation of what's being said in follow up, you can wipe out the conversation of I didn't know what to say or what template to use, if you're still using them or whatever. You can wipe all that out. If you have salespeople by nature, want to talk to people, if you have an an interested party, talking to your interested party, hopefully that's your salesperson, right? The conversations just sort of naturally follow the course have a conversation and whatever your sales process should be at that point, fine. But I'm saying like as far as reaching out to clients, I don't really want AI to start, I'd like AI to pick up, right when I have someone who's not responding. And I don't want to mark that. And then the other question that I hear a lot is like, you know, when do you mark a client last? And some people are like, you know, never, and you know, they last forever? And it's like, well, the Roman Empire has a few things to say about that. But there's Why would you but why would you continue to waste your instore human capital on someone who's not responding when there is a machine that can do that. But what's what I'm saying? Let's But hang on a second. So the first day, the first day that a lead comes in and Kyle, good point, but assuming we're a dealership that actually gets back to you within that business day, right, there we go. What happens? What should that what what should the client have in front of them? By the end of that? What is the dealership delivered to that client by the end of the first business day?

Kyle Mountsier: 28:02

To the client?

Daniel Govaer: 28:03

Yeah. Like what have you responded? What how have you responded? What have you sent? What have you given to the client in that first business? And that was the first hour the first whatever I mean, but at the end of that day, what do we say the client has, so they probably have a video from us, right? And one of the things that I was doing that I thought was was right, of course is like our sales team was filming, you know, a 92nd walk around of the car, right? And then Jen told me that I was basically like a barely evolved form of a caveman. What should it be? What should be in that? What's better? What's better than just a 90 minute walk a 92nd walk around? What's better than that to be in the video?

Michael Wood: 28:37

We like to talk about our unique selling proposition personally. I mean, we think that it's a it's a you know, benefit to us in the marketplace when we're the only negotiation free dealership and where our product specialists are not paid on commission. And we offer a three day no questions asked money back guarantee. We think that when we know that there's three to four Volkswagen dealerships in Hampton Roads, I want the consumer who may never shopped here before to know that there is a different way to buy a car. And you know, get that information out to them immediately. In that first video, we do a 32nd video where we introduce yourself and make sure we answer the primary question the customer has. And we dropped some little tidbits about the unique selling proposition so that we can get that that fun e word engagement where they're responding back and forth so that we can have a conversation and really get to the why that's driving the decision.

Daniel Govaer: 29:21

Jen walk me Yeah, I mean, I agree and then walk me through what that what those first that first day or those first two days should look like as far as our response process. Like what makes sense.

Jen Suzuki: 29:30

I like the video straightaway. I think people they missed the mark when they do a trip so video walk around as we mentioned, a lot of times people are on the wrong car, and a lot of dealerships we switch cars all the time because they might want that car but then when it comes down to the money, you know the prices went up anyway. I'm not going to get them all excited on this car that they can't buy. I want them excited on me. What I'm going to do for you what I bring to the table I want you to know me because the cars might gonna change but I don't want you choosing a different person. So for me, I'd like to put a face with the name and I would like to do the E. You know, get them to like on the phone, that's really where our salespeople are gonna thrive and connecting with people, not necessarily a text thread, you know. And so for me, the video is a great idea replaces emails, I hate emails, I think there's too many templates. And I'm not a good representation of the store. But I would look for to personalize something with a very special personalized subject line at first sentence subject to a call to action. It's five sentences, you're not scrolling, I'm still gonna send the email, I hate that thing. But yeah, I mean, I'm going to send them a text. And so I'm going to call again on the second day, or I'm sorry, on the first day, so I got two phone calls, and I got a video, I'm hitting up all avenues of connection because I'm trying to meet the data expectations too. And I don't know who's who. But anyways, on the second day, I'm going to come in, I'm going to hit up all of those again, third day, I'm, again, leveraging the data and saying that, hey, we do have a lot of people that are going to buy in the first, you know, few days that have submitted a lead, so I don't know who you are. But I can tell you this, if you don't start responding back to me, at three days for me, some people will go longer. And I think, you know, Kyle's information also says maybe I should go a little longer noted. But I'm like, You know what, forget you. You're not a market. Okay, next, let me I want to hammer I'd rather go after people that I know, are interested in speaking, and I've done everything that I can do, and to to, you know, initiate that engagement. After a while. I'm not going to burn my people out. I'm not anything special people. I'm training, you know, your crew, your staff, your frontline. I mean, this is a tough job. And that anyways, I don't want to chase

Daniel Govaer: 31:33

ghosts. Yeah, you're gonna wind up being like the patron saint of salespeople everywhere, right? I don't want to have to follow up with someone who's not talking to me, after three days that the Earth rotated around the Sun three times and you still haven't even sent me. Okay. Then how do I keep you fresh and engaged and giving the best sense from the dealership and the best sense from you? So you're really giving off the best impression to that client? And I agree. So

Kyle Mountsier: 31:56

I mean, okay, so here's, like, I'll give you my quick on the on the

Daniel Govaer: 32:00

three days, three days too soon to cut you off as a client. Yeah,

Kyle Mountsier: 32:04

I mean, I think I think we should be in at least five to seven initial days. And I think that we could potentially do that by channel of interest, right. Where a lower funnel channel like your website, you could cut it off actually sooner because you typically see a high contact rate. And for those that have a lower contact rate and need a little bit more longtail because they just got blown up by five dealers, because they hit five cars at a time on auto trader, they overwhelmed the last one they're typically wins. So day one, there's a few things that have to be in place. One, if you place a call, and someone doesn't answer voicemails don't win. But an immediate text after validates that this is real human on the other side, as long as those phone numbers match up, then you start to win. The next thing that should happen is an email with more detailed information if those two didn't come through, if that email contains clear contact information where a phone can recognize that contact info where it says name, title, place, you work at the email associated with the email in in in the written line right with that the email came from and the phone number that you just called an excerpt from now I get further validation that that information is a real human on the other side. And so now contact rates actually go up those first three days. So you have to validate information across contact methods, so that customers perceive real value from the person that they're interacting with. And if that happens, you get super high contact ratios. The goal of the last tail of that conversation, the email, if it does have to happen is to find out the time and method that's most appropriate for that customer. So what method is the best one to reach you out on and what time of day, you're going to either find that out from a responsive via the email or how someone picks up a response to those other things, you then record that in the CRM, and then follow time and method outreach from then on. Until you move that customer closest to real time interaction with you

Don Hall: 33:51

can make one quick comment logwood Kyle said a lot to me, you know, the customer can perceive you being desperate as a salesperson trying to make a sale trying to close the deal. Why am I trying to enter the month I get paid commission or not they want to need to make I'm in a hurry. The issue is to have a lot of leads in your pipeline. You're constantly working. So you can take seven days when you know I'm a legitimate person, you can take that time to work through these processes in order to consummate a sale. But I've got other ones that I'm working. There's a tendency of look, if I can't get it done in two or three days. I'm out of here because I gotta get to the next one. No, have a lot work you get one time. One of the quick comment. Michael Wood has been a little bit humble. But in Virginia and I represent every new car dealer in Virginia, and I've got dealer friends all over the United States of America. His organization is extraordinarily unique. I don't have any other Virginia dealer doing to the degree of what they do, which is ultimately the answer to a lot of these problems that we're talking about. So though he's not able to articulate and get into real depth, understand clearly that model for those of you listening today, that model is our future. It was our beginning coincidently long ago, long before my time in the car business, but it is the future of where we're going to be and how we deal with customers going forward. So listen to Michael's comments, because he's doing it right. And checkered flag is an incredible organization in Virginia and in the country and what they do. Thanks for sure.

Daniel Govaer: 35:22

Yeah, give me some some snaps on that one that was

Kyle Mountsier: 35:26

came in with the you came in with the air flip. I don't know if you saw it there. But he flipped his

Daniel Govaer: 35:32

running through walls for the freedom of cars that we sell. And then this time, it's we're all gonna work for all going to work for Michael. Yeah. And I also want to just say like, we're often frequently talking about the easy objection, which is money, want to find and since COVID, actually one of the same objections that's that's there? And I don't think it's talked about enough is the availability of an option, right? I want this car if it has cetera, et cetera, right? I see it on the website, I built it in the car. I've seen my friends, it has it right. My neighbor just got one, it has the blah, blah, blah, right. And it's and there's currently that blah, blah, blah, is unconstrained. And then does it's not available on the car that you want? Or it's not available currently, or it's not right. So I think option availability, more and more, because of how options have become integral to the driving and ownership experience of a car, right, high value options or high value packages. That that is that is absolutely a deciding factor in how and why people choose to purchase vehicles. And if it's not available, if you don't, not just because you don't have a car, because the factory is not producing it right. Now. That's also an objection that has to be dealt with. But assuming so we've kind of so then what? At what point essentially, right? How does my follow up change? Why do I do so if it's five to seven days? And then it goes to AI? Fine, but whatever, how do I? How long am I continuing to follow up with that client? But more importantly, not just how long? What changes as the time goes on? That I'm following? And the two people really responsible for me thinking about that one is Jenna, and the other is Jason rice. Right? What changes the farther the older that lead goes? What should change in those following stages? And I imagine like Michael, you probably get to that little bit sooner, right? Because people aren't like, you're telling them like, this is the price, right? And then it's kind of like, what what are we talking about them? Right? But so the longer it goes? What should the conversation be changing, too? And at what point? Do we ever reset the table entirely? And then just start over?

Michael Wood: 37:23

Yeah, no, we definitely get to the price right out of the beginning with everybody. But unfortunately, given that we are one of the only ones that does that do it the way we do in Virginia, we're constantly having to try to make the consumer understand that this is actually real. Believe it is going to be the price that you that you see online, there's not going to be a bait and switch that's going to occur. And you know, if you buy one from us great, if not, we're gonna part as friends to try again in the future into a unique, you know, experience for the consumer that once they buy once from us, we definitely see them coming back because they're constantly tell us like, Man, I don't ever want to go back to the old way of buying cars. But it's just getting them in and making them understand that the way we do it is actually real that you can buy a car without having to be a an ideal negotiator. Just because Mr. Hall might be a better negotiator than AI doesn't mean that he deserves a better price on a car. It's a commodity, just like a loaf of bread.

Daniel Govaer: 38:16

And I think also, there's a misperception, and people think that that means that just because you're a one price store that you're selling your cars for less. Right. And you

Michael Wood: 38:23

definitely misconception I mean, prior to COVID, we saw that we were continually increasing our profitability. And you know, I actually looked at COVID as a negative thing for us, because the lack of them and we kind of leveled the playbook playing field. And they'd pretty much everybody negotiation free extensively. And it kind of took our unique selling proposition away from us. And that's kind of the one of the hard things we're going through right now is that we're going to have to go to price points that we did back in 2016, when we initially went to negotiation free, meaning that we will have to be the best price so that we can buy some of those opportunities to show customers again, hey, wait a minute, we know that we've been saying we're negotiation free, and so of our competitors. But in 2024, we actually are negotiation free. And here's your upfront transparent price,

Daniel Govaer: 39:06

you also sold cars for over sticker. That's

Kyle Mountsier: 39:11

an interesting thing. So my stores for the retail side of the business went to this and we're on it for quite some time before. Before COVID. The reality that happens is that unique selling proposition of the experience is actually heightened over the price point, you actually get the get the afforded the ability for your customers to actually bring your prices back up over time. And so as everybody else races to the bottom, you actually can sell back into experience on the non negotiation. You may lose a few customers but you only need a subset that believe that buying a car that your way is the best. So just an encouragement there. I've seen it go the other way as well where you can we can drive a premium. I mean, go look at Apple like they drive a premium because the people that buy from them understand that the experience and the product is is that they what they want. So

Michael Wood: 40:01

I'm hoping you just say the person differently to like when they're when they're incentivized to find you the least expensive vehicle that best fits your needs. As opposed to saying, I've got this 2019 Honda Accord that's got an$8,000 front end I, that's the car you're buying today, Kyle, whether you came in on a Toyota Center Sienna or not, you know, when you're actually listening to the customer and trying to connect the Wi Fi transactions with the vehicle that they want to purchase, you're only going to be that much more successful, because you're actually listening to them for once, instead of trying to stuff a vehicle down their throat, that doesn't fix any problems for them.

Don Hall: 40:34

Car Max started here in Richmond, Virginia, where I was headquartered, where it started, I remember so many years ago, my dealer said, Don, you got to fight them. This is wrong. This is bad car Max is had the model we're talking about for since their inception. And I will tell you, because we get their public statements, you pay more for the cars at car Max and you do anywhere else. And yet they're successful nationwide. And people love the buying experience, do not underestimate that it makes a difference and underestimate how they have sort of led the way. And something that is, you know, unique in the new car wrecks. And yet car Max is very successful doing it. And

Kyle Mountsier: 41:15

people pay for their own dealer trades. It's nuts. I

Michael Wood: 41:18

mean, if you look at registration data in the state of Virginia, they're nine of the 10 largest used car volume dealers in the state of Virginia. There's no bigger Testament you need than that, that says the customers want to transact that way. And kind

Jen Suzuki: 41:31

of going back to that and circling back on your question, which which was about you know, following up after five, seven days, what do you what are you going to do, you know, everything that you guys keep mentioning for me is the testament to what I'm about to say, you know, a lot of times we put these templates into into high high gear, and they just start blasting out all these templates. And it's just, it's, you know, what it is, it's what you said earlier, if you start to look too thirsty, you know, you look at look so hungry, you know that people don't like that, you know, you're missing the mark, a lot of people that don't respond back to you, they're not in market, you know, they were they had to put in a form to get a price. You know, they had they had to unlock something to get what they wanted. And that and that created a lead and they're not ready. So now we're over here like chasing them. I mean, look, I'm gonna chase them hard. I'm in sales, I want the deal, you know, but after three days, I'm not saying by talk to you never what I'm doing is I'm saying I'm saying let's change the messaging. So So and this will be I think this is a change of thought process. But everything that you stand for, you know, your your one point a person, you know, the experience that you speak of the things that make up this multimillion dollar brand, this, this business has been invested in the community for so long. There's so many great things that dealers do for their employees and for their community. And these are the things that we really should we're on the forefront because if you're not an unmarked buyer, so you are you will be sued. But if I keep chasing you with hungry asked messages, and I look like a stalker on top of it, they're gonna ghost you, you know, you're putting blocked, I'm gonna I'm gonna block you too, that's aggressive. But if I have different messaging where I'm like, Look, this is this is the things that we just added a completely remote service center because we weren't able to handle a lot of our service requests. So we put in 45 This my customer right now, he's just told me this two days ago, we're ready to go flat 45 new base 45 new texture technicians, technicians that we just got from our local technical college. You know, tell people what you're doing to improve the customer experience, talk about your sales process, talk about remote options, talk about the things that people want to hear that that really lead to that thought of when I am ready to buy them I'm going to Kyle Kyle that's the store that's the shop that's the people that's the team that's the place I want to go get them pumped

Daniel Govaer: 43:54

and then at some point that messaging can just change right to just be like let's just reset the table you haven't if you haven't purchased a car yet you're probably in the market for something different you maybe you went out of the market you came back into the market but I think after after X amount of time 100 days whatever it would be that like we can just start sending that hopefully my AI tool is sending you messaging about how we are the place to go to what you're saying is yes choose Australia we in our we used to call selection right select me as your salesperson select this dealership so that if even if your your quest has changed for what vehicle will make you happy that you're still considering that I'm still the one to do that for you even if you've submitted your lead on a Toyota and I'm not in this on what you want anymore like I still want to be communicating with you and I still want to be the one to help you if you genuinely mean that then that should be also the topic of our conversation. I wanted to be respectful everyone's time this has been by far our we are 50% over our time as it goes and obviously this conversation go a lot and a lot of different ways but set your BDC free to do more important things in the dealership give your sales give your salespeople the power and the initiative to handle your internet leads don't make them keep following up and wasting energy that they don't have. And make sure that your messaging is consistent with at least saying like, Hey, I understand maybe you didn't know what you were doing when you found this online. But like, we'd still love to help you. And if you can just talk to us, we promise you that we won't waste your time. And we can actually promise you that there's other examples out there of other ways to do it. But we promise you, we don't want to waste your time we want you with the car that you're going to be happy with. This gives me the opportunity to show that to you. Final burning, burning burning desires from my from around the horn.

Kyle Mountsier: 45:27

And find Control F, type in inquiry, delete, never say the word inquiry again, in your communications with customers or leaves.

Jen Suzuki: 45:39

I got your internet lead on Mike, I

Kyle Mountsier: 45:41

got your lead. I got your inquiry as a lead.

Daniel Govaer: 45:45

What do you want them to say instead of inquiry?

Kyle Mountsier: 45:48

Looks like you were interested. Okay.

Unknown: 45:50

You were researching? All

Daniel Govaer: 45:52

right, just ask him. Okay. All right, Don, Michael, any final parting shots,

Don Hall: 45:57

I hope that dealers will take care of their staff like they're their own family members. And if they aren't doing it, and 23 that 24 They make sure that every staff member feels like they're part of the family, the part we love and take care of them because we don't succeed without good solid individuals who love the business and love working for whatever dealership they work for.

Michael Wood: 46:18

I think that dealers in GMs would be wise to stop trying to force the consumers into the box that we find most profitable. And instead try to create a box that actually listens to how the customer wants to track transact and make that profitable.

Daniel Govaer: 46:33

Okay, all right. Well, it looks like we also found ourselves another hot topic that we'll be handling coming up. And that's the topic of how are we compensating our people who are doing that. But thank you all so much for joining us. And I appreciate everyone that spends a little bit extra time with us today. Hopefully it was worth it. Hopefully there was at least one thing from here that you heard that you can take and be actionable at your store today and if not, definitely let us know in the comments. I appreciate that. We'll see everybody back here in just another couple of weeks for episode number 14 of the wheelhouse. Thanks again, everybody. Have a good one.

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