||Dealers Sell to Surprised Smart Phone Shoppers
Jerry Draga quickly realized the sales power of smart phones.
Draga, general manager of Jack Matia Honda in Elyria, Ohio, said he sold vehicles to the first six people who used a new service on the dealership's Web site. The service lets shoppers download detailed vehicle information to their mobile phones by clicking an icon.
The downloads generate text messages to the dealership that include the precious mobile phone numbers of the shoppers. Salespeople followed up quickly with phone calls to get the shoppers in for test drives.
"We converted the first six," said Draga, who had his dealer management software provider install the service eight months ago.
Dealers are finding new ways to interact with shoppers who use mobile phones. The methods combine basic texting with advanced enhancements that speed communication between salespeople and shoppers. The goal of new technology, though, is often decidedly old-fashioned: bring shoppers into showrooms.
Capturing cell numbers
Some dealers are putting response numbers in print, TV and radio advertising when offering special promotions.
When a shopper uses a smart phone to respond, the shopper's cell number allows salespeople to follow up on the lead, said Nicole Case, director of Web solutions at Reynolds & Reynolds.
That technique is being used on dealership lots. Some dealers have begun putting text codes on window stickers of cars on their lots so customers kicking tires on Sundays or off-hours can immediately contact the store for more information.
Meanwhile, basic texting is booming. In 2010, Americans sent 2.1 trillion text messages vs. 81 billion five years earlier, according to CTIA, an association of the wireless telecommunications industry.
It will remain popular for years, Case predicts, because while most American families own a cell phone, only about a third of those cell phones are smart phones with Internet access or e-mail capabilities.
Mall of Georgia Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep of Buford, Ga., sends about a text a week to its 3,800 customers to offer service specials or invite them to the store, said Bryan Jackson, service department manager.
He said an $80 discount on a set of pickup tires yielded the sale of 24 sets in a month compared with a usual sales pace of three sets.
Shoppers to showrooms
During a text promotion in June, customers donated 130 cell phones for U.S. servicemen and servicewomen for a 10 percent discount on vehicle service, Jackson said. The campaigns by vendor OneCommand resulted in community good will and service business beyond tire sales, he said. OneCommand sells software to help dealers market cars and services with e-mails, voice messages, texts and other methods.
After the fast start, the mobile-phone download feature on the Jack Matia Honda Web site is still generating two additional vehicle sales per month, Draga estimates. The dealership averages about 160 total new- and used-vehicle sales a month.
The mobile marketing subscription from Reynolds & Reynolds, which retails for between $100 and $500 a month, includes the creation of a mobile Web site that converts text and photos into an easy-to-read mobile format, Case said.
Draga said Web shoppers occasionally are surprised when they receive a follow-up call from the store after downloading vehicle information. "They ask how we got their phone number," he said.
But most times, they take it in stride and get their questions answered.
Draga said: "We see if we can get them into the store."
(Source: Automotive News, 07/18/11)
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