Dealers are not able to maximise sales opportunities due to a lack of speed in responding to online enquiries.
Optilead, the sales lead company, said that compared to many retail sectors, the automotive industry has fairly sophisticated technology. However, Optilead believes dealers are lagging behind other sectors like travel and financial when it comes to following up online leads.
Rolling the clock back about 20 years a similar scenario existed in both the travel and financial industries.
Both sectors had high street operations and both relied on customers walking into their offices. Nobody will need telling this system has changed with the advent of the internet.
Graham Mace, Optilead director, said: “The same changes are happening in automotive sales and it’s the internet that is facilitating this.
“At this point, I hear cries that you still need to visit your dealer to engage with your car of choice. But, isn’t the same true for house purchases? And most of us, around 80%, start this journey online.”
Optilead carried out its own research to see how quickly dealers contacted them after they requested a test drive for a car online.
Out of the dealers that were contacted a quarter called back within 24 hours, 47% took between a day and three days to call and almost a quarter made no contact at all.
Mace said: “If you have the sole dealership in Cornwall, parts of Wales or the Highlands, not getting back to a customer may not matter as they have to come to you.
“If, however, you are in a competitive environment I would argue that your prospective client may well take this inactivity as an indicator of apathy and poor service.”
Optilead suggests that chances of catching a prospect for a conversation are highest within five minutes of them submitting an online request. The longer contact is left, the less likely a dealer will be to get in contact with the prospect.