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Ignoring test drive requests cost dealers sales leads

Sales leads are being lost after a new survey found a significant number of test drive requests made through manufacturer websites are not followed up.

The survey of 19 different marques, across seven European countries, saw researchers attempt to make more than 2,500 test drive and brochure requests through car manufacturers’ websites.

Forty-four per cent of brochure requests resulted in no material being received within seven days, while 63% of test drive requests received no contact within four days.

At the close of the 14-day survey, 45% of those asking for a test drive had still not received a reply.

The brand with the highest response rate to test drive requests only achieved 57%, while the ‘worst’ could only managed 25%. Both of these cases are premium brands.

The results are more surprising as conversions following test drives are higher than conversions from brochure requests as the customer is generally further down the buying chain.

Carmakers or their relevant importers in the UK performed better than their colleagues in the other six European countries.

However, 46% of test drive requests made to manufacturers in the UK still resulted in no further response from the carmaker or their dealers.

The results come on the back of an Optilead survey which found that dealers are not maximising sales opportunities because they are too slow responding to online enquiries.

But now the same problems are being seen when contact is made through manufacturer websites.

“Manufacturer websites are the first point of call for many potential buyers,” explains James Rodger, automotive partner at BearingPoint, which carried out the survey with Multi-M/IT.

“But our survey shows brands are failing to help themselves by responding effectively to those customers who are in the market for a new car. All brands believe that a test drive significantly increases the likelihood of the consumer going on to purchase the car.”

However, Rodger does not lay the blame solely at the manufacturers’ doors.

“There are three possible failure points – a systems failure, a process failure and a people failure,” he said. “It may be one of these failures or a combination of all three that can lead to delays in contacting potential customers,” said Rodger. “And they can happen at the dealerships as well as the manufacturer end. Dealers and manufacturers are in partnership here and the point of failure can exist at many points. Manufacturers and dealers need to take a holistic approach and consider all dimensions along the chain.”

Survey results


Not contacted after 14 days following a test drive request

France 69%
Germany 53%
Italy 81%
Netherlands 63%
Russia 64%
Spain 76%
UK 46%

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