Go Their Separate Ways: How NOT to Lose Your Dealer Partnerships
by Robert Stillman
“The day you sign a client is the day you start losing him. “
Don Draper – Mad Men.
Parting ways with a client is rarely comfortable. Frequently, there is a feeling that somehow our professionalism or standards of service and delivery were not meeting expectations. As a company, we know that there are lessons to be learned from every lost customer. In fact, it was during the act of firing an advertising agency that CallRevu was born back in 2008. The happy conclusion of the story is that, not only was the client saved, but the lessons learned can benefit your agency even today.
Here’s the back story. In 2008, Chip King, founder of CallRevu, was not getting much for his dealership by partnering with an advertising agency. To rectify the situation, the agency reviewed every call over the period of a month to try to identify the problem. In response to that analysis, Chip completely changed how his team handled phone calls. As a result, Chip’s dealership saw tremendous improvements.
The primary takeaway that emerged from the dust was the need to have eyes on the almighty incoming call. By paying extra attention to phone calls, the customer experience was vastly improved and it began to transform Chip’s dealership. It wasn’t long before other dealers started taking notice.
Fast forward to modern day: What’s an agency to do today to help reduce the churn? Listening to every call for the last 30 days is one option (albeit an arduous undertaking), but with the rapid advancement of reporting tools and call-tracking software, there are some basic strategies your agency can adopt to lower dealer churn.
Here are three methods for reducing your automotive dealership client churn.
Strategy 1: Shake up your ROI metrics
Reporting is a continually evolving process. Just as our homes need renovating, the reporting you provide your clients’ needs to consistently change in response to customer demands and industry changes. Begin by asking yourself “what tweaks can I make to my dealership reporting that might bring home the results in a more impactful way?”
Maybe you have your own portal where a client logs in or you walk your client through the Google Analytics metrics to evaluate your success—either way, it might be time to look for ways to innovate your reporting.
Identify what metrics you are supplying. Is it clicks, views, chats, time on site, bounce rates? Can you provide other metrics that might help dealerships enhance their understanding of the customer experience?
To help round out this picture, complete an inventory to determine what insights you are supplying then ask yourself, “what else is there?” For instance, would the dealer be interested in learning the following?
- Sales calls generated: This goes beyond the calls routed to a sales number on the website or advertising piece. Look for calls that echo the “Hey I want to talk to somebody about this car” type of conversation.
- Appointments made: How many appointments were set in response to calls on a specific campaign? Tying appointments to specific campaigns paints a more comprehensive picture for a dealership and lets them identify which campaigns are working and which aren’t hitting the target.
- Cost per conversion: This metric is worth following and is readily available. If your agency is not providing a granular breakdown of cost per conversion to the customer, perhaps it’s time to get brave.
Strategy 2: Go above and beyond as a partner.
Dealerships are continually being offered solutions that fit an existing need, but in what ways is your agency challenging their current thinking and approaches? Provide insights that incite your customers to question their methods and undertake alternate perspectives. While you should focus on the core metrics which include clicks, traffic, sessions, leads, click to call, etc., you can level up your value as a partner by helping your customers see opportunities where others are not excelling. To do this, ask yourself these questions:
- What other useful information can you provide to help your customers accelerate their business?
- How can you help identify impediments to your dealers’ success?
A true partner takes an active approach, going not just above and beyond, but deeper as well. Consider these examples as they relate to the all-important phone call.
- Call connectivity: How long is it taking for their staff to pick up the call? Is there something preventing the call from connecting?
- How many customers are leaving voicemail messages? How many customers are getting to voicemail and hanging up?
- What has the trend been on calls abandoned over the past quarter? The last month?
- What hours of the day are the most calls unanswered? Does this have an effect on how your efforts are being evaluated? (If you said, “yes of course,” you are doing great!)
- What telecom providers are dropping the greatest amount of calls to your clients’ dealership(s)?
- Are there particular agents at the dealership that are having trouble setting appointments? For those not setting appointments, are they struggling with customers of a particular gender?
Insights that come from asking questions like these, not only in variable operations but also in fixed, are the new frontier for agencies looking to add more value and build trust.
Strategy 3: Be Proactive:
Most agencies have a process for attempting to reclaim a customer once it becomes clear they are going to be terminated. Why wait until things have reached that point? The data we are collecting suggests there are many warning signs that indicate your agency is being considered for termination before it happens.
One way to be proactive is to test the existing lines for a dealer to verify that everything is working. (Hint: your team doesn’t have to do the dialing, they make machines to do that now.)
Phone line health can be assessed between health checks. CallRevu can assist agencies with setting up phone health alerts that notify you immediately when a line volume drops (rather than between the monthly checks).
Relaying important phone statistics and searching conversations for negative turns can also be a powerful method for being proactive. You can even evaluate the number of times a campaigns catch phrase was mentioned, which gives you the ability to make your message stick more effectively.
Another option for being proactive is to add value to every touch point and correspondence. One way to accomplish this is to add pieces of information like phone line health reports or phone activity drops. Helping a dealership understand aspects of their sales funnel that they don’t fully grasp is a great way to enhance your partnership.
You may be reading this and thinking that these resources are currently out of your reach. Implementing any of the above strategies are within bounds for any agency –you just have to be resourceful. Let us know if we can assist in strengthening your offerings to your dealer partners.