How auto dealerships respond to queries matters a great deal to brands, because all except for Tesla (which allows direct online orders with a $2500 deposit) rely on third parties to conduct sales. Brands are doing their part; 90% place call to actions at key conversion points. But dealerships responses are inconsistent despite improvements from last year.
In a test featured in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto, 82% of auto dealership responded to an email within 24 hours but just 8% provided a primary ask price in their response. In general, dealerships were less responsive to phone calls. Just 24% called back within 24 hours, and 18% of callers made multiple attempts. As far as reaching out to new customers, 59% initiate contact via email and phone and 10% make no effort.
Brands have little control over how dealers respond or how often they reach out to new customers, but a few have tried to. Ultra-luxury brands are the most successful because of the finite number of showrooms that carry their models. Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Bentley direct to their own dealership network with dealer.brand.com. Ford is one of the handful of luxury brands that have made similar efforts. Its centralized dealer site FordDirect (founded in 2000) generated 400,000 in sales last year.
Even though 73% of time spent shopping for cars is spent online, brands with more proactive dealers have an advantage. Online tools have made a cooperative sales process with dealerships feasible. Perhaps an argument for more efforts similar to Ford’s.