Email sells. It provides you with an easy-to-use, low-cost tool to stay in touch with customers and prospects. Whether you want to tell them about the latest additions to your used car inventory or offer them a coupon good for a service discount, anything that brings customers into the dealership could lead to a sale. Here are tips from successful dealers for collecting email address.

1. Ask. If you speak with a car shopper on the phone or in your store, request the person’s email address before concluding the conversation. If customers want to know why you need it, simply say that you’ll be following up with additional information about the vehicle you discussed or an alert when you have the car they want in inventory. You will also be sending special promotions such as discounts for vehicles, service or parts specials.

2. Setup an Internet kiosk. Some dealers tell us they acquire email addresses through a self-service Internet kiosk. The welcome screen asks customers about their purpose for visiting the dealership — sales, service, parts or accessories and the body shop — and offer a related coupon in exchange for their email address. A car shopper, for example, may get a coupon good for $250 off the price of a used car, while someone having a vehicle serviced may get a 10 percent discount.

3. All points of contact. Other departments in your store also should request email addresses as a part of their paperwork process: finance and insurance, service, parts and accessories. Regular email contact with customers helps to drive profits in all areas of the dealership, not just the showroom.

4. Don’t forget the obvious. If the customer sends a lead via email, be sure to enter it into your store’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Email remains a powerful forum in which to engage customers and communicate with them about your products and services, but the margin of error grows increasingly thin. Once you’ve gone through the time and effort to get their email address, be sure the message is one they’ll want to read.