By David Kain, Kain Automotive

Hopefully you have a very effective lead handling process in place that helps you gain a lot of appointments and vehicle sales. Like a lot of people, I tend to get complacent when processes are working well and do not take the time to review them to ensure everything is working at peak capacity. This tends to resolve itself over time because a client will alert me of a letdown, and I will adjust and get back on track. Wouldn’t it be great to make the adjustments before it frustrates someone, especially before it frustrates a customer? Here are a few ideas you might want to consider so you can be proactive instead of reactive.

1. Review your current process step by step. The old statement, “It’s the way we’ve always done it.” remains prevalent in business, and you have a chance to validate whether doing it that way is still valid. Many dealerships have steps in their process that have never worked, yet they have their staff repeat them with each prospect. Please look at each action and ask yourself if it generates the desired result. If the answer is no, adjust it. Measure the new action at a set point in the future and repeat this review until you have the best possible results.

2. Make sure your technology supports your process before you add more staff. Sometimes we have a tendency to want to hire more people when our task list becomes unmanageable. This is expensive and sometimes creates more work instead of less work for internet and BDC managers. Many of the items your team does each day in the lead handling process can be automated. This is especially important as a lead ages and you want to spend more time on the fresh prospects. You don’t ever want to give up on a prospect, but, given the reality of time constraints, it is unrealistic to think you can give the same energy and effort to every prospect. To ensure every prospect gets contacted, you may want to explore technologies that can keep communicating with your prospects in an automated fashion until they either respond or unsubscribe. This is a great time saver; when used with well-crafted emails they seem like personally written communications.

3. Involve your team and develop process improvement experts. Sometimes, as the boss, you may tend to think it is always your responsibility to improve processes. This can lead to a great deal of frustration for you and your team. Be considerate of the talent within your team and charge them with the responsibility to come up with ideas for process improvement. A simple request to ask them to review their actions and make suggestions for improvement will get the ball rolling. Be prepared to take some risks. Ultimately you will find that this open idea concept works great and really pushes innovation. Imagine the benefit of having a whole team of process improvement experts trained under your guidance to always be on the lookout for ways to improve. Of course, it is always a good idea to offer a nice reward if their ideas significantly improve results.

4. Consider doing things your competition doesn’t do. The automotive industry in general tends to be very inwardly focused as we are constantly looking at our competitors and duplicating what they do even if we have no proof it works. I encourage you to look outside the industry and see what leading internet retailers are doing that you can weave into your process. This will give you a new stream of ideas and allow you to do things your competition may not consider. Until of course, they start following the new leader – you!

5. Test it, make sure it works and then put in play. With new ideas, it is always best to run it in parallel to your current process so you can make sure you validate that it works without risking any letdown from the switchover. By running the new actions side by side with every other lead, you can safely test them and mitigate the risk that the new idea is going to be an issue.

The bottom line: Don’t be complacent. Be innovative. Be flexible. You’ll keep leading the market.

This article used with permission of Kain Automotive.