Automotive text message best practices“Dealers sometimes don’t realize they can ask to text message customers, and they’re missing out on a huge opportunity,” shared Jack Simmons, Cars.com Dealer Training Manager. “If we get a phone call during a meeting or an email while spending time with friends or family, most of us aren’t going to answer it right away.  But if we get a text, are we likely to look at it and even reply immediately?  You bet.” 

Matching this shopper behavior in your store can mean less time chasing down prospects, fewer blown-off appointments and faster service quote approvals, Simmons added.

Even with consumers sending approximately 2.3 trillion text messages a year, many dealerships still wrestle with how to effectively use SMS as part of their customer follow-up process. These guidelines and best practices can help serve as a framework for incorporating text into your customer contact strategy.

Ask before you text

Before bombarding prospects and service customers with text messages, be sure to ask for consent.

“By simply asking customers, ‘what smart-device is best for me to reach you on?’ you can casually get permission to send photos, video and text,” shared Simmons. “It’s that easy.”

A good rule of thumb is to stop texting if the customer asks or is unresponsive to more than 3-5 messages, though laws in your area may vary – be sure to check that your dealership is in compliance.

Get them in the door with video

Before hanging up with new prospects on the phone, ask if they’re calling from a smartphone. If they are, ask permission to send a short video-walk around after the call. Then, using your own smartphone, head out to the lot and take a short video (30 seconds is great) that quickly highlights key vehicle features to encourage the shopper to come in to learn more.

“A quick text that says, ‘watch this video’ helps the potential customer connect with the vehicle in way that’s incredibly convenient for them,” add Simmons. “You can almost guarantee they’ll watch it too.”

Text your way to better show ratesTexting best practices automotive

Reduce missed appointments by texting customers a fun reminder that includes a picture of the vehicle they’re about to come and demo.

Using laid-back language like, “We can’t wait to see you!” along with a photo can help your message stand out from competitors and get customers excited for their test drive.

Streamline in service

In-depth service consultations are often best handled in-person or on the phone, but if a customer is just waiting to hear back that their car is ready, a text is a perfect option for folks that are at work or in school and unable to pick up a phone call.

Additionally, text can be your key to justifying the need for certain repairs.  Dennis Galbraith at DrivingSales suggests texting photos of the part on a customer’s vehicle in need of repair, followed by a photo of what the part should look like, accompanied by an explanation of why the repair is needed – and what will happen if the owner opts not to get the work done.

“Texting a few photos is easy, but it can have big implications,” said Galbraith.  “Not only does this make you look like the good guy for saving the customer money in the long-run for fixing something before it gets out of hand, you’re also increasing dollars per repair order, and we all know that service plays a big role in your dealership’s bottom line overall.”

Finally, just like email marketing campaigns, properly timed text-based marketing can help keep shoppers engaged through coupons and specials, bringing them back to your dealership for repeat service. Just be sure to ask customers if they’d like to opt-in before sending them messages.

How do you text to enhance your follow up with customers? Share your best practices in the comments below!

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