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Lexus Best, Mini Worst at Handling Customer Internet Leads
In a perfect world, every dealership would act on every Internet lead, responding quickly and following all the right steps leading to a sale.
Some individual dealers currently do all that all the time, and their high Internet-related sales serve as evidence.
But when it comes to groups of dealers representing particular auto brands, it's an imperfect world, according to a Pied Piper annual mystery-shopping study measuring dealership responsiveness to customer online inquiries.
At the top of the index are Lexus, Porsche and Land Rover dealerships with lead effectiveness of 68, 66 and 65, respectively. One hundred is a perfect score.
At the bottom of the list are Mitsubishi, Scion and Mini, respectively scoring 50, 49 and 48. The industry average is 56.
“By brand, I don't think we'll ever see 100, but hopefully we'll see brands in the 70s in another five years or so,” Pied Piper Management CEO Fran O'Hagan tells WardsAuto.
After showing three years of improvements, the latest industry-average performance went unchanged, according to the 2014 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study.
Twenty-one of 33 brands recorded higher scores in 2014. Two brands, Lexus and Subaru, have occupied spots in the top one-third of the rankings since they began in 2011.
In addition to the three leaders, other luxury brands in the top 10 are Jaguar, Audi and Lincoln.
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Lexus, Subaru rank high for responding to internet leads
LOS ANGELES -- Automakers whose dealers respond quickly to Internet leads with a personalized contact have tended to gain market share over those who treat those leads more casually with auto-response emails or salesman form letters.
The 2014 Pied Piper's Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study, found that although the industry-average performance was unchanged over last year, 21 of 33 brands improved their responsiveness. But only two brands, Lexus and Subaru, have remained in the top one-third of the rankings every survey year from 2011 to 2014.
The study uses mystery shoppers to score dealerships on how responsive they are to queries made over the Internet. Among the mass-market brands, Honda, Nissan, Dodge and Ford were the top finishers, while Chevrolet had the worst finish among large brands.
Responsiveness appears to be key in maintaining strong customer relations and improved sales. Of the top 10 brands in last year's survey, eight gained share. Of the bottom 10 last year, six lost share.
“Today's most successful brands and dealerships tend to be the ones that thrive on customer Internet inquiries,” said Fran O'Hagan, CEO of Pied Piper, a mystery-shopping consultant. “The days of considering the Internet as a separate piece of the car business are gone. Today, the Internet is as much a part of the car business as the showroom.”
But some dealerships have yet to embrace the Internet.
No response at all
Of the 14,500 Internet leads that were submitted to dealerships, 7 percent received no response at all.
“If you imagined every 14th person walking into a showroom being ignored, that would be a problem,” O'Hagan said.
Failing to respond to more than 10 percent of the leads were Chrysler, Infiniti, Kia, Mazda, Mini, Mitsubishi and Scion dealers. On the flip side, Buick, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Porsche, Smart and Subaru dealers answered 98 percent or more of their Internet leads.
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Press Release: LEXUS, PORSCHE AND LAND ROVER TOP RANKED FOR RESPONSE TO CUSTOMER INTERNET INQUIRIES
• No improvement for industry-average vs prior year
• Only half of customers receive answer to questions within 24 hours
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA – March 10, 2014 – Lexus, Porsche and Land Rover dealerships ranked highest in the 2014 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index(R) (PSI(R)) Internet Lead Effectiveness(™) (ILE™) Benchmarking Study, which
measured auto dealership responsiveness to customer inquiries received over the internet.
Study rankings by brand were determined by the patent-pending Pied Piper PSI process, which ties “mystery shopping” measurement and scoring to dealership sales success.
After improving annually from 2011 through 2013, industry-average performance was unchanged from 2013 to 2014.
21 of the 33 auto brands recorded higher scores in 2014.
Brands achieving the greatest improvement were Scion, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Land-Rover.
Only two brands, Lexus and Subaru, have remained in the top one-third of the rankings every year from 2011 to 2014.
Luxury brands accounted for most of the top ten ranked brands, but non-luxury brands Subaru, Fiat, Honda and Ram were also ranked within the top ten.
On average, a brand's PSI-ILE ranking has accompanied the brand's relative sales success.
For example, of the ten brands ranked highest last year in the 2013 PSI-ILE study published in March 2013, 8 of 10 went on to gain market share in 2013.
Of the ten brands ranked lowest in the 2013 PSI-ILE study, 6 of 10 went on to lose market share in 2013.
“Today's most successful brands and dealerships tend to be the ones that thrive on customer internet inquiries,” said Fran O'Hagan, President and CEO of Pied Piper Management Company LLC.
“The days of considering the internet as a separate piece of the car business are gone.
Today the internet is as much a part of the car business as the showroom.”
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Automotive News First Shift
Mystery Win for Benz
For the fifth straight year, Mercedes-Benz dealerships ranked first in Pied Piper's annual survey which rates how car dealers treat car-shoppers in person.
Pied Piper's annual study sends thousands of mystery shoppers to dealerships nationwide to see how effectively salespeople sell.
Study: Consumers expect online reply in 30 minutes
Pied Piper releases first Internet study in five years
In addition to the annual Prospect Satisfaction Index ratings, Pied Piper Management Company, LLC, also released its first Internet Lead Effectiveness (ILE) study since 2008. For that, the company tested 19 different criteria, related to which dealerships responded to online inquires within 24 hours.
“The way we approach this is exercise the same way the customer would approach this,” Pied Piper president Fran O'Hagan said.
Pied Piper staff searched a brand and city in an Internet browser and picked the first one to appear each time. Then they looked at the inventory and followed the online directions for contacting the dealership to ask a specific question about a certain product. Each search was done mid-week, mid-day in local time, and a phone number was provided with each inquiry.
The scores from five years ago improved. In 2008, only 30 percent of dealers responded within 24 hours, whereas in 2013, 72 percent did. The first response to an Internet inquiry was automated 56 percent of the time and personal 16 percent of time.
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Press Release: HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLE DEALERS RANKED HIGHEST BY 2013 PIED PIPER PSI(R)
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA – May 6, 2013 – Harley-Davidson dealerships were top-ranked in the newly released 2013 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index(R) (PSI(R)) U.S. Motorcycle Industry Benchmarking Study, which
measured dealership treatment of motorcycle shoppers.
Study rankings by brand were determined by the patent-pending Pied Piper PSI process, which ties “mystery shopping” measurement and scoring to industry sales success.
For the first time since 2008, Pied Piper also separately measured how effectively motorcycle dealerships responded to customer inquiries received on-line through dealership websites.
Harley-Davidson dealerships led all brands in eighteen different sales activities, such as encouraging shoppers to sit on a motorcycle, asking for contact information, and helping the shopper overcome obstacles to the purchase.
Eleven different brands led at least one sales process category, and brand performance varied considerably from brand to brand.
For example, Ducati salespeople offered a brochure to approximately nine shoppers out of ten, while less than half Suzuki, Honda or Kawasaki salespeople offered a brochure.
BMW, Triumph and Harley-Davidson salespeople were more than twice as likely to offer a demo ride as the salespeople at Ducati, Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha dealerships.
Victory salespeople were most likely to suggest arranging a demo ride in the future.
Industry average dealership performance was mixed when comparing 2013 with the previous year.
Salesperson behaviors more likely in 2013 than 2012 include the following:
• Offering demo rides (now 19% of the time)
• Discussing features unique from competitors (now 49% of the time)
• Encouraging going through the numbers or writing up a deal (now 33% of the time)
Salesperson behaviors less likely in 2013 than 2012 include the following:
• Conducting a walk-around demonstration (now 70% of the time)
• Overcoming shopper objections (now 74% of the time)
• Giving compelling reasons to buy now (now 39% of the time)
2013 marks the seventh consecutive year of Pied Piper PSI motorcycle industry benchmarking studies.
With seven years of data gathered from tens of thousands of motorcycle PSI evaluations nationwide, Pied Piper was able to fine-tune the study questions, weightings and scoring for 2013.
As a result, Pied Piper reset the 2013 motorcycle industry average PSI score to “100.”
The resulting “second generation” PSI scoring is now even more closely correlated to motorcycle dealership sales success.
Pied Piper has found that on average, when motorcycle dealerships are ranked by their PSI score, dealerships in the top quarter sell 22% more motorcycles than dealerships in the bottom quarter.
“Any motorcycle dealership faces plenty of challenges that are difficult, if not impossible, to change,” said Fran O'Hagan, President and CEO of Pied Piper Management Co., LLC.
“In contrast, how a sales team sells is something a dealership can improve immediately.”
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TIME: Business & Money
Whodathunkit? Auto Dealerships Realize Responding to Customer E-mails Helps to Sell Cars
For a while, some car dealerships have seemed somewhat ambivalent about e-mail inquiries from consumers. Sure, they represented potential sales leads. But it was assumed that online shoppers were even less serious about buying than on-site looky-loos. How commissions are usually doled out to dealership staffers further complicates matters. Nonetheless, because modern-day consumers demand info via the Web—and more importantly, because answering Internet inquiries quickly and accurately boosts sales—dealerships have been dramatically improving how they handle online shoppers.
In a new mystery shopper study conducted by Pied Piper Management, nearly half of auto dealerships (48%) responded to online inquiries in an impressive 30 minutes or less. Two years ago, it took an hour for the same percentage of inquiries to get responses from dealerships.
The reason for speeding up the response time is obvious. “Doing well in that area pays off in incremental sales,” Fran O'Hagan, president of Pied Piper, told WardsAuto. “The entire industry has improved because of that.”
“The reason you are seeing this huge improvement is that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” O'Hagan said to Automotive News. “With most programs, improvement usually happens incrementally. Not so with how you handle Internet leads. This results in huge changes, right away.”
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Automotive News First Shift
Secret shoppers pick Porsche
Porsche and dealerships ranked highest in a study that looked how auto dealers handle internet leads.
Pied Piper's annual study used internet mystery shopping to contact 11,000+ dealerships to see how the U.S. dealer networks for all car brands compare.
Study Says Dealers Handling Internet Customers Better
Dealerships are getting better at responding to online customers, and the reason seems clear to Fran O'Hagan.
“Dealers who handle Internet leads effectively sell a lot more vehicles than dealers who do not,” says the president of consultancy Pied Piper Management. “That is why manufacturers and individual dealers are so interested in this.”
Dealer behavior can change slowly in some respects, he says. “It is like changing the direction of a ship at sea.” Not so with the rapid improvements dealerships have shown in fielding online customer queries.
“Doing well in that area pays off in incremental sales,” O'Hagan tells WardsAuto. “The entire industry has improved because of that.”
But some brands outdo others, as evidenced by Pied Piper's annual Prospect Satisfaction Index. The firm mystery shops to measure dealership Internet effectiveness in areas such as reply time and quality of response content.
Porsche, Nissan and Audi dealerships rank highest in this year's satisfaction index. Lowest scorers are Mini, Mitsubishi and Scion in the cellar.
Industrywide performance continues to improve, with 30 of 33 brands scoring above the industry average from two years ago and 24 of 33 brands scoring above last year's average.
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Press Release: PORSCHE & NISSAN DEALERSHIPS TOP RANKED FOR RESPONSE TO CUSTOMER INTERNET INQUIRIES REPORTS PIED PIPER PSI(R)
Strong improvement pushes Audi, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler toward the top; Plenty of room for further improvement industry-wide: Nearly one-in-four customer internet inquiries still unanswered after 24 hours
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA – March 11, 2013 – Porsche and Nissan dealerships ranked highest in the 2013 Pied Piper PSI(R) Internet Lead Effectiveness™(ILE™) Study, which
measured how auto dealerships respond to customer inquiries received over the internet.
Study rankings by brand were determined by the patent-pending Pied Piper PSI process, which ties “mystery shopping” measurement and scoring to actual industry sales success.
Industry-wide performance continued to improve, with 30 of 33 brands scoring above the industry average from two years ago; and 24 of 33 brands scoring above last year's industry average.
The study showed that salespeople responded to customer internet inquiries within 30 minutes nearly half the time (48%).
In contrast, two years ago it took a full hour to receive the same percentage of salesperson responses.
However, there remains plenty of room for improvement.
Nearly one-in-four of today's customer internet inquiries remain unanswered after 24 hours; unchanged from last year.
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