Photo ©

Photo ©

A crucial component of your dealership’s success is your customer relationship management system. Your CRM helps you efficiently receive and respond to leads — as well as communicate with customers — all to increase revenue. The data it holds also helps you make critical business decisions, such as where to place your ad spend.

However, if your CRM data set is incomplete or inaccurate, the information you extract from it can improperly influence lead follow-up, customer interactions, and important spending decisions. It’s not that your CRM is wrong. The data you need either isn’t there or was entered inaccurately.

How big is this problem? It’s likely happening in your dealership right now. Let’s take a look at why it’s happening and how you can fix it.

Here’s Your Problem

The data in your CRM is entered one of two ways: automatically, through integrations with your DMS and other systems, or manually, by your employees. Automatic data entry is generally a foolproof way to guarantee that your CRM data is accurate, but few dealers have automated all processes. Many still require staff to manually enter calls and showroom visits.

This is where the problem of “selective compliance” begins. Put simply, this is where employees start selectively deciding what information to enter. Why would they do this?

Imagine a sales representative takes a showroom visit that doesn’t end in a transaction. He may not enter that lead information because it could hurt his closing rate. Or maybe your CRM requires employees to complete certain fields, but the salesperson doesn’t have that information, so she makes something up. It could also be as simple as an employee deciding that it’s not important where a lead came from.

Dealers are not able to track communications and ensure compliance when sales managers and staff use their own phones to talk and text with customers.  Photo ©

Dealers are not able to track communications and ensure compliance when sales managers and staff use their own phones to talk and text with customers. Photo ©

Selective compliance is especially problematic when it comes to phone leads. Few dealerships have technology to capture all incoming and outgoing calls. This leaves it up to your employees to log calls — a risky proposition at best. As a result, this valuable data may never enter your CRM.

This is a big problem. According to Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader, the phone is still the first contact for up to 25% of car buyers, second only to unannounced walk-ins. Additionally, NCM Associates reports the closing rate for phone leads is 17.5% to 21.5%, which exceeds both website and manufacturer leads from third-party sources.

Inaction Has Consequences

Selective compliance has real negative consequences for your dealership. Arguably the biggest consequence is how it can skew your ad spend. If you’re not getting the right information as a result of selective compliance, you could be deploying ad dollars away from a source that may actually be giving you good leads.

For example, let’s say you have a marketing campaign running with a third-party provider. A call comes in, the provider logs the call, and gets it to your front door. But then what happened? Did the call get transferred two or three times and then dropped? Did a salesperson answer the call but fail to log it in your CRM because it did not result in an appointment?

If you’re not tracking all segments of every call and instead relying on manual data entry, you risk capturing less than 100% of your opportunities. As a result, your provider may show 1,000 leads came your way, but you’ve only logged 800. Suddenly you don’t believe this provider and may redeploy your ad spend, when it fact, the campaign is working.

This type of scenario also means that you can’t follow up with what may be a promising lead. The same applies to showroom visits that aren’t properly entered into your CRM. Selective compliance hurts your follow-up process, which in turn costs you gross.

It’s also worth noting the mobile element at play in dealerships today. Too many dealers allow employees to use their personal phones to interact with prospects and customers. They have no way to track call data or compliance. This poses a grave risk of selective compliance and lack of data entry that will further skew your CRM numbers.

As an aside, it also means that if an employee quits or is fired, your valuable customer information stored in that employee’s personal phone goes down the street — and most likely to a competitor.

How to Plug the Compliance Holes

The best way to combat selective compliance is to automate your processes so that human intervention is not required. Seamless integrations between your CRM, your DMS, and your website are a great place to start.

Consider investing in tools that can help you track all incoming and outgoing phone calls, including mobile calls on company-owned phones. These solutions also track all segments of the call so you know definitively where to put your ad dollars. This is also an effective training tool. You can listen to the calls and identify areas where employees may not be asking the right questions or conveying your brand message properly.

If you’re not ready for full automation, there are other ways to plug some of your compliance holes. One way is to routinely audit your CRM’s “source” tab. Dive into a few leads every day and cross-check with employees to determine whether a lead source is correct. This requires actively questioning your employees, but if they are entering leads correctly, they should have nothing to hide.

When it comes to phone calls, you can routinely audit your recorded calls. Pick a few to listen to each day, then check your CRM to ensure the information you heard matches up with what was put into your system.

If you don’t record calls, you can still selectively audit them. Pick a few leads and have your manager call the prospect back with a few simple questions, such as where they heard about your dealership. Then have your manager manually check the CRM data to see if the customer’s answers match the data in your CRM.

Your CRM is an invaluable analytical tool. It can help you interact with your prospects and customers and make the best spending decisions. If selective compliance is resulting in inaccurate or incomplete data, the information you’re extracting from your CRM may be steering you down the wrong road and hurting your business. Commit today to plugging your compliance holes so you can make confident, profitable spending decisions — and ensure valuable leads don’t slip through your fingers.

Steven Barnett is the founder and CEO of dealerTEL, a provider of advanced automotive technology. Contact him at [email protected].