Most dealers mine their customer database when sales slow. Smart dealers prevent slowdowns by data mining full-time.  - Photo by Rawf8 via GettyImages.com

Most dealers mine their customer database when sales slow. Smart dealers prevent slowdowns by data mining full-time.

Photo by Rawf8 via GettyImages.com

It’s a good bet you’ve heard the following: “You have a 15% chance of selling to a new customer, but a 65% chance of selling to an existing one.” And chances are your dealership is capable of accessing today’s advanced data mining solutions, which do much of the heavy lifting by probing your database for sold and unsold buyers, customers in an equity position, service history and activity, website behavior, and more.

You set the criteria, and these solutions serve up the opportunities. It’s what happens next that causes dealers to lose faith in the promise of data mining.

The missing link for most dealers is a defined process that’s written down, implemented, and managed. Even without a process, data mining can generate 21% to 26% of your dealership’s monthly business.

With a proven process — and a point person — data mining won’t be something you do only when there’s a slowdown in sales. Here’s how it’s done, in four steps:

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Step 1: Manage the Pipeline.

Done correctly, data mining should reduce your ad budget, especially when it comes to third-party lead providers. Think about it: Factor in the cost of digital marketing as well as print, radio, and television advertising, which you’re still going to want to do in some fashion. Add it all up, and you’re looking at a cost per lead of $300 to more than $1,000.

If you wrap your data mining efforts around a process overseen by a dedicated BDC manager, you can expect your cost per lead to drop below $100. And part of a dedicated manager’s duty is to run those CRM reports to make sure your dealership didn’t initiate contact with a lead for which your lead provider wants to take credit. That individual can then apply for a loan with that lead provider by sending over that list with the date and time your dealership reached out to those customers.

The author recommends putting your BDC manager in charge of you data mining phone and email campaign.  - Photo by Violeta Stoimenova via GettyImages.com

The author recommends putting your BDC manager in charge of you data mining phone and email campaign.

Photo by Violeta Stoimenova via GettyImages.com

Why do you need a dedicated individual to oversee your data mining process? Because the system is going to identify potential buyers who need to be contacted immediately.

You need someone to champion those opportunities — a job that might overwhelm the typical salesperson. Hey, your salespeople have plenty of phone and floor ups to handle, demos to conduct, offers and deliveries to make, customers to follow up with, and calls that need to be made to unsold customers.

Step 2: Tell, Don’t Sell.

Phone training is imperative. Without those skills, the effectiveness of outbound calls drops dramatically. First and foremost, those calls need to center around the customer, not your need to sell a car.

Additionally, your scripts shouldn’t be too involved or specific. It can be as simple as “I noticed you’ve owned your car for X period of time. With current factory incentives and rebates, I can probably get you into a new car at the same payment.”

Finally, make sure you base your scripts on current events. For instance, you can say:

“Hi, this is Winston. I hope I’m not interrupting anything important. I’m sure you have seen the news about the current trade wars and tariffs. This has had some effect on the used car market. One positive result for you is it has dramatically increased the value of used cars. Would it be OK if we made you a cash offer on your car?”

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Step 3: Manage the Campaign.

Your data mining initiative will not succeed on phone calls alone. Look for a data mining solution that facilitates email campaigns, and be sure to include a link to a webpage that reinforces the message contained in those emails. The message can outline a new opportunity or OEM program, for example, and your landing page can provide more in-depth details.

For lease customers, the email can start with:

“This is a friendly reminder that your lease is set to expire in six months. Following are the things you can expect during your lease return.” Then, “By the way, there is a Platinum Program available that’s designed to help you get out of your lease early. For more information, click on the link below.” The landing page can then open with the following: “Congratulations! You qualify for this program.”

Yes, someone has to build those pages. But a link to your homepage will be far less compelling.

Step 4: Focus on Fixed Ops.

Committing to the process I’ve outlined can also drive service business. But you will need your BDC to drive those activities. Your service advisors don’t have time. And by letting customers know it’s time for an oil change or that it has been more than a year since their last visit, you’ll be able to keep both your service and sales records current.

One person who will love your data mining tool’s service appointment feature is your used car manager. They will be sure to check the day’s service appointments, which, depending on the data mining system you use, should also list the value of the vehicles coming in for service.

Your car is on my buy list. When you get here, do you mind if my used car manager looks at it and makes an offer?

Trust me, that’s an easy call to make. It might go something like this:

“Hi, this is Winston with ABC Motors. I’m calling to confirm your service appointment tomorrow at 10 a.m.” The customer will respond with a “Yes,” which allows you to transition to the following: “While you’re here, did you need transportation anywhere?”

Again, everything you’ve said to this point benefits the customer, which sets up the following:

“I just noticed something. Your car is on my buy list. When you get here, do you mind if my used car manager looks at it and makes an offer?”

If you don’t get a bite, you want to mention a program that might get the customer to consider the offer. “As long as your credit hasn’t changed, I can probably get you into a new car and lower your payment by $10 to $20, or $40 to $50.” That’s my second run, and you always want to take two runs at everything.

Now, the person you select to champion your data mining process doesn’t necessarily need to be a BDC manager. It just needs to be a person who has a clear and pleasant voice and can think on their feet. And if this person is making calls, they will need to deliver the script without sounding like they’re reading from one. Voice inflections and the ability to go off and back on script are critical because the script is just a roadmap to where you need to go.

Winston Harrell is a 33-year industry veteran who serves as a strategic growth manager for users of DealerSocket’s RevenueRadar data mining tool.

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