If your anything like me your sick of hearing about COVID-19 and you may well be rolling your eyes at the prospect of reading yet another COVID-19 themed article....but hear us out - this one is not the normal doom & gloom about the challenges ahead, or espousing any unrealistic expectations that everything is back to normal.
At AutoPlay through our conversations with dealers it's been made clear that a lot of the franchise dealers we work with want to look to the future and move on past what was certainly a difficult time for the automotive industry in NZ. That said something we've heard talking heads rather cynically trot out the old Winston Churchill line that "you should never waste a good crisis".
Whilst a little heartless towards the many people that have lost their livelihoods or struggled over the past 3 months the concept does have merit.
At AutoPlay we were forced to work differently. Like many businesses we had the challenge of maintaining relationships with our customers without being able to do face-to-face contact, and we had to find different ways of communicating with our fellow staff members when we couldn't yell at them from across the office.
For dealerships we've heard a lot of talk of 'right sizing' for the future market - which is entirely valid but not what we want to focus on in this article. During COVID-19 AutoPlay put a lot of effort into shifting our development to what dealers wanted during Level 3 and the early stages of Level 2. Some of these like the Visitor Book were short term ways of addressing specific challenges, whilst others might have ongoing applications well after COVID-19 is firmly in the rear view mirror. So what have we learnt from working with COVID-19? It's time to get out the crystal ball...
Over the shutdown we've seen first hand dealerships embrace Skype/Zoom/Teams as a way to communicate with AutoPlay. Where we previously struggled to get the same level of engagement with dealers and brands over video chat when compared to face-to-face visits, during and post COVID-19 we've managed to run a number of online training sessions. With dealerships we've seen dealers re-engage with video as a communication medium and at a more basic level pay real attention to the information on their website and the way their vehicles are presented online.
+ What will happen in the future?
Many dealers will continue to focus on their online presence more and continue to look at video walk-arounds and recordings as a viable means to connect with their customers.
- What will remain the same?
In NZ in particular there is a large portion of the market that still prefer to deal with people over the phone or face-to-face. Whilst it's possible retail presences will be consolidated its likely the experience of buying a car from a dealership will continue to be a focus for dealers in the next few years at least.
COVID-19 often meant you couldn't be in front of your customer, and when you could you certainly couldn't hand over a shared device to get customers to sign T&C's etc. This forced the hands of many software providers to offer contactless solutions to help support dealerships to continue to sell cars.
+ What will happen in the future?
At AutoPlay we believe on of the stronger learnings from the COVID-19 experience that will stick with dealers in the future is the need to provide customers with alternative ways of connecting with the dealership. This doesn't necessarily mean brand new technology, but rather applying that technology in different ways. At AutoPlay we are working on new ways of prompting Lead, Test Drive, Appraisal and Calendar Bookings to be completed by the customer - be it via web page "plug-ins" or SMS invites. Allowing the customer to complete as much of the process as possible from the comfort of their own home is a win-win for dealers and their customers alike.
- What will remain the same?
The sales process won't change massively in the short term - the road-to-the-sale isn't going anywhere soon. Although the method and location may change, the goal is still to move the customer through the road-to-the-sale process as efficiently as possible whilst ensuring you maintain a positive customer experience throughout the journey.
Making The Most Of What You've Got
We saw first hand that leads dropped off a cliff during COVID-19, and whilst the key KPI's of Leads, Test Drives, Sales and Appraisals have all bounced back to normal (or close to) levels, theres still been an obvious focus from the dealers we talk to on making the most out of the leads you are generating.
+ What will happen in the future?
With sales it's very easy to fall into the allure of targeting the newer leads that have come into the dealership. Lead conversion to sales generally sits between 20% to 30% for the majority of dealers. Coming out of COVID we've seen more emphasis on replying to leads faster, with better quality replies, and working leads more. The feedback right now is that the market is flying high, and whilst it's possible that over the next 6-12 months there could be fewer leads dealerships and brands will demonstrate a renewed emphasis on not only basic lead management principles as a way to leverage the leads they do have, but mining their existing customers, lost leads, end of finance and appraisals as a way to generate more leads rather than waiting for customers to come to them.
- What will remain the same?
I've been told by many salespeople that sales is a numbers game. If you don't have the leads in the funnel you won't have the volume to convert to sales down the track. Dealers will continue to look at ways of generating new leads - whether that's through new brand initiatives, utilizing additional tools and services or branching out how and where they advertise. This is a vital part of keeping a dealership ticking over but will need to be balanced against the need to fully squeeze the existing leads that have already been paid for in time and money.
At AutoPlay we don't know the future....but with over 80% of the franchise dealer market as customers we have a pretty good understanding of the challenges dealers face in the pre-sale space and we are constantly working to improve our products and services to help dealers meet these challenges head on. If you've got any questions about what you could be doing differently in this new reality make sure to reach our to your account manager Norman or Jackie, or zap an email through to email@example.com.
As many of you know, AutoPlayAuto.com was launched in July 2019 as a major platform upgrade to a full HTML 5 web application, available for login at https://autoplayauto.com.
The majority of our users have already migrated to AutoPlayAuto.com and we thank you for that. If you are yet to make the move, you will need to ensure that you’re using the new app https://autoplayauto.com on all your devices including desktop PCs, iPads and mobile phones rather than continue to use the old Silverlight app on PC or iOS app on iPads and iPhones. These old apps will no longer be supported from 3rd August 2020. Access to them will be disabled from this time.
If you have the old iOS app installed, please delete it from your device. When using the new application;
AutoPlay have a comprehensive library of support documentation and videos available from the Support portal, accessible at https://support.autoplayauto.com/portal/kb
By accessing AutoPlay from https://autoplayauto.com you will always have the most up to date version of AutoPlay. If you need any extra help, or have questions, please contact AutoPlay via firstname.lastname@example.org
For the last few months we’ve been heavily affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. With lead volumes dropping to a fraction of normal rates we made the decision to take a break from our monthly publication of Lead Source stats for the NZ market.
At the time of writing this article it is now the end of May. Although Lead, Test Drive, Appraisal and Sales volumes are still below what they were in pre-COVID-19 times, we have seen a strong rebound of activity in the last 2 weeks of March to almost pre COVID-19 levels.
April 2020 was completely dead as dealerships were shut down during the Level 4 restrictions. Similarly, the first few weeks of April there was very little activity, with the real activity only commencing on the 28th of April – the first day of Level 3 restrictions. This flurry of activity continued throughout May as dealers found a way to generate leads. As NZ moved into Level 2 on the 14th of March we’ve found Test Drives and Sales have steadily grown.
Overall compared to April the contrast is staggering. Whilst at Level 4 there was almost no activity except limited website leads, May 2020 saw a 285.8% increase in the volume of Leads from the previous month – whilst Test Drives increased by 829.3% and Sales increased by 235.6%.
The top 3 sources of leads was unsurprising as the typical lead sources remained strong and online sources rebounded more quickly. The most common source of leads in May 2020 was ‘Web – Classified’ with 152.1% more leads generated than in April. ‘Web – Dealer’ was the second most common source of leads – increasing by 221.1%. Leads generated by the ‘Brand’ OEM group represented the third most common source of leads in May and increased by 893.8% as Brand Groups lurched back into life.
Test Drives were logically the most impacted by Level 3 & 4 shutdowns as evidenced by the massive increase in Test Drive volume as soon as dealers were able to safely do so. As with Leads, online sources remained strong as dealers converted some of those to Test Drives as soon as they were able. Test Drives from ‘Web – Dealer’ sources increased 664.2% whilst Test Drives from ‘Web – Classified’ sources like Trade Me, Driven and Autotrader increased by 756.3%. Test Drives attributed to ‘Direct’ sources were the third most common source of leads with a sizeable increase of 1187.7% from April to May – reflecting more customers potentially walking in without previously enquiring in late May as confidence in Level 2 restrictions grow.
During the Level 3 & 4 restrictions we still saw Sales being made as many canny operators were able to record forward orders during the shutdown. The top source for sales remains ‘Web – Classified’ sources with 298.9% more sales attributed to these sources in May than April. ‘Web – Dealer’ sales increased by 359.8% and sales to ‘Repeat’ customers increased by 81.2%.
Make sure to check back next month to see the top sources of leads, test drives and sales in June 2020.
* Note - AutoPlay don't intend this advice to conflict with any advice from the government on COVID-19 and social distancing rules. This article is only intended to help dealerships get through the shutdown and come out the other end with the tools required to get back onto their feet. Please follow the governments current rules and be safe!
With the recent news that NZ is entering COVID-19 Level 4 it means that the sales departments of dealerships nationwide have been required to be closed down for 4 weeks. What the full picture means for kiwi dealerships will become more clear over the coming weeks, but what is clear is that with no face-to-face customer contact there will be fewer leads coming into the dealership - even considering the potential for the general public to continue pre-purchase research online.
At AutoPlay we are keen to ensure that when the Level 4 Restrictions are lifted that your dealership is well equipped to hit the ground running in a post COVID-19 world. This means not only implementing an effective process for tracking and keeping leads in a holding pattern over the next 4 weeks, but also ensuring the dealership is equipped to deal with the public that may still be gun-shy about face-to-face contact.
What should I be doing now?
With the news having just dropped this week that NZ is effectively closed this week there are a number of things your dealership should be doing to make sure that you are set up for the next phase. If you haven't done this it's not too late!
1. Utilising Social Channels
Make sure to update your customers with what is happening at your dealership. Announcing this on Facebook is a nice, non invasive way of ensuring customers can stay up to date. This is a free activity that a dealership can do to engage with their target audience without requiring a sales team actively working.
2. Review Lead Management Settings
3. Review your Automatic Response templates?
It's very likely that during the shutdown period you won't have anywhere near a full team working - however that doesn't mean all your listing are pulled from being online and nor does it mean that customers won't continue to send email enquiries (though how much this occurs remains to be seen).
What can AutoPlay help with during the Lv4 restrictions?
Whilst the Level 4 restrictions are in place it's a definite that customers won't be coming into the dealership to view, test drive and purchase vehicles. However whats less clear is whether customers will still email the dealership to register interest or ask questions. If this happens you need to ensure you have a mechanism to manage these leads.
1. Send personalised videos with AutoPlay's Email Response Tool
AutoPlay has a built in video Email Response tool. If you can't be face to face with your customers then recording a personalised voice-over video can be the next best thing.
2. Communicate via SMS
3. Ensure you can track customer enquiry via Brochureware and the Wishlist Form
For the vast majority of dealerships in NZ getting stock to our little corner of the world will be challenging - whether it's brand new stock, or used imports.
What can AutoPlay help with once the restrictions are eased?
In an ideal world in 4 weeks the restrictions will lift and everyone can return to normality. However there is going to be fall out even after this happens (whenever that might be). Not only will the dealership be facing stock challenges but your sales team also will not have the cumulative pool of leads to manage. However you are not starting from scratch!
1. Audit your existing leads in AutoPlay
2. Re-prospect with Live Leads
It's likely when normality resumes you'll have a lot of cold leads that will need warming up again. When it's appropriate it might be worth using AutoPlay Live Leads to re-target these potential customers
3. In Market Leads
With cold leads and appraisals it might be tricky to work out which leads are worth contacting again once you finally do get more stock. In Market Leads looks at new listings and will automatically connect them to customers that might potentially be interested in the new stock
What if I still need my Sales Team to sometimes work remotely once the restrictions are eased?
We don't know what the future will hold. It's possible that even with an easing of the rules, there still might be restrictions impacting how your sales team can operate.
1. Work From Home Preparedness
Should we find an increasing reliance on working remotely whether it be through government restrictions or simply if the general public remains concerned about visiting too many places, it might change how we sell cars for much longer than we anticipated. In that scenario there are a number of things you can do to streamline these efforts.
Sales Person Items
2. Ability to conduct offsite Test Drive and Appraisals
Should the market dictate it we may find more customers wanting service away from a traditional dealership environment.
AutoPlay are working throughout the restrictions to make sure we can be there when you need us. If you want any assistance with any of the services AutoPlay can offer please contact email@example.com and we'll get one of our awesome customer experience team to get in touch.
AutoPlay is incredibly feature rich and when used right AutoPlay will help minimise lost leads, as well as helping improve transparency, accuracy and efficiency. In 2019 we put together a case study detailing how AutoPlay has helped one dealer group improve their conversion from 21% to 31% (named here as 'Excellent Motor Group' for privacy reasons).
So how was this improvement in lead conversion from 21% to 30% achieved? Firstly, the industry benchmark for online lead handling is to reply within less than 10 minutes. Most dealers fall quite short of this and although performing solidly - Excellent Motors likewise had room for improvement.
Through working with AutoPlayAuto.com Excellent Motor Group were able to gain transparency over how long their sales teams were taking to reply to leads. Through these insights they were able to focus on improving this KPI by 58% - resulting in more customers engaged with before they have a chance to turn elsewhere.
As well as being first to respond its also important to make sure you continue to follow up. On average it takes 5 customer touchpoints to make a sale. At AutoPlay we also see sales being logged after contacting the customer 10 or more times.
They say success leaves clues. When looking at how Excellent Motors compare against another similarly sized dealer group we see that Excellent Motor Group made more than 340 sales after contacting customers more than 5 times - compared to only 190 for the similarly sized group.
This level of contact can only be sustained with effective lead Management processes and toold designed to show you what you need to do, when you need to do it.
As well as contacting customers first, and contacting customers the most, you also want to make sure you are retargeting customers who have not bought from you. Lost leads is something AutoPlay often preach about as we believe lost leads are the single biggest opportunity to improve lead management and sales performance.
With Excellent Motor Group AutoPlay saw that they only were making on average 2.3 contacts on leads that were ultimately closed as lost. AutoPlayAuto.com helped them re-market to every single lead closed as lost across their entire dealer network. This method of proactively reintroducing their customers to the sale pipeline resulted in an incremental increase of 22 sales in just 12 months - with no increase in lead volumes.
AutoPlay now can offer Dealer Performance Coaching to our customer network. Dealer Performance Coaching focuses on identifying the weak areas in your lead management processes and comes up with a tailored plan to help coach your dealership or dealer group to improved lead management standards. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and reference "Dealer Performance Coaching" to find out more.
In the latest version of AutoPlayAuto.com you can now click on the Phone or Mobile number field to automatically make a phone call on any compatible device. If the field is editable there will be a green 'CALL' button. If the field is not editable simply click on the Phone number to prompt the call.
After clicking on the phone number or the CALL button your call will be logged in the Sales Pipeline in 3 places.
The Lead Progress will also be automatically updated to 'Phone Call Made' (if Progress is past 'Phone Call Made' it will date stamp the appropriate Progress step but will not update the leads current progress). Note - this only works with the standardised list of Lead Progress steps.
At this stage AutoPlay cannot record and capture phone conversations directly via the AutoPlayAuto.com application.
When is "lost" actually lost when it comes to sales leads?
This is a recurring question that every dealer must ask themselves. Too cautious about closing your leads as lost and you run the risk of cluttering your dashboard with cold leads, and compromising your sales peoples efficiency in managing leads. Too often we see dealers that don't want to close their leads as "lost", and these inevitably end up as Overdue or Stalled leads.
Conversely if you are to aggressive in qualifying your leads as lost then you might be burning your potential customers too soon. It's not a good look when customers are still actively in the market and salespeople choose not to follow up with them due to a perception they won't result in a sale.
It's a delicate balance - something that dealers manage in different ways. Some will use AutoPlays Role Management Settings to restrict who can mark a lead as lost in their dealership, whilst others will set the account up to allow anyone to close leads as lost, but notify managers when this happens.
The important thing to remember is that closing a lead as 'lost' doesn't necessarily mean you should stop talking to these customers - it just changes the method of communication and clears up the dashboard in Sales Pipeline, allowing salespeople to focus on more active leads. All 'Closed Lost' leads can still be filtered to, and reports such as the Closed Lost Reason Report allow you to identify these leads in bulk, AutoPlay has built in tools such as Live Leads which let you target recently closed lost leads with bulk eDM's - allowing dealerships to re-qualify leads enmasse in a way that might be hard to achieve with individual personalised follow up. Whatever your approach, there should at least be an approach as there's still juice to be squeezed from these leads - something Manukau Hyundai recently experienced first hand.
Case Study: Manukau Hyundai Targets Closed Lost Leads
Recently Manukau Hyundai hired a new salesperson. To get them started they decided they would allow the new salesperson to have a crack at leads that the dealership had previously closed as lost.
To do this the dealership ran a Closed Lost Report from 1st July 2018 to 31st March 2019. By exporting this list of leads via the 'Export' function in reporting.autoplay.co.nz the dealership was able to come up with a list of potential leads for the new salesperson to follow up with.
The new salesperson set about managing these leads and in just a month had achieved 16 sales from the pool of leads the dealership had previously classified as 'Closed Lost'.
There is nothing wrong with closing leads as lost! However this story proves the value in following up Close Lost leads as there is potentially money to be made. Whether you follow up individually like Manukau Hyundai did, or you target these leads with bulk eDM's or Live Leads - the important thing is to have awareness of these leads, and a dedicated process for your dealership to verify they are truly lost sales opportunities.
If you would like to talk to AutoPlay about how you can identify and re-target your Closed Lost leads contact email@example.com and one of our account managers will get in touch.
After a down December saw AutoPlay customers capture significantly fewer Leads, Test Drives and Sales than the month prior, January 2019 saw a significant increase in activity across all key KPI’s. The volume of Leads (up 16.1% from Dec 18), Test Drives (up 19.5%) and Sales (up 16.2%) all returned to normal levels in January 2019.
‘Web – Dealer’ regained the top spot as the most common source of leads for kiwi dealers in January 2019 – up 15.7% from December 2018. This pushed ‘Web – Classified’ down to the second most common source of leads, increasing by 8.1% from the month prior. In December 2018 the volume of ‘Brand’ leads suffered the most as brands wound down for Xmas – decreasing by 38.8%. In January ‘Brands’ increased marketing activity back to normal levels and subsequently dealers using AutoPlay reported an increase in leads from this source of 29.7% from December 2018.
With the number of Test Drives captured overall increasing by 19.5% we saw an increase in Test Drives recorded against each Source with ‘Web – Dealer’ (up 10.5%), ‘Direct’ (up 20.1%) and ‘Web – Classified’ (8.7%) sources all seeing increases in Test Drive volume.
Continuing the trend, Sales increased across the board in January 2018. Sales attributed to the ‘Web – Dealer’ source increase by 13%, ‘Web – Classified’ increased by 8.7% and ‘Repeat increased by 6.5% from December 2018 to January 2019.
Make sure to check back in March to find out the most common sources of Leads, Test Drives and Sales in February 2019. To find out more about the range of reports available via AutoPlay contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or +64 9 361 1505.
It's that time of year again when we all resolve to lose weight/be kinder/spend less/eat better. In the spirit of "new year, new you" here are 5 AutoPlay resolutions you can make to get the most out of the AutoPlay suite of products.
1. I will respond to leads faster than ever before
I'm not going to define for you a suitable time to reply to customer enquiries as every dealer and region is different, with different expectations and different resources (though 2 hours could be used as a good benchmark). Your first resolution is simply to work out firstly how long you are taking to reply to customer enquiries - check out the Email Reply & Allocation Report. Once you know how long you are currently taking, knock 20% off and make this your new target. It doesn't have to become part of your salesperson kpi's, but the addition of a documented goal to respond to all new leads will help all the salespeople understand the expectations on them.
2. I will re-market to my existing leads...using the tools I already have available to me!
Many of our customers would have heard various members of the AutoPlay team bleating on and on about the fact that on average dealerships only convert 50% of their leads to Test Drives, and 20% to Sales. We really hammer this point home because if you do the math it shows that 80% of the leads you've generated will not actually result in a sale. Clearly this represents a huge opportunity for sales people to really work their lead database. The Dashboard makes it super easy to identify the progress stage each lead is at, and built in tools such as Live Leads, In Market Leads and the Email Response Tool make it easy to target these customers for no additional spend. Get someone responsible for sending Live Leads out each month and make the most out of every cent you spend.
3. Personalise your customer comms
As detailed in make-2019-the-year-you-personalise-your-comms.html the internet continues to be an impersonal space, and building rapport with prospective customers is key to enage with them. AutoPlay's suite of products offers ample opportunities to inject personality into the online space with Virtual Demo Videos and Video Email Response Tool. Depending on your package these tools will not cost any additional and can be a great way to drive engagement with your dealership.
4. Start using In Market Leads & Wishlists to connect your deals
The benefit of using digital tools to manage your leads is that everything gets captured. The weakness of many digital lead capture systems is they don't help salespeople connect deals together. At AutoPlay we've worked hard to provide tools that help sales people digest all the overwhelming volumes of information they have access to. The Wishlist is used when your sales team cannot pin a customer down to a particular vehicle in stock. It will automatically alert the salesperson when a matching vehicle comes into stock, or is appraised on another deal. In Market Leads serves a similar purpose - when a new vehicle comes into stock or the price of an existing vehicles is dropped the system will look at all of the leads that have been captured (based on customisable criteria), and alert the manager to those customers that might be interested in the price dropped or new listing. These tools are built into the standard Sales Pipeline so will not cost any additional money - use them!
5. Understand Reporting
It's hard to make decisions if you don't understand what is happening - so understanding reporting is critical to your success with AutoPlay Sales Pipeline. Reporting can be more than just tracking the past - it can also identify opportunities for the future and now. If you know you convert 50% of your Test Drives to Sales via the Lead Conversion Report, and you know you've got 40 leads sitting at Test Drive Progress via the Sales Pipeline Report then it's easy to connect the dots and work out a plan to convert 20 of those leads into Test Drives. AutoPlay has a wealth of reports from raw data extracts in the form of the Lead Audit, to the 15+ reports in reporting.autoplay.co.nz. If you are a Sales Manager it's critically important that you understand what the reports are showing you.
If you want to talk to someone about any of these functions contact email@example.com and one of our Account Managers will get in touch.
Recently I stumbled across one of the ubiquitous “top digital trends for 2019” articles that you see at this time of the year, every year. One of the key trends I’ve seen identified repeatedly is the need to personalise your communications with your potential customers.
Video is one way you can easily personalise your communication, with the added benefit of being one of the more effective ways to engage with potential customers. As you can see from the images above, according to Google 56% of shoppers could be convinced to buy a car from a 360-degree video without having to test drive the vehicle. In addition, 40% of shoppers who watched a video about cars or trucks visited a dealer as a result.
It is said that some industries are already seeing up to a 30% increase in close rates (Adpearance). At AutoPlay we’ve run our own surveys about the AutoPlay Video Email Response tool and have had dealers report back increases of 60% when replying to customer enquiry with video, as opposed to tradition text-based emails. There’s clear evidence that personalising your customer comms will drive higher engagement from potential customers.
So how can you utilise the AutoPlay suite of products to personalise your customer communication?
1. AutoPlay Virtual Demo Videos
Personalising your customers web experience is difficult, however steps can be taken to inject personality into the online space via AutoPlay Virtual Demo videos. These videos let dealerships customise their own recording scripts, and record their own unique voiceovers on listing videos – a great way to introduce the dealerships personality into the online space.
2. Embed Youtube Videos
If you have an AutoPlay Vehicle Display Page you will be able to embed a Youtube video into the VIDEO LINK field in the AutoPlay Studio. This allows dealerships to embed any video they have rights to use, within their AutoPlay vehicle stock page.
3. AutoPlay Video Email Response Tool – Stitched Video
The AutoPlay Video Email Response Tool was one of the first digital communication tools that AutoPlay built and is still going strong to this date. The Email Response Tool allows salespeople to inject their personality into the online space, and has proven to be an effective way of building rapport with prospective customers. Although we are a tech company, we have an old school mentality when it comes to emails – you are not likely to sell a car directly from an email, but how you reply to email enquiries will directly affect your prospective customers decision to visit the dealership. The default mode for the email tool is to stitch the audio onto the existing images – making it extremely easy to build straight from the app.
4. AutoPlay Video Email Response Tool – Filmed Video
If you are using the iOS App you can utilise the camera on your iphone/ipad to film a true video walk around of the car – hopping in and out, opening the boot and engine bay and even starting the engine. Filming a true video definitely takes more skill and confidence than recording a voice-over, but can really help to personalise the experience for potential customers.
AutoPlay Sales Pipeline is a pre-sales lead management tool designed for dealerships, dealer groups and automakers