4 Processes To Set Your Dealership’s Record Response Times


“Balancing all the activities a dealership conducts is tough, but missing out on responding to leads instantaneously, is an absolute no-no. It’s a sale-loser, and a sure fire way to have a bad first impression.”

Detroit, MI - Detroit Trading BDC Services

New Lead Comes In… Start the Clock…

When you think of buying a car in 2020 there are so many options it’s almost overwhelming to even begin thinking about the process. There are over 300 makes and models on the market, and that’s not including pre-owned. Used amplifies the pool by hundreds, even thousands more. The buying process isn’t any easier — full of negotiation and haggling — and yes it is 2020. No wonder the average car buyer is skeptical and eager to leave. The thing that separates dealerships who end up making the sale and those that don’t is their lead response strategy, and how fast they initially get to the customer. Are you responding to your leads in less than 60 minutes? How about in less than 5 minutes? 60 seconds?

How Much Time Do You Need To Contact a Lead?

With each lead response performance tier you step into, you realize increased close rates. At 60 minutes, leads are less likely to answer than at 5 minutes; the conversation is also going to be less relevant: the shopper might be eating with his or her family at this point. It’s essential to contact the lead when they’re requesting it. It’s that simple. And it’s the difference between achieving 20% or higher close rates (with less than a 5 minute response time), and less than 2% close rates (with a response time of 60 minutes or more). It’s fairly simple to separate yourself as a dealer now a days, and that’s by responding to your leads in less than 5 minutes. Less than 5% of dealers achieve 5 mins or under, and when you look at the close rates of the dealers who practice this religiously, higher and better performance couldn’t be more clear. Let’s put it this way, the chances for contact go down 10x in the first hour alone. Imagine a world where your dealership had a 50x Increase In Contact Rates, and 15x Increase In Qualification… with your own leads

“How much is a rock-solid lead response strategy worth to your Dealership?” Priceless…

Dealership Lead Response Strategies

Now that you understand how important response times are in the automotive industry, let’s review some steps you can take to lock in a solid response time for your BDC operation. It’s imperative to follow this checklist and ensure all four steps are in place.

  1. Set a target of 5 minutes for Response Time
  2. Have an After Hours Strategy
  3. Respond to Every Single Lead, No Exceptions
  4. Answer Questions First and Be Human

1. Declare a 5 Minute Lead Response Time Goal

The hardest thing, and it’s not that hard, about 5 minute response times, is having one process in place that you and your whole team follows. A successful response time process can come in many forms, but the key is to prioritize working fresh leads over all other types of work. No matter what. If your business development rep has a choice of calling a fresh lead that just came in, or following up with a lead that’s a week old — always, always choose the fresh work. Fresh work yields more performance, and only exists as a golden opportunity for a moment. If you can manage to set up one process your team is all aligned on, you’ll all prioritize the most fruitful work, and car sales will follow.

2. Declare an After-Hours Lead Response Strategy

With some dealerships, after hour lead volumes can constitute 40%+ of their lead mix. After-hours leads are exactly what they read to be: leads that come in when your dealership is closed. With that, there’s no staff to work these leads, and golden opportunities lurking about. TCPA states that no business shall make calls to consumers between the hours of 9pm-8am local time. This means no calling or texting these customers during these times. Violating TCPA’s rules can get you into trouble and further more leave you having to pay fines. Ultimately as a dealership you’re left with one option: email the customer. Ensuring that your response times on initial emails sent to overnight leads, can maximize your results from this cohort of leads. First thing the next morning, use leads that came in overnight as a hit-list for the early afternoon. People submitting leads late into the night ofter have jobs that push their schedule into starting their days in the afternoon. The most effective time to reach this group is early afternoon around 1:30pm local time. Using these 3 tactics can help you make the most of this part of your leads mix.

3. Respond to All Your Leads

Sounds simple, but if responding to ALL your leads isn’t in place, automotive BDC performance can’t elevate at all. Your team needs to be aligned on responding to all leads that come into the dealership. If you’re finding that you don’t want to respond to some lead type (or source; eg. AutoTrader) or it’s very ineffective to do so, you should seriously consider getting rid of that source, or hire a third party to do so for you. You can save your dealership time and money doing this. A good practice is to do a lead source review bi-monthly to see if the return is worth the effort required to respond. By prioritizing working fresh leads, all leads at the very least should get responded to. Ensuring a follow up schedule is in place to match the intent of the lead can help develop the lead into a more serious buyer over time. We will cover what a successful follow up schedule includes in another post.

Dealership Lead Response Strategies

4. Answer Questions First and Be Human

Sales people love hopping straight into what they’re selling. They focus on me, me, me — all that’s doing is shooting yourself in the foot. Consumers are people at the end of the day. If you always answer questions first, it’ll give you a big boost in terms of earning the consumers trust and feeling comfortable working with you and your dealership. Making sure to answer questions before getting into your pitch will help you get more leads turned into show room shoppers. And in today’s world, your average car shopper is visiting only 2 dealers before pulling the trigger. So try to be one of those 2 as often as you possibly can!


To sum it up, if you begin following some simple rules, and get your team aligned on a few principles, you should have yourself a much more effective lead response team:

1. Respond Fast (reach out in the first 5 minutes).

2. Respond with the proper channel (if it’s not an after-hours lead, Call first always, Email first if it’s After-hours).

3. Respond with Questions discussed first (don’t ask to clarify context, clarify it… say “it looks like you had some questions about….”).

4. Be consistent and aligned with your team on the process you are using. If someone is out of step it can break the chain.

Detroit Trading – 248.352.1313

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