Auto-By-Tel Corp., an Irvine, Calif., online car-buying service, has found that the 24-hour response time it guarantees online prospects is not quick enough.
Sixty-three percent of consumers who contact Auto-By-Tel for price quotes buy a vehicle within 24 hours, and 84 percent make a purchase within 48 hours, according to the company's research.
Although this is not a mandate, Auto-By-Tel intends to cut the average dealer response time to customer purchase requests to just six hours.
To boost response time, the company has begun giving all its dealers real-time status reports on all their customer leads. Auto-By-Tel used to offer the Dealer Real Time program as an extra service for an additional fee beyond basic subscription to receive online purchase requests. Dealers traditionally have received leads by fax or e-mail.
'We switched over to Dealer Real Time about eight months ago, and our closing ratio went up from 20 percent to 45 percent,' says Allan Cooper, fleet manager of Barwick Automotive Group in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
The Dealer Real Time follow-up system shows dealers the number of new leads, when the leads were received, whether the dealership has made contact with the prospect and the status of the transaction.
To tap the data, dealers enter an identification number and password on the Dealer Real Time site. An alert will pop up on the dealership computer screen showing the number of new purchase requests that have entered the Auto-By-Tel database.