Hey, Mr. Dealer. Mickey Mouse is willing to pay $10,000 for the new red Porsche Boxster on your lot.
There is no shortage of such absurd stories among dealership Internet sales departments. Depending on which online lead referral service they use, many dealers take the good with the bad when they buy leads.
That is changing. Some online referral services are putting greater emphasis on lead quality vs. quantity.
"Their clients are demanding it," says Scott Weitzman, senior director of automotive Internet research for J.D. Power and Associates (jdpower.com) in Westlake Village, Calif.
Making a sale demands work. New-car closing ratios for third-party services as a whole remain low - 15 percent in 2002, J.D. Power says.
Improving close ratios was the prime reason Autobytel Inc. began verifying the quality - scrubbing - of its leads about nine months ago. The Irvine, Calif., company (autobytel.com) uses a three-prong approach that relies heavily on IT - created in-house .
As a result, "close rates are up from about 12 percent to about 18 percent," CEO Jeffrey Schwartz says.