General Motors Co. has chosen Canadian technology firm SCI Ltd. to funnel Internet leads to all GM franchise dealers.
According to SCI, the deal should save GM at least $10 million annually by consolidating work now being done by various Internet-lead providers.
SCI's core business is to act as a single source of a variety of online leads, whether they are for new- or used-vehicle sales or service and parts. SCI CEO Chris Cawston says leads are delivered to dealers instantly, not held and then released in batches. "If you don't respond to leads promptly, they go bad in a hurry," Cawston says.
Some GM dealers had not been given details of the deal. But Asher Panian, general manager of Joe Panian Chevrolet in suburban Detroit, says his store has lost business because of delays in getting Internet leads.
"To have real-time leads is a better way to do business," he says. "I'm glad they are finally getting onboard with this. No one can put a finger on why our leads are sometime delayed by days. This has always been one of our complaints."
GM spokesman John McDonald confirmed that SCI had been chosen "to handle a consolidation move of internal software systems for us that will make processing customer leads much faster and improve dealer responsiveness to those inquiries." He declined to comment further.
All Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealers will get their leads through SCI. But dealers can hire SCI or use other vendors to manage those leads. That can involve such things as providing more information about the person making the inquiry or sending out product information.
Cawston says half of GM's dealers already use SCI's lead management system in their stores. SCI's software is accessed online, rather than through a server installed in the dealership.
Richard Truett contributed to this report