LAS VEGAS — General Motors is offering a new service to assist dealers in responding to customer email inquiries 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Dealer Sales Email Lead Program, to be launched Monday, April 9, calls for employees of the GM Business Development Center's chat solutions team to respond to sales leads from a third party such as Cars.com on behalf of the dealership within 30 minutes of receipt when it's closed.
"Time is important," Michael Bojarczyk, GM senior manager of marketing support, said last week during the Chevrolet Dealer Business Conference here.
"You've got to make sure that you address the customers' questions, answer those questions and provide value back to the customer," he said.
More than half of email inquiries to dealers, according to Bojarczyk, are received while dealerships are closed.
GM's chat solutions team currently includes about 50 "highly educated" employees who have writing experience, according to Bojarczyk. The company, he said, will add personnel as the email program expands.
Mike Bowsher, head of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council and owner of Carl Black Automotive Group in Georgia, has been part of a pilot program for the new email solution for the past year. He views it as an extension of his current business development center.
"We're missing a lot of those opportunities," he said. "After hours, there's always someone there. We can't staff 24 hours a day. GM can."
Scott Bell, Chevrolet director of sales operations, said many dealers, like Bowsher, hire a third-party company to help with such responsibilities.
Without disclosing an exact price, he said the cost is "more than competitive," while offering better-informed responses.
"I would argue that our solution has a much better quality of response and activity, which drives a better turn rate for a dealer for that investment," Bell said.
The company's chat, which launched in 2016, and email services are separate options for dealers of GM brands. They can enroll through GM's Global Connect system.
The email solution was one of several dealer services and programs outlined by the company during the Las Vegas conference.