The ongoing microchip shortage and resulting lack of new inventory has changed the psychology of dealership sales staff. Undertrained and ill-prepared at the best of times, these often green employees (a result of high attrition and the labor shortage) are now afraid to engage with potential customers. This assertion is supported by online lead response data from a 2021 mystery shopper study of nearly 4,000 dealer groups that account for 90 percent of one manufacturer's sales in all major markets.
The study found that in May, 25 percent of sales staff addressed vehicle availability in online lead response. In September, only 6 percent did. Also in May, 31 percent of sales staff invited the customer into the dealership. That dropped to only 2 percent in September. Finally, 43 percent addressed payment questions in May. In September, that number shot up to 69 percent. One last point: In May, 57 percent of sales staff sent lead response emails free of typos; that number cratered to 17 percent in September.