Dealership Texting: Top Reasons to Be Compliant
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Texting is an integral part of our day.
It’s arguably one of the most used applications on the phone, which is why it is crucial that we get it right.
That is understanding not just the “purpose” of texting, but more or less the way we communicate via text message with a customer. Noting that there is still “rapport” that needs to be built, which is arguably more difficult via text as the “content” (much like an email) can be taken out of “context.”
The other part of the texting conversation that is just as important is the compliance aspect regarding “opt-in” & “opt-out” options.
Even if the Dealer has a texting tool that is compliant with its state. It does not mean that the Sales Consultants, BDC Agents, or Service Advisors - who are using their own devices - are free from not complying with texting rules.
This, of course, is not to deter you from texting! However, there are a few key aspects of texting that are worth noting:
Compliance | Opt-In and Opt-Out
Each state has their own regulations on the opt-in/opt-out. That said, for those that do require the opt-in/opt-out compliancy your sales consultants - who are using their own devices - may not be compliant. And while a customer might not have put in a formal complaint, it is best practice to ensure that all texting is compliant regardless of which device they are using to communicate on. Using a dealer provided tool, too, offers your store the peace of mind when it comes to compliance.
Communication | Where is it at?
With texting becoming a critical aspect in customer correspondence it would be great to be aware of the “content” the customer is receiving. However, that is not possible if the consultant is not using a dealer phone and or a texting tool provided by a dealership. All of which can pose many unnecessary risks to the dealer in the future. Such as the consultant taking the data to their next dealer or formal customer complaints that you are unaware of!
The conversation regarding compliance, of course, is not meant to dissuade a Sales Consultant, Service Advisor, or BDC Agent from texting. Instead, the goal is to ensure that all texting is within a dealer owned application. Whether that is the CRM or a third party tool as there are many benefits to texting!
Think about it for a moment, if you were to have a BDC Agent, Sales Consultant, or Service Advisor text a customer - in this example, a sales consultant - a deal in which case your managers were not aware of it could set the dealer up. Wherein, if the deal the sales consultant were to have put together is 1-2k off. As s/he might not have calculated rebates correctly and the customer were to have come in expecting that deal. A deal that you were not aware. And one that could potentially lose a few thousand additional front-end gross. All of which could have been avoided had you seen the text in the CRM.
Here are some of the top ways texting can enhance the way you communicate with your customers that is not just limited to sales!
Service Status Updates
Texting is a valuable resource for many things! If during the walk-a-round - the Advisor did a proper walk-a-round they would have gathered the customer's information. In addition to asking them what the preferred method of communication is, and if they were to say “yes” you can let them know that you will be sending them a text notification regarding the status of their vehicle.
Text: Mr. Customer, this is (advisor) at (Dealership). Your (vehicle) has made its way back to the technician. They are completing your service interval as well as (enter services). I will touch base to give you an update shortly. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to text/call with any questions.
Text: Thank you! Also, I might be running a few mins late to pick up. How late are you open?
Text: Sure thing, my pleasure Mr. (customer). We are open until 6 PM.
25 minutes later
Text: Mr. Customer, the maintenance interval has been completed. The technician did, however, recommend new tires. We do have a special on them @ (price). Would you like go ahead and have us take care of that for you?
Text: Thanks! Hmm. Would it be done when I get there? And how bad are they? Is this something I can just do later?
Text: Our technicians review and grade the tire based on its condition. At this time, based on the physical inspection it is recommended for replacement. The new tires can in many cases also improve fuel economy. We will also make sure to have this completed at your arrival.
Text: Okay, let’s do it then. I might as well get it all done.
Not all texts will go like the above. However, if a customer is at work and or busy, it provides a non-evasive way of offering additional services. Almost as if you are doing them a favor.
Customer Inquiry Online
While a customer might not be able to pick up the phone when you call them - they just might be able to reply to a text message! What we want to be mindful of, though is the lead source the Internet Lead originated from! Wherein, if we get a lead from a third party and you reply with just your dealer name, the customer might not respond as they are unaware of who you are given they are converting on multiple sites.
Here is an example of a text to a customer who submitted a third party lead:
Text: Hello, (customer)! This is (name) at (dealer)! We work with (lead source). Great News! The (vehicle) is available. What time works best for you to come in for a test drive? We are located (address). I look forward to working with you. Reply Y, and I can send you a video of the (vehicle).
Text: Thanks. Does this have the navigation and leather? I am 45 mins away. Cannot come until the weekend.
Text: This does come with leather and has the sunroof. I have Saturday morning or afternoon available what time slot works best for you?
Text: Morning. Thnx. Can you send a photo of the sunroof?
Text: (insert photo). It is in pristine condition. Now to best serve you, (customer). Are you hoping to just purchase (vehicle) or trade-in? I have both a 10:15 or a 10:45 AM what time works best for you?
Text: No trade. And 10:45. See you then.
Text: Perfect. We will see you at 10:45 AM on Saturday. We are located (location). When you arrive please ask for my sales manager (name). Have a great day!
There is a phrase “less is more,” but in this case, you want to get as much - relevant - information to the customer as possible. This text does a few things: provides location, confirms availability, offers an appointment, and offers “content.” If the customer is interested in the vehicle s/he might be more inclined to receive a video!
Once you get the reply, it is essential to building that rapport by keeping it professional remembering you are still speaking with a potential client, not a friend or family member.
Here are some things to avoid when communicating with the customer:
Emoji’s, GIFS, Lol!
They sure are fun to use when communicating with friends and family, though it is best if we keep it that way. There is a way to build rapport and excitement without having to express it through Emoji & GIF. As not all customers will find it amusing or appropriate.
The other thing we want to avoid is the usage of ‘lingo,’ such as LOL, LMAO, BRB, or R U Avail? It might seem harmless. However, we have to remember this is a serious purchase. Usually the second most expensive purchase a customer makes. So we want to treat it as such. At the end of the day, this is a potential client.
Texting can be very useful. Offering us that much more opportunity to get in touch with a customer who otherwise would not answer the phone or check their email. But with this great asset comes great responsibility. And to ensure the highest level of customer service, it is best practice - for compliance depending on the state - to ensure that all texting is within a Dealer approved platform. Not only will this assist in avoiding unnecessary risk it will also provide insight as to how many appointments, sales, etc. derived from texting, itself!