Trick or Treat?

It is that time of the year again, when we deck our halls and yards with scary visages and apparitions! Not that anyone is really scared, but it is the thought that counts.  Any remote connection to All Hallows Eve, from which Halloween is allegedly derived, has been lost in translation and current custom.

Let me tell you what is really scary these days! Scary is wading through the multitude of products, currently on the market, to help you generate traffic in your store.

Which type is best?

Which is most cost effective?

Which type provides the best lead-to-appointment ratio?

Should we go IVR, Internet Leads, Trigger Leads, Direct Mail, Print Media or Radio/TV

Bankruptcy Mail Programs

The answer that makes the most sense is “all of them!”

Now, several of you are sitting looking at your monitor, chuckling and saying, “This guy has really lost it this time.”  Must be Candy Corn overload!

Let me take a couple minutes and either explain what I mean or convince you further that your assessment of my mental condition is correct.

Normally, we spend our Lead Generation budget based on our answers to the above questions.  And while that may seem to make sense, let me pass along my theory on the issue.

Do all of your customers purchase vehicles for the same identical reasons?

Do all of your customers respond to identical advertising?

I am assuming that your answers were negative.  Then it should stand to reason that all these choices we laid out above would produce different types of buyers.  Which ones do you not want to sell to?  Again, I am going to assume that your answer is, “I would like the opportunity to sell to all of them!”

Then, instead of trying to decide “which” type of lead generation we are going to use, we ought to be trying to decide how to apportion our lead generation budget.   First we need to determine what our budget will be.  In my humble opinion, the budget for advertising (branding) and lead generation should be no less than 10% of your sales goals for the period in question. In other words, if you want to earn $150,000 in gross profit, your ad/lead budgets should be no less than $15,000.

Start the process by deciding which type of business you do not want in your mix.  For instance, if you do not have the lenders necessary to place discharged bankrupts, then eliminate that type of lead from your mix.

Here is how I see the various options available.

IVR systems are inexpensive and allow you to mine leads from your Branding advertising.  This makes these leads close to free.  Spend 2-3% of your budget on IVR.

Trigger leads have one thing particular in their favor.  These prospects are all actively in the market for a vehicle and the leads are, by their very nature, current.  For instance, VOISYS Triggers reach you less than 30 hours old. The leads are inexpensive, but require a lot of work to convert into an appointment.  You can work them in house, or use a good Trigger Mail program.  Allocate 8-10% of your budget for Trigger-type leads.

Internet Leads have gotten reviews all over the map, depending on the writer.  A good, scored, verified Internet Lead is a solid source of prospects, especially for Special Finance Programs.  You should be spending 25-30% of your lead budget on some sort of Internet Lead.

Direct Mail, done properly, should keep your pipeline filled with valid prospects.  These prospects have received direct mail from you and have replied positively.  Your only job is to get them into the store and sell them.  Direct Mail works uniquely well for people who have filed and/or been discharged from Bankruptcy.  Spend 30-35% of your budget on this type of lead generation.

The rest of your budget can be spent on various media such as Menus, bulletins, event ticket sponsorship and other local exposure.

What you have done, is you have balanced your lead generation buys to cover the best mix of prospects.  This will keep the pipeline filled with prospective buyers and give your staff plenty of leads to work with.  It makes things much less scary and will all but guarantee that you will consistently make your sales goals.

Just my two cents worth.


About the author
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960.  Dick is National Sales Director for VOISYS.  He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog.  Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.