We were recently (2018) contracted to conduct a thorough mystery shop campaign all over the U.S. for a major automotive manufacturer. The goal was to mystery shop a proportional number of their dealers in the country and evaluate them on several important Communication Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
- Social (DMs)
We have conducted hundreds of thousands of mystery shops of phone calls, text messages, emails, chats, social media direct messages, video and other KPIs over the last 14 years so we had extensive mystery shop templates and surveys but we decided to completely tear them down and build brand new evaluation forms for 2018.
We dissected the mystery shop evaluation and rebuilt it. It took weeks and numerous meetings with our executive team but in the end we believe we had created the most powerful and realistic mystery shop evaluation(s), especially for the 2018 prospect and their wants, wishes and expectations. We wanted to make sure that we captured the most accurate and relevant data based on both qualitative and quantitative measurements.
The purpose was to identify how their dealers responded to potential prospects and buyers across all of the major communication mediums and the results were a reality check for the OEM but not a surprise to me. What I saw in this OEM mystery shop was scary but not surprising. We see it everyday. This industry is plagued with mediocrity and inconsistency. The problem is not just at a dealer or dealer group level or even at an OEM level. The issues transcend manufacturers. It is an industry issue. The only way to fix something is first by being aware there is an issue, then and only then can you formulate a strategy on how to rectify it. But a plan is not enough, there needs to be dedication and commitment and of course execution.
I would not be able to do the analysis justice if I tried to cram all of the data into this one article. So, in the text to follow, you’ll find an overview of the mystery shop where I focused on what I felt were the most important elements to highlight and make the industry aware of.
Now, let me share with you the results of this national OEM mystery shop campaign. But to set proper expectations, I will not be able to share the complete evaluation in one article. So, I will focus on the first couple KPIs in this article. And next month, we will go through the remainder KPIs. This way you will be able to absorb the full scope of the evaluations.
- Overall, 44% of the dealers ranked higher or even to the national average (for all KPIs).
- Each dealership that was mystery shopped was done so twice on different days, at different times by different mystery shop agents to ensure that everyone was given a fair opportunity to showcase their true standings.
- 55% of the dealers ranked higher than the national average.
- Dealer performance (45% national average)
- 55% of the dealers calls scored 50%+ (highest score was 71%).
- 31% of the dealers calls scored between 27% and 40%. The majority of these calls were scored lower due to the Dealer Performance Scores (attitude, friendliness, listening, professionalism).
- The lowest scoring call of 15% was to an “uninterested” salesperson. Although the second call to this dealership (to another salesperson) was 55%.
- Almost all calls did not include value differentiation items, mention of sale or special, discuss trade-in, discuss quality, or offer to email a video.
- Almost all calls did proper identification, discussed price, and tried to answer all questions
- There was virtually no control on the calls or process. It seemed as the prospect led the vast majority of the call and the sales representatives basically reacted to the direction the prospect took the call.
- The call quality (systems) was consistent for all dealers
- The better performing dealers were able to meet the customers’ expectations and also obtain full contact information
- But even in these circumstances, expectations were not exceeded, and merely met
- Overall, there appeared to be a lack of phone call sales strategy
- National averages SUCK. If the national average is a 45% (out of 100%) on phone call evaluations and 55% of this OEM’s dealers (that were mystery shopped) Nationally scored 50%+. That isn’t cause to celebrate. It just proves that the bar is set so terribly low.
- For the most part, people were nice on the phone. They answered the phone politely. But that isn’t enough. There needs to be purpose, there needs to be a strategy.
- There wasn’t a beginning, middle and end to the call strategically speaking. The sales reps simply reacted to the prospect’s direction
- Most of the dealers asked about the car but did not try to further qualify the prospect and identify his or her wants, wishes and expectations.
- Not one of the dealerships ever tried to build any kind of value. Not one presented a value package proposition (why buy from us).
- The reason why this is so important is that price is ONLY relevant with the absence of value. If you are trying to get an internet prospect or a phone up to commit to an appointment, you MUST build VALUE. If you want to get more appointments to actually show up, then there needs to be a reason why they actually show up. Dealers need to create value and differentiate themselves from the competition.
- The average prospect visits approximately 10 dealerships or websites before they step foot into a dealership. But the average in-market buyer visits ONLY 1.2 dealerships! So, the idea is dealers must be exceptional in converting that phone or internet opportunity into an appointment and that appointment into an instore visit, and then, if they are an actual qualified buyer, the vast majority will buy a vehicle.
- Not one of the dealerships even attempted to T.O. the call to someone of high experience level.
- 66% of dealers ranked higher than the national average
Dealer performance (40% national average)
- 25% of the emails scored 50%+ (highest score was 63%). The key differences for these email responses were quickness, internet pricing and email strategy/video.
- 62% of the emails scored between 40% and 49%.
- The lowest scoring emails had response times >1 hours and almost no email content
- All emails had acceptable tech formats
- Almost all emails did not include testimonials, next steps, auto response or salesperson bio.
- With the exception of one dealer who provided a video, all the other dealers did not provide any compelling reasons to buyor a sense of urgency
- Only three emails had any pricing info
- The majority of response were within 15 minutes
- Email is one of the most common forms of communication but it is by far the least valuable. Only 6% of communication is text or the words we use. 38% is tone and inflection and 55% is visual perception and body language.
- There should be an escalation protocol… Email should ONLY sell the phone call, video communication, CoVideo, Apple Facetime, Skype, Zoom, etc… Those communications should ONLY sell the APPOINTMENT, and the appointment is used to build value, build a relationship and SPOT the vehicle.
- The vast majority of the emails were basic text email templates which probably haven’t been updated in almost a decade. Same basic message with very little escalation strategy, and very little calls to action.
- There should be a complete overhaul on email templates and CRM action plans for that matter.
- Email templates should be diversified. In addition to text templates, there should be some HTML or graphic templates but there should ABSOLUTELY be a complete LIBRARY of video email templates. video increases read open rates 300%!
I will break down the next four KPIs and give a summary assessment of the entire national mystery shop evaluation in next month’s article. However, if you have any questions about this article or if you would like to see the evaluation forms we created or have me Mystery Shop your Dealership for FREE, email me – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Sean V. Bradley, CSP
Sean V. Bradley, CSP is an entrepreneur, published author, speaker, and award-winning international trainer. He is an eight-time NADA/ATD convention speaker and a FranklinCovey Certified Facilitator. He has earned the coveted “CSP” designation in the National Speakers Association. Sean is also a member of the elite “Million Dollar Speakers Group” in the NSA, as well as a State Association Speaker and Trainer. He has spoken at over 217 NCM and NADA 20 Groups. Sean has personally trained over 25,000 automotive sales professionals in 1,100 unique roof tops.