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Sept. 25, 2006 – Taking advantage of S&W’s walk-in traffic

September 25, 2006
Filed under Features

Jasper, Ala., dealership S&W is blessed with numerous walk-in prospects, coming from local residents and drive-by traffic from the heavily traveled Highway 78, which passes in front of the dealership.
But the dealership, by its own admission, has not always taken advantage of this abundance of first-time visitors.
“We’ve been working with them, over the last few months, to fully realize this great opportunity,” said Tory Hornsby of Dealership University, one of the companies involved in a year-long effort to modernize S&W’s technology and business practices.
“There are two things we’re really stressing. First, they need to do a better job tracking traffic flow.”
Documenting the number of people coming into the store is the starting point for a benchmark measurement of performance. Based on industry numbers, 14-18 percent of all walk-in traffic can be considered a “sales opportunity” and should be entries on a traffic log. Fifty percent of those sales opportunities should be sat down with a worksheet that documents the prospect’s vehicle of interest, pricing and terms.
And, 15 percent of the traffic log entries should be converted to a sale.
So if 150 people walk into S&W, 22 to 29 of them are bonafide selling opportunities and 11 to 15 of them should result in a write up. And, three or four units should end up being sold.
Using these stats, S&W can measure how well its salespeople are doing against other dealers in the industry, and make adjustments to improve performance.
“As a starting point, I’m working with (S&W owner Jim Jr. Wilson) to install a swing counter at the main entrance,” Hornsby said. “This counter tracks all walk-in traffic volume entering the building.”
Once the counter — about $150 — is in place, S&W is being advised to follow up with a traffic log to capture the walk-in customer’s intent. The log details the customer’s name, contact information, time of arrival, vehicle of interest, sales step reached and follow-up dates.
“The second thing we’re working on is improving use of worksheets,” Hornsby said.
The worksheet process formalizes the verbal negotiations going on between a sales prospect and the sales person.
Many times, a conversation goes on where the specific model, color, availability, pricing, discounting and terms are discussed, but not documented.
Getting both parties to sit down and put everything in writing can be the first step toward higher closing ratios. And, it’s one of the best ways to ensure higher profits and reduce misunderstandings, Hornsby said.
Here’s just one example of how this helps S&W, according to Hornsby. S&W does not charge its customers for the freight and preparation of a vehicle. Add these up and S&W can show at least a $300 value that most of its competitors are charging their customers for.
If his salespeople verbally mention that these charges are waived as a matter of dealer policy, a typical customer will probably think, “that’s nice” and not give it another thought. But putting the freight and prep charges in writing, totaling the amount and then informing them of the savings, the customer realizes the extent of S&W’s policy.
“It highlights the full value and true price that (owner Jim Jr. Wilson’s) dealership gives his customers,” Hornsby said.
The process of counting traffic, using traffic logs and worksheets is being incorporated into the recently installed F& I kiosk service selling process, now provided to S&W customers. Hornsby was involved in the kioski’s initial installation, providing training for a smooth transition and ensuring this becomes part of the dealership’s selling process.
“With the F&I kiosk, Tory’s follow-up process is going to be more important than ever at S&W,” says Larry Koch, a consultant for the year-long project.
“If S&W doesn’t land first-time prospects when they walk in the door, industry numbers show they’ve got just 24 hours to follow up and close them. Otherwise, the fire goes out.” psb

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