#4 A Non-Responsive Internet Dept

Shopping for the Right Salesperson

First in a series of two posts on a dealership interaction: Continuing our search for our next compact SUV, my wife Lisa and I recently contacted a large dealership via its website to determine if a lease price on a 2018 XYZ Limited was within our desired monthly payment range. If it came within range, we’d visit the dealership for a test drive.
I went to the dealership website to search its inventory and found a suitable XYZ Limited. Ignoring the pop-up solicitations to “chat” that kept coming up (which I personally find annoying after deleting the first one), I submitted a request for pricing using the website’s emailed form and specifically asked for a monthly lease payment on the vehicle I found. In requesting the payment, I spelled out what Lisa and I wanted: zero cap reduction, 15K miles/year, TTL out of pocket, no trade-in, and noted that our credit is perfect. I suggested a selling price of $2,000 less than MSRP; an offer that two online sites agreed-upon as a typical market transaction price for a new XYZ in our zip code. A fairly straight-forward request, right? At least I thought so.
Watching my email for a short while, my inbox soon pinged with the arrival of a response from the dealership in what I thought was a reasonable amount of time. “Favorable for the dealership,” I thought as I moved to open the email. Two clicks later, that favorable impression was as neutralized as running five miles then eating a large piece of cheesecake afterwards! An internet salesperson simply thanked me for my interest in the XYZ and asked what time I can come in. I understand the dealership wants to get customers into the showroom…but the salesperson’s email contained none of the information I requested and thus, I had no understanding of whether such a time commitment would be worthwhile on my part…or the dealership’s. There were no lease figures offered at all, and there wasn’t even an indication if the unit I had picked out was still in inventory. Yes, I had provided the VIN & stock number.
Pondering whether I should even contact the dealership again, I decided upon a course of action that would allow the internet salesperson a chance for recovery. I would email in response and indicate that something must have “happened” during the process of contacting the dealership via its website, and perhaps the request for payment information did not come through. So, I composed a brief email with that concept as its introduction, plus a re-request for a lease payment using the specs I again provided.
Forty-five minutes later, another cheerful ping indicated that a new email had arrived, and I saw it contained an attachment! Spirits lifted, I anticipated it would convey the requested information and hoped the vehicle payment would be in the ballpark I had in mind. The two-sentence email plus a table included a payment: a full cash purchase price with all the taxes and fees in detail. Then, at the very bottom was a one-line note that said the 36-mo./15K mi. lease payment would be $499 a month and cash due would be zero. I had no idea if zero “cash due” meant they rolled all the TTL and dealership fees into the monthly payment (something I did not want) or if it simply meant there would be no cap reduction. So, I finally had a monthly payment, but I had no idea how the least cap cost was structured, and I still wasn’t sure about whether a trip to the dealership would be worthwhile.
Part two of this post (Post 5) will let you know what happened next. In the meantime, here are today’s questions: In 2018, why can’t dealership personnel provide specific information customers need when asked? What elements of dealership culture keeps many of them stuck in the ‘80s in this regard? I speculate that this is generally a management approach/tactical problem: What steps need to be taken to convince managers that providing requested information helps (not hurts) the chance of a sale?

About the Author

Mark Krach is vice president at automätik, an organization dedicated to “Eradicating boring training from the face of the Earth.” He has nearly 30 years’ experience in the automotive industry—having worked for a manufacturer, a dealership, and as an automotive training writer and facilitator all over the U.S. and Europe.