Put test-drives back in the mix with geo-fencing!

As more online researchers hit dealership lots ready to buy, the industry as a whole has seen a steep decline in test drives. Many salespeople assume a customer is already sold, so they don’t insist on “feeling the wheel.” But skipping this crucial step means salespeople are missing the biggest value-add available. A test drive is the one step that will never physically take place online, and it’s a game-changer. The fact is that test drives simply sell more vehicles; that’s why forward-thinking dealers are adding geo-fencing apps to their salespersons’ mobile devices. These apps track and collect test drive data to hold salespeople accountable, enable sales managers to proactively help close more deals, and identify patterns that can lead to more sales.

Geo-fencing works by using global positioning or radio frequency identification to create a virtual barrier around a defined geographical area. A geo-fencing app allows your dealership to set up “triggers,” so when a salesperson with the app on his or her mobile device enters or exits your defined area, the trip is automatically tracked. The apps track drives in real time, as well as compile data based on routes, speed and other factors for further analysis.

There are a number of benefits to geo-fencing, the biggest being that you can track if salespeople are actually taking customers on test drives and following the required steps to complete a sale. Although our industry has changed dramatically over just the past few years, the fundamental “4-3-2-1” rule still applies. For every four guests you should have three test drives and two write-ups, which results in one sale. It’s easy to see that if your team is skipping steps, your closing ratio will go down. Geo-fencing allows your sales manager to monitor test drives and ensure salespeople aren’t skipping this crucial step.

Over time, geo-fencing can also give you a rich trove of information to help establish patterns that return the best results. For example, you may find that a certain route yields a better conversion rate, or that the amount of time spent on the drive impacts closing ratios. This information can help you determine the best plan for more sales and a better customer experience.

Geo-fencing also allows your sales manager to be more proactive in helping to close deals. This works in two ways. First, your manager sees in real time the status of every test drive. When a notification comes through that a vehicle has returned to the lot, your manager can immediately go and greet the customer and help close the deal. Second, your sales manager can easily see that a salesperson with a customer has not yet been on a test drive. With this knowledge, he or she can go and greet the customer and recommend a test drive, keeping the process moving in the right direction. Check-ins like these are critical and lead to higher closing ratios.

Another benefit is that geo-fencing can help safeguard the safety of sales staff and customers. Map overlays of vehicle routes allow your sales manager to monitor if designated directions are being followed, or if a vehicle is veering wildly off-course and a salesperson may need help. Since speed is also tracked, your manager can monitor if test drive speeds are over the limit, potentially putting customer safety at risk.

Over and over again, it’s been proven that test drives help sell more vehicles. But with more online researchers showing up ready to buy, your sales team may be skimping on this critical step. When you get them back on track using geo-fencing, you’ll see the payoff in higher closing ratios and a better customer experience.

Timm Cuzzo

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