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CAPTURE CUSTOMERS’ ATTENTION — AND BUSINESS — WITH TEXT MESSAGING

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Jason Girdner is the CEO of Tecobi

The Vinart Auto Group has three franchise dealerships in Pennsylvania and another in New Jersey. The group consists of an Acura dealership, a Honda dealership, two Hyundai dealerships and two used car locations, as well as a dedicated collision facility. Andy Wright is a second-generation dealer with more than 400 employees. The Vinart Auto Group reached $230 million revenue in 2016, and Wright was able to finish 2016 strong with help from a new way to engage with Facebook and other types of leads. He had to look no farther than the smartphone in his pocket; text messaging has proved to be a game changer for the Vinart Auto Group.

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“We had a hard time monetizing Facebook,” Wright said. “We always got clicks, but had trouble converting them into engaged leads and conversations that led to sales. When we started using Facebook Lead Generation ads, we were overwhelmed with leads. We needed an effective way to communicate with them and decided to try text messaging. Now we are enjoying a level of engagement like never before. People who click have a clear and easy path to opt in to start a text message conversation. With text messaging, the level of engagement is much greater.”

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A dealership that is able to reach a good dialogue with 30 percent of their Internet leads is doing a great job. For many, this number is unattainable even with help from trainers and gurus. “With text messaging, we are easily creating a good dialogue with 70 percent of our leads,” Wright said. “Text messaging is the next frontier. Every CRM sends lots of rapid-fire emails that are little more than just noise in the customer’s inbox. But, everyone reads their text messages right away. This improves engagement right off the bat and leads to much higher-quality interactions with the customer.”

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The Vinart Auto Group works hard to provide the best customer buying and ownership experience. All used vehicles come with a 100,000-mile warranty and the Super Club Saving Card. This card is preloaded with $2,000 in savings for customers that can be used in parts, service or towards the purchase of a vehicle. Many dealers require customers to make purchases to build up a point balance to be used at a later date. This is the most common form of retention program being used in dealerships today and many customers expect this type of program. The Vinart Auto Group Super Club Saving Card does not require any purchases — the balance is there on Day One. Vinart also has a 40-year history of supporting local athletics and sponsors the high school athletic recognition program with a local cable network.

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In December, Wright started directing radio ad listeners to a microsite that utilizes text messaging technology to engage and start meaningful conversations with customers.

“Within two weeks of starting, texting was performing well in this setting and we knew we were on to something special,” he said. “Today, text messaging is the most effective way to communicate with leads and convert them into customers on the lot. Text messaging’s tentacles will quickly spread through multiple platforms in our dealership group.”

The car shopping and buying experience changes more quickly now than in any other time in history. The days of shoppers visiting several dealerships and walking the lot to find the car they like have been replaced with online shopping and mobile-enabled comparison sites. In-person and telephone conversations have been replaced with emails and text messages. Dealers who choose to embrace new technology and lead the way will continue to benefit and enjoy an edge over those who resist. Today’s car shoppers don’t want to talk to a salesperson and spend a lot of time to get the information they are looking for. Text messaging is a quick and easy way for them to get what they want. Text messaging is also the most effective way to get car shoppers to respond. Emails often go unread and voicemails are often deleted before ever being heard. We all reach into our pockets, however, every time our smartphones chirp with a new text message.

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For a free copy of five texting tips for success, email me with the subject ‘texting’.

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