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Outbound Calling Lease Retention Best Practices

Outbound calling remains an effective component in a highly efficient lease-retention campaign. Like any other targeted campaign, many customers want you to proactively call them and present personalized offers.

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Data is the most impactful variable on any outbound calling campaign. For this article, let’s use optimizing a leasing campaign as an example. For such a campaign, ask yourself the following questions:

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How far out should I begin my renewal campaign?
What is the minimum appointment set rate I should expect and be striving for?
How long should I let my campaign run before I test it?
How many are too many when it comes to revealing the percentage of bad numbers?
What percentage of “I’m not interested” should I tolerate before I halt my campaign to review the offer?
How can text messaging double my contact rates on outbound calling efforts? 

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Outbound calling remains an effective component in a highly efficient lease-retention campaign. Like any other targeted campaign, many customers want you to proactively call them and present personalized offers. Focusing on your perfect prospect equals customer satisfaction — even when the customer declines the offer.

For your dealership, this focus equates to positive lease-retention campaign ROI. Your primary cost is gaining customers and successfully managing those customers would be a series of articles in itself. Your other two variables are process and data. Let’s discuss how to optimize your outbound calling lease-retention campaigns.

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Begin your outbound campaign 20 months in advance — Start your lease-retention campaigns with a good 20 payments remaining. A solid 20-month campaign reveals that one-third of renewals occur in the first five months, with 15 to 19 payments remaining. The next third takes six months out, with nine to 14 months remaining. The final third lasts seven months, with one to eight payments remaining. This stretch emphasizes the importance of getting out in front of your lease-renewal process. Not only does this process help you renew your leases sooner, it also lowers the number of leases you have to renew with fewer than nine payments remaining.

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Don’t go it alone! — Data is the most impactful variable for any outbound calling campaign. If you want value from your DMS and CRM vendors, get them to help you with slicing your data sets. Even better, ask your ad agency for help in slicing your data. Creating effective lists is the full-time job of these agencies, so why go it alone?

Start testing 10 percent to 20 percent into each campaign. The goal is at least a 5-percent appointment set rate. At this conversion level, your dealership is serving customers and making money. If you do not have 5 percent conversion, peel back the onion to understand why. Focus on what the customer is telling you to get off the phone, also known as the call disposition. Dispositions to focus on are “wrong number,” “I’m not interested” and “no answer.”

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How many bad numbers are too many? — If you are hearing that more than 30 percent of the people you call claim the number your team dialed is wrong, you need to stop the campaign and append the data slice for mobile phone numbers. Some OEM lease lead list services are prone to pulling business numbers. Simply access your CRM and DMS records and add in mobile phone numbers

What percentage of “I’m not interested” should I tolerate before I halt my campaign to review the offer? — If you are hearing 35 percent or more “I’m not interested” responses, halt the calling and evaluate the equation of the vehicle year and equity pulled. Next, review the offer and ensure that it’s clear and consistent.

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We like to ask our outbound calling team to review the offer, mail, email and call, and then we poll them for their questions. Basically, if they have a question, we revisit the offers to see how we can make them clearer. By striving for one-question closes, you minimize inevitable questions and better serve more customers. We caution against empowering your team to tweak the messaging. As powerful as this can be to improve appointment setting, it can allow the offer to deviate from what it actually is intended to be.

How can text messaging double my contact rates on outbound calling efforts? — We disposition some calls as “reached voicemail/no answer.” We all know what is happening here because we too avoid certain calls. Sometimes we know who is calling and choose not to answer, and sometimes we don’t. For some — about 10 to 20 percent — we reply to with a text message. Outbound call campaigns speak with 20 percent of the customers they dial. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the customers who don’t answer reply with a text. The No. 1 text reply being, “Who is this?” and, on lease outbound, the No. 2 reply is, “I’ve already bought a car.”

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Today, outbound dialing and texting are one process. You can’t have a lease retention campaign without text-enabling your local dealership phone lines. This action is easy and affordable to take. You pay pennies for text messaging — pennies — so stop ignoring your text responses and start engaging them.

Now What?

Managing people, process and data is a full-time job. If, after reading this article, you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. Many times, the realization of the work involved with outbound call campaigns — which many customers really want — leads to the creation of dealer BDCs and the outsourcing of these campaigns to third-party call centers. Professional call center solutions are on the rise because they make the calls your dealership can’t or won’t make. Regardless of which method you choose to engage your customers with lease retention — direct, BDC or third-party — demand the best of your people, process and data.

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For more information, including a 20-month lease-retention mail, email and call-process map, email me at the address above.

Michael Markette

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