Marine dealers urged to respond quicker

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Dealers have a 20 percent conversion rate on leads that get a response within two hours, Bob McCann told attendees at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, so why then is the industry's average response time 23.91 hours?

"The Internet doesn't sell boats, the good dealers do," McCann said. "The Internet is serving us up opportunities."

However, if not used correctly, the Internet - especially a dealer's Web site - could be a liability.

McCann said 129 dealers at the conference were "mystery shopped" by being sent an e-mail lead. He heard back from 77 percent - or 99 dealers.

Of those, 60 percent responded with an e-mail, 40 percent with a phone call and 23 percent with both.

However, the average response time was 25.86 hours for this group of dealers.

Of 1,347 dealers industry-wide who have been "mystery shopped," 56 percent responded. Of those, 43 percent responded through e-mail, 26 percent through a phone call and 13 percent through both.

McCann suggested dealers respond with an e-mail and follow up with a phone call. That phone call, he said, should be used to set up a face-to-face meeting.

E-mails, he said, need to contain a dealer's logo on top of the e-mail; a subject line that gives the dealer's name, as well as the brand name; an answer to any questions the potential customer may have asked in their initial inquiry and it should set the stage for a phone call. Dealers may also want to attach photos and include any sales programs that may interest the potential customer.

A template that can be easily personalized is a good idea to keep on hand, McCann said.

Following his presentation, McCann awarded sales people from the following dealerships Pride awards for their lead responses: Bohner Lacefield Marine, Lake Union Sea Ray, Lynnhaven Marine, Dockside Marine and Seattle Boats.

— Beth Rosenberg

b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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