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How to get more leads without spending more money.

There is no doubt that measuring the effectiveness of your marketing budget is a key milestone to achieving a better result for your business. A previous article has illustrated the simple steps to establishing a baseline from which to compare future performance (see the URL at the bottom of the article to review the methodology).

Sometimes though instinct is a good place to start. If you feel like your spending should provide a better result (i.e. more leads, more test drives, and more sales) then here are a few tips to help you get more leads, without spending more money.

Photo by <a href="">Miguel Orós</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>
Photo by Miguel Orós on Unsplash

Let’s start with the customer journey. Customers are acquired in three main ways;

  1. They walk into your showroom. In reality, they come or the inquiry comes in via TradeMe, your own website, the manufacturer’s website, Facebook, Instagram, or Google Ads and for the sake of clarity, we will call them New Customers. Their main characteristic is they are a new lead acquisition. There are probably multiple points of attribution that have overlapped to create their inquiry or action.

  2. Repeat existing customers. You and your team have done their job, you sold them their last car (or serviced their last car) and did it well. You’ve looked after them and built a relationship with them.

  3. Lapsed customers. These are ex-customers. They like the brand or your dealership, and the last time they changed cars you didn’t have what they wanted (or didn’t do something right), so they bought elsewhere. But their customer records are deep in your CRM somewhere, most likely with some out-of-date customer data like an old email address or an incorrect mobile number.

From these three groups, you can probably work out who would be easiest to win over to sell to again. I hope you ordered these customer groups in order of lowest acquisition cost Repeat first, then Lapsed,and lastly New customers.

Now take a long hard look at your marketing budget and tell me what percentage of spend and effort is spent on each of these three groups. I hope at this point you are questioning why your current marketing budget is split the way it is. If it really does cost 5 x as much to acquire a new customer as retain an existing customer, then most dealerships’ marketing budgets are wrong.

However, the flaws in this argument are twofold. If you want to grow your market rapidly – say you are a new dealership or a new brand (or even a new dealership with a new brand) then targeting existing customers won’t deliver the result you want. Secondly, there is an argument made that Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) should be a more useful measure than simply retention versus acquisition. Why keep low-value customers when there are higher-value customers who would be better? CLV is hard to measure and predict, which is why so few dealerships calculate it; however it that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

Photo by <a href="">Miguel Orós</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>
Photo by Miguel Orós on Unsplash

Let’s circle back to some best practices to assist with more leads, more test drives, and more sales, without spending more money. Here is the Boost Auto playbook.

  1. Do the basics really well:

    1. Make sure you have a robust lead capture system so you can review conversion rates to test drive and sale

    2. Return calls straight away.

    3. Respond to emails straight away (are you beating the benchmark of less than 10 minutes?)

  2. Create standard templates for email responses to raise the quality, speed, and consistency of your email responses.

  3. Create or use Brochure Ware to support the above. Pictures speak louder than words; videos speak more eloquently.

  4. Automate as many processes as possible to assist in a personalized and timely response to enquiries.

  5. Demand 100% lead capture in AutoPlay (and sales managers, look at trends, and then compare manufacturer and dealer marketing web form data from the numbers of leads in AutoPlay to understand how many leads are leaking from your sales funnel)

  6. Create AutoPlay lead entry champions – where the winner enters the most data, with of course high levels of accuracy and at least two forms of contact. (Quality of data trumps quantity. You can’t follow up leads with incorrect email addresses and phone numbers.)

  7. Sales Managers – insist on being CC’d on all enquiry responses – (create a rule so they don’t clog up your inbox) and then review the quality of response with your team to raise the bar in your dealership.

  8. Use the right channel to respond to enquiries – text with text, call with the call, email with email. Don’t force a customer to follow your process – follow theirs.

  9. Be mindful that your sales team might well be older and less tech-savvy than your customers. Is it time to review your IT training and set up to assist with smart, fast responses?

  10. Remember a buyer is usually part of a family. Take extra care to qualify where your lead has come from – they are likely a current or lapsed customer.

  11. Use social well - celebrate sales and collections (if customers are happy to let you do so). Aim to do it for every delivery. Better still film the covers being taken off the car. Go the extra mile for your existing and lapsed customers. This is particularly important for luxury brands, where customers are often enticed by the coolest, greatest, newest model and then cycle through the same two or three brands. On top of the above be sure to:

    1. Invite them to (non-selling) events.

    2. Create meaningful regular communications that also ask customers to check and update their data. Make it easy for them to do so. The easier it is, the more response you will get.

    3. Plan your outbound communications with care - aim for interesting and engaging content. Resist the temptation to always be selling. In fact be deliberate; try to create marketing communications that show that you care and value customers and remove 'buy now' type messaging from at least half of your communications.

  12. Know your customers (or get to know them); know their partners, kids’, and pets’ names as well as their hobbies. Use the information to be personal.

  13. Hand-pick their loan cars at service time. Call them before to find out what they would like to drive. Can you make it a treat?

  14. Send them a birthday card or Mother’s Day gift. Maybe a voucher to have their car cleaned or vacuumed, or mail out some touch-up paint.

  15. Keeping customer data clean is the role of the whole dealership; sales, service, parts, and F&I. Make sure your team knows this.

  16. Segment your database. Identity your most loyal customers and make them part of a VIP list - remember to do this with sales and service customers. Create benefits for VIPs.

  17. Comply will all data privacy laws and rules – the last thing you want is either a privacy breach or worse be unable to use the customer data you have on file.

Boost Auto is an automotive consultancy working in five main areas.

· Sales and Marketing effectiveness for brands and dealers

· Green fleet facilitation for large corporates

· Go To Market strategies for emerging brands

· Market Insights

· Business Planning and facilitation

You can contact us at


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