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Simple Methods to Increasing Appointments

According to most experts and sources, you will set appointments with 50% of your leads, 50% of those appointments will show, and you will deliver a vehicle to 50% of those that show for their appointment. Given that, if you start with 100 leads, you will set 50 appointments, 25 of those will show, and you will deliver 12.5 vehicles. If you raise the appointments set by 10% to a 60% ratio, 50% or 30 show, and you sell 50% or 15 vehicles, you go from 12.5 to 15 vehicles delivered or an increase of 20%. These simple methods to increasing appointments can help you accomplish this 10% jump, however? It is easier than you might think.

You should first make a list of the questions most frequently asked by your customers during the appointment setting process. Next, you need to prepare answers that are effective at overcoming the objection. When answering the question, state that you understand their question. Then you should let the customer know that they are not alone in asking that exact question to make them feel comfortable. Now, answer the question and again try to set the appointment. Here’s an example:

Question: What will my interest rate be?

  • Bad Answer: Well, your credit is not so good, so you will probably pay around 22%.
  • Good Answer: That is a question I hear a lot. I understand your concern about interest rates, like most of our other customers. As you probably know, interest rates vary between new cars and used cars. Our Finance Managers are the best in the industry at finding the lowest interest rates possible for each of our customers. We also have a special computer program that will match each customer with the best finance source to achieve the lowest rate available. You will not find this combination of systems at most dealerships, only here at Johnson Ford. You are going to love the way this system works. Can you come in this evening or would tomorrow morning be better?

Are your people using good answers or bad answers? As you can see, with the good answer we have overcome the objection and most likely caused the customer to get excited that they contacted the right dealership that has a system to find the best interest rate. There’s a good chance this customer accepted the appointment and came into the dealership. If they come into the store, there’s at least a 50% chance of making the sale. If they do not come to the store, the chance of a sale is zero.

  • Here is a short list of other questions you may want to add to your list:
  • How much will I need as a down payment?
  • What will my monthly payment be?
  • I do not want to drive that far to buy a vehicle.
  • Will I need a co-signer?
  • I want to refinance my current vehicle.
  • I cannot come in this week.

That should get you started with your own list of questions. Once you have all of the answers prepared, make sure that everyone involved in the appointment setting process can respond to each question without hesitation. The best way to do that is by role playing.

By the way, if you really get good at overcoming objections you may also increase your appointment-to-show ratio. If you increase your lead-to-appointment ratio by 10% and your appointment-to-show ratio by 10%, you will increase sales by 44%. That is not an increase to scoff at!

Working the Lead: Days 1 through 120

You pay good money for the leads you purchase. It does not matter if they come from direct mail, the Internet, television, radio, newspaper, or any other source. Unfortunately, most of the leads many dealerships receive get worked once and then tossed in a pile, never to be touched again, whether it is just one lead or 100 leads .I hope this is not the case at your store, but if it is, you need to read on.

This process is the one taken by David Basha, the owner of Carriage Nissan and Carriage Mitsubishi in Gainesville, GA. It is the most comprehensive and thorough working of leads I have found after 20 years in the industry.

Day 1 – The lead is sent directly to the appointment setter, either a salesman or the BDC. They immediately call the prospect to make the first attempt at setting an in-store appointment. We all know that you do not get through to 100% of the leads on the first attempt. The lead does not go into the “dead” file until personal contact is made and disposition (interested or not interested) can be made.

Knowing that hot leads must be contacted immediately, his team sends the first letter the same day. This letter acknowledges the prospect’s information has been received and this dealership seriously wants their business. It covers the basics of financing options and inventory selection.

Day 7 – If an in-store appointment has not been set and kept, letter #2 is sent out. This letter covers the reasons the dealership and the prospect may not have been able to get together yet and offers new and compelling reasons to call for an appointment today.

Day 14 – Most dealerships have long forgotten about this lead by now, and most prospects have started shopping elsewhere. But not David, because he and his team are just getting started working these leads. It is time for letter #3, which reminds the prospect that Carriage wants their business and even has a special gift waiting for them at the dealership. Not relying on just a gift, the letter also reminds the prospect why Carriage is the right dealership to help with their credit situation.

Day 30 – Letter #4 goes out on this day with an urgent message that now is the time to make that purchase. Special financing options and new inventory selection are discussed.

Day 60 – It is time for letter #5 to hit the mail. This letter offers a free oil change while the prospect is weighing the opportunity to explore options for replacing that vehicle.

Day 90 – You guessed it; it is time for letter #6. Fear of rejection is the main reason why people ignore offers of help for this long. In this letter, the dealership explains how easy the credit interview appointment is in an attempt to remove that fear.

Day 120 – Letter #7 offers the prospect automotive financing and the opportunity to get a nationally accepted credit card. The dealership again stresses that they want the prospect’s business and are willing to work for it.

Now that is how to work every lead to the fullest extent! At the end of each month, they take one more shot at the leads that they weren’t able to reach. In one month, that stack included 180 leads. From that she was able to set 20 additional appointments. If half of those 20 people keep their appointment and Carriage can deliver vehicles to half of those that keep their appointment, they will deliver 5 additional cars.

It’s time to stop allowing your leads to become orphans. Go for it and make more money.

Please contact us at or visit us at if you would like free copies of the letters mentioned in this article

5 Ways to Improve your Subprime Vehicle Sales

There is no doubt that subprime financing is not the easiest department to run at your dealership. Getting the right customers by buying subprime leads and using subprime marketing is a great way to find the right customers , but that’s not all.There is also no doubt that it can be the most profitable department at the dealership. Without all the right pieces, however, you will never maximize the potential of this part of the industry.

However, what are the right pieces ?


There is a huge opportunity to make lots of money in subprime sales, but you will never find out how close you can go to the edge without training for your entire staff. There are national, regional, and local events that can be a great help. Your lenders and vendors may also offer special training to maximize the use of their products. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn.


It is very important to have the right combination of lenders for the prospects in your area. It seems like no two lenders today buy the same customer, especially when you are working below the 550 level. Some lenders even have their own scoring system, which can be a huge benefit. They may buy someone with a score of 460 based on the person’s job longevity, the length of residency at the same address, or if the person has shown improvement in the way he conducts his financial affairs. For example, lower score customers could be financed at companies such as Credit Acceptance, UACC or Westlake Financial and Bankruptcy customers at Prestige Financial or AFS.


The right inventory can vary greatly based on the economic conditions in your area. Over a 30-day period, keep track of the number of sales lost due to not having the right vehicle. If you lost more than a few deals, it is time to make some inventory changes. Remember, gross profit is seldom determined by the selling price. In many cases, it is just as easy to make a $3,000 gross on a $7,000 vehicle as it is with a $12,000 vehicle.

Appointment Setting

This very well may be the weakest link in many stores. It also may be the most important step in the entire process. The person or persons setting your appointments should be trained to work with all types of individuals at every level of credit. You should consider a compensation package that rewards them not only for appointments set, but also vehicles sold. If you do not have the right people inside the dealership to do this, you should hire a professional company that specializes in appointment setting.

Subprime Marketing

Although this is the first step to selling a vehicle to a new prospect, this is last on the list, since your ability to perform in the other areas discussed should dictate who you target for your marketing. It is very important to go after the right target audience. Trigger Mail also called Active Shoppers, Bankruptcy and Data Based response marketing are some of the ways to get that customers that need the extra ” push”.,Targeting those with lower credit scores will achieve a higher response rate, but also a lower delivery ratio due to the amount of applications you are unable to bank in this group. Subprime marketing requires some time to develop The bottom line: don’t waste your money going too high or too low. Find your “sweet spot” and work that group hard.

Marketing To The BHPH Customer

In today’s world, there is a fine line between marketing for a Special Finance department and a Buy-Here, Pay-Here (BHPH) operation. As a matter of fact, it is really an overlapping line. The number of banks that will buy subprime paper today has greatly increased over the last two years. This increases the competition for the BHPH operations. To be successful, you need to market smarter, and that means marketing to your best targets. Let’s look at a few target audiences and the opportunities for both Special Finance and BHPH.

Bankruptcies – The number of households in this country that have experienced a bankruptcy is growing rapidly.

At one time, this was the favorite target audience for Special Finance departments and BHPH operations. If you run a Special Finance department, you are missing the boat if you aren’t targeting this group. There are a number of good finance sources that will still buy this paper, and you have a better chance to get a response from this audience since you’ve lost most of your competitors. If you have a BHPH operation, you too can take advantage of the lower number of dealers going after this audience. For either group, it’s still a small investment that typically pays off.

Low Credit Score Vehicle Shoppers – Yes, there are still plenty of people out there that want to buy a vehicle.

These people were being turned down by banks at a higher rate than in the past, but that’s changing. Increased competition means smart marketers are turning to programs like Trigger Leads. Who better to target than an individual with a low credit score that was shopping yesterday, but might have been turned away? They still want a vehicle, but their assumption is that all dealers are created equal, so if one dealer could not get them approved for financing, it is likely that no dealer can help. Now, we know better than that, don’t we?

The fact that someone had their credit bureau report pulled within a score range you desire will “trigger” an offer of credit to be mailed on your behalf. If you’re in Special Finance and know the score ranges of individuals you can help that it is likely that your competitors can’t (say 550 to 630), then you should target this group. For BHPH, we all know that anyone shopping with a score below 550 should be shopping at your store. The big question is: does the consumer with a score below 550 know that they should be shopping at your store? Well, it’s your duty to let them know.

Depending on your local Special Finance competition (or lack of competition), you may want to consider targeting the group all the way up to a 600 score. The response rate for this type of program is typically 5 to 10 times average, so the return on investment can be the best of any marketing program. The fact that this type of marketing is possible may be the best-kept secret in the industry. The secret’s out, so take advantage of this great opportunity.

470 to 550 Credit Score Active Shoppers - One Dealers Mistake Could Be Your Next Sale

Many times customers go to dealers because they need reliable transportation just to get to work or simply to get their kids to school or a doctors appointment. They go the a big dealership and look for cars. They find the perfect car just to be embarrassed in the finance office when they are told their credit is bad ans NO bank will ever give them a loan.

In fact, many times they are told that no dealership will every give them a loan and they should just wait a few years until their credit improves.

Imagine the excitement they would have when the get an offer from your dealer.

That’s just a small snapshot of the great marketing opportunities for the Special Finance department and the BHPH operation. Either way, the water is fine, so jump on in. Those that target these markets right now will be the big winners of the race to higher profits. Good Luck and Good Selling!

Denny Long | President and Head Credit Mail Expert.

Former lead writer for Special Finance Magazine for 15 years, he has watched the subprime market blossom and took note, He is one of the most recognized automotive marketing experts in the country