Did you know that follow-up could be killing your close ratio? Find out how in this short segment with Matthew Belk, CEO of Better Car People.

Fighting a Losing Battle?

Email Marketing

So, there are two things I love in life--like really love. Music and Connecting with People.

Music is an easy one. I grew up listening to everything from Metallica to Van Morrison. From New Kids on the Block to Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock. (Now you  know how old I am)

Music has remained a constant passion, but connecting with people is getting more difficult. Mainly because we connect via email so much more than face to face.

How does that translate to how you sell cars?

Connecting with customers has become a battle of who can answer leads the fastest and whose emails are truly engaging.

The average person sends and receives over 90 emails a day to customers and clients, yet the open rate sits at about 22.08% with a click rate of 2.40%. (http://mailchimp.com/resources/research/email-marketing-benchmarks/)

If you are hitting those averages, that’s fine, but you always want to do better. There are 77.92% of potential customers who need to hear what you have to say.

So how do you increase your open rate with emails? What can you say in your message that will prompt them to respond and set an appointment?

When I spend a ton of time crafting exactly the right email, I get super frustrated when I do not receive a response. Was it the subject line? Did it not engage the customer?

Was it the message? The tone could be off, or maybe the content was just too much.

Or maybe I wrote it quickly and misspelled words and didn’t write it in a professional manner.

If you are tired of working really hard and getting less than awesome results with your emails, here are a few tips you can try that are proven to increase email opens, engagements, and responses. And some great songs to go along with them.

Things Can Only Get Better by Howard Jones

Let’s face it. Emails are sent because we are hoping to get the receiver to get back to us. They can reply to our email or give us a call, but we want engagement! That is generally the #1 result we are looking for when I hit send.

So why should a potential customer reply when I give them All. The. Information. All of it.

It is not the purpose of the email to give them the ability to make a decision if they want to buy. The purpose of the email is to get the person interested, create a reason to contact us, and then start building that relationship.

I worked with a brilliant woman who had an excellent formula for emails. You need to keep them short, simple, and to the point. She would repeat the following formula all the time: 5 sentences or less. Tell them why you’re emailing them, what you would like them to do, how to do that, and ask an engaging  question. That question is the most important part, because if you ask the wrong question, or ask it in the wrong way, you will immediately turn the customer off.

  • Stay away from questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.
  • Ask open-ended questions that will start a conversation.
  • Keep questions towards the end of the email. That will prompt action.

Who are you? The Who

When you email your buddy at dealership, you can be informal and fun. If you are emailing a GM or a Dealer Principal, your tone should be more formal and business appropriate. That does not mean you need to be stuffy and boring, but appropriate.

There is a big difference between “What’s Up!" and "Good Morning, Jim."

Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

If you send one email and get no response, don’t give up! You will see the highest response rates with the first email, but persistence is key. It may take a few connections to get together, but you will never reach the customer if you don’t keep trying.

Here’s An Example

Here’s an example of a quick email to a customer I recently sent out:

Hi Joe!

You recently reached out to me because you wanted to increase your closing percentages on your OnStar leads. I would love to get together to review your processes, how you are utilizing BetterAppointments for OnStar, and see what we can suggest to boost those numbers.

When is the best time to connect?

You can either respond to this email with a good time, call or text me at the number below, or click on the Book Now button to book an appointment on my calendar.

I look forward to connecting soon!


Five Sentences, a question, a call to action.

And this works.

Let’s Talk About It

  • Are your emails in need of some TLC? What do you need to do to make them better?
  • If your response rate is low, what can you implement today that will help raise that?

BetterCarPeople Video

With the proliferation of data and varied ways to share information, video is one of the best ways to get information to your customer and build that important initial relationship. So why are you reluctant to bring video into your daily dealership processes?

Who really likes making videos? Not all of us old folks--and by old I mean born before 1975. It feels really awkward to have a phone in my face and staring at myself as a video

I have previously talked about 3 key elements of a BDC and how to get your BDC to Develop Business. Are we moving towards innovation or keeping with what we have always done?

In a fast-paced, technologically driven world, we can no longer afford to say “This is how we have always done it.” That statement got us to where we are, but will not get us to where we are going or where we want to be.

I remember the Dewey Decimal System and Brother word processors. That doesn't mean that I think they are still the best way to gain and share information today.

Things change and change quickly. We must be innovative in our responses and connections with potential customers. Meet them where they are, take them to the next level, and give them a reason to get excited. Communicating is the most important aspect of building relationships in sales, and sending an email is generally the first way to reach out to a customer.

Stop sending vanilla, cookie-cutter responses that do not acknowledge the customer’s inquiries, interest, or request. Sending a response telling them when you will get back to them is a waste of time.

Let’s get innovative. Let’s change the way we do business. Here is one simple way to shake up your responses to grab the attention of your customer to let them know you are listening.


Breathe. Don’t panic.

This is not as hard as you think.

The younger generation (technological natives) have spent their lives in front of a camera taking selfies and posting to facebook live, snap and Instagram. For some of us “slightly older” people, it may seem a little uncomfortable. But like anything in life, the more you do it, the better you get. Get over the fact that you don’t like your voice or think you look bad on video. The customer will be happy because they are seeing you--they are meeting you in a way they would not have before. Building relationships is key to building and keeping your customers.

So, no matter what your objections, adding video to your email is going to help your business.

Here is why this is important: People Watch Videos.


That is the percentage of people who are more likely to purchase an item after viewing a video ( according to Andrew Follett--founder of Video Brewery). Adding personal videos are simple and should not be overly formal. It can be a quick welcome from the sales person to the customer or a thank you for a purchase. And it’s easy--you don't need a camera crew and a director. Just a cell phone or a good laptop.  Embed it, attach it--however works best. But say hello and introduce yourself.


The YoY growth in automotive video watch time from 2012 through 2015.(Google Research) People are searching automotive videos on YouTube more than ever. Do you have a presence that will drive local people to your dealership?

More than anything, videos change the dynamic of the e-mail. It transforms an email from printed words to a warm, personal welcome. The customer will have a visual for their point of contact, they will hear your voice, and know who to look for when they come in.

You can use the video email as an introduction, a follow-up to a call. a digital in-store visit, or as a closure after the sale. These are all great ways to reach your potential customer, connect, and begin building that relationship.

What are the best videos to make?

  • Walk arounds
  • Features
  • Test Drives

According to Google, these are the most viewed videos on YouTube. These will not take the place of test drives or people on lot, but they will give your customers more information and a sense of transparency.

Some Simple Video Tips

  • Lighting: make sure you are in a well-lit room or a room with good natural lighting. This will make the difference between a great looking video and a zombie apocalypse.
  • Promotion: Find create ways to promote your dealership. Think signage, placement, and your word tracks.
  • Speak Clearly and Know The Direction: Think about what you are going to say and be prepared. That will alleviate the desire to ramble or use filler words.

PUT THEM ON YOUTUBE! The average vehicle search includes YouTube searches, up to 14 per search. 71% of all searches are on mobile devices, and YouTube never fails in that area.


Small changes drive big results. This one small change will make you stand apart from everyone else and make you relevant. And it does not matter the age group or status--this works for the 20 something purchasing their 1st car to the 60 something purchasing his 15th. Everyone likes to know who they are talking to. So, start building those relationships and sell some more cars!



1 Comment

Dealerships and the Olympics: Are you the winner or the loser?

So I completely have Olympic fever. From the moment the opening ceremonies began to the recaps every night, I am obsessed with the level of competition, the anticipation, and the excitement that accompanies each and every event.

Who knew I would watch Badminton and actually care about it?

Not me.

While breaking down why I was enraptured with all of these events, I started to think about the similarities between the excitement of the Olympics and the excitement in a dealership. And yes, I did just compare YOUR dealership to Olympic events.

Here are three ways selling cars could be like preparing for an Olympic event:

Know your competition.

Know your competition

Do you think Phelps came to the competition not knowing Chad le Clos’s stats?

Much of the preparation for any competition is studying your opponents, knowing their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Phelps came into these Olympics knowing who he had to beat, and knowing how to finish the job.

Do you know your competition? Who are you directly battling with for leads, sales, and service customers?

Do your research. Take time to look at their website, check out their offerings, and call the dealership and hear the level of customer service they provide. If you are not as good or better, you need to step up your game!


Put in the time and effort

Simone Biles

Simone Biles is a story we have all been following. Her ridiculous ability is not just innate--she logs many hours in the gym and has made sacrifices for her goals.

How much time do you put into perfecting your craft? Sales and management may have some innate qualities (people skills, ability to converse, extroverted), but there are skills you need to perfect to not only be good at your job, but to beat out the competition.

Know your CRM inside and out. When you can manage your customer relations and messaging, you will master the art of communicating.

Do some research on highly effective salespeople. They do not evolve overnight. There are videos, courses, and books that focus on the skills needed to bring your game and your career to the next level.

Age Doesn’t Matter

2016 4x200 Swim

How many dealerships like their process and don’t want to change? Just because you are established does not mean you can’t adopt new processes and be winners.

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte are two of the older Olympian Swimmers competing, and Michael Phelps is one of the oldest to win a gold medal. Do you think he has changed his training in and out of the pool as he has matured?

You betcha.

And we need to change, too. Dealerships get comfortable doing what has always been done. As long as the money is still coming in, there is little desire to change.

But customers are changing, shopping habits are changing, and customers expect more.

It’s time to change our process, make them current and relevant, and meet our customers where they are. And that all revolves around treating our customers better than our competition.

  • Text with information instead of an email or call.
  • Send a video of their car while it's in your service lane.
  • Be as transparent as possible to gain their trust.

Let’s Talk About It:

  • Are you stuck in “Old School” ways?
  • How are you taking the time to invest in your profession? Are you learning something new everyday?
  • When was the last time you researched your competition? Get to know them.


How you handle your internet leads determine so much about your culture, your dealership, and your customer experience. Do you differentiate yourselves from the competition that surrounds you?

If you want to be a successful automotive sales professional, you need to have a plan in place concerning how you handle your internet leads, the rate in which you reach out to customers, and how you bring them into the dealership.

There is a ton of research that speaks to best practices in the dealership, how to best handle leads, processes, and how customers are shopping in the moment. Who has time to wade through all of it? So here are some facts that stood out to me:

  • The average mobile campaign significantly outpaces online in ad awareness. (Source: DynamicLogic.com)
  • Adults spend 10.1 percent of their media time on mobile, but only .9 percent of ad spends are on mobile. (Source: eMarketer.com)
  • 73 percent of smartphone users say they used the mobile web to make a purchase instead of using an app. (Source: JumpTap.com) We just had a very interesting conversation about this on Driving Sales.
  • 81 percent of smartphone users have done product research from a smartphone, and 50 percent have made a purchase via their phone. (Source: Prosper Mobile Insights)
  • 70 percent of mobile searches lead to action within one hour. (It takes a full month for the same percentage of desktop users to catch up.) (Source: MobileMarketer.com)
  • 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action. More than 50 percent lead to sales. (Source: SearchEngineLand)

And this data will change quickly. As new technologies emerge and disruptions are added, data grows, morphs, and develops into new, slightly different data. It is almost impossible to have “current” information because current is constantly evolving.

Think about how that affects the way we reach out, market, and talk to customers. It is an ever changing game and we need to either know the most recent rules or start creating some new ones.

A few points to take away from all this data:

Is your website responsive?

One major takeaway is that customers are searching your dealership and looking for information on multiple platforms. Is your website set up for a multi-device experience? If 81% of customers are doing research on their smartphone, and 70% lead to some form of action within an hour, you need to make sure you are meeting customers where they are. It is not enough to have a functional website, but you need a responsive one. One that provides the information they want without having to minimize to see the text or do the scroll of death to try and find the right margin. Your website should be completely functional on any platform with any device the customer chooses to utilize.

Are you prepared for change?

We are creatures of habit in an industry that does not embrace change as quickly as others. The problem with that is our customers ARE changing, and we need to keep up in a manner they find inviting. That means we have to have multiple modes of contact, advertising, and selling. Customers expect to have choices now, and we are more than capable of providing them. Texting, Chat, and Dealership Apps are the new kids on the block (maybe not NEW, but newer) and need to be discussed. One statistic I read today stated that texts get read in under 3 minutes. That is powerful, as long as it is not an intrusion for your customer. Dealer Apps are very cool, but you need customer buy-in. There is so much to think about that your head would spin trying to keep up.

Let me give you some peace of mind.

There are some things--some tried and true methods--that are still effective. You can add any new approach needed, but these are three static forms of contact that must happen.

  • You must email your customer
  • You must get them on the phone as soon as possible
  • You must set an appointment
  • You are already doing this, right?


You have one solid piece in place, as long as you are doing this well. With all of this innovation and change, take comfort that there are methods you already embracing. The interesting and exciting part is figuring how to weave the old with the new. How to incorporate texting or apps or geofencing with what you know needs to be done. Should you incorporate a service that immediately links you to a customer via phone when they fill out a lead?

You should not abandon prior methods, but you can enhance them and make them even more effective. So do what you are doing, but add what you can one step at a time. Master that, and then see if it works.

Because, at the end of the day, it does not matter if it is cool or cutting edge. What matters is if it helps you reach more customers and sell more cars.


2016 has been an incredibly busy year for BetterCarPeople--and especially for its CEO and Chief of Ideas, Matthew Belk.



In 2015, Matthew was selected by General Motors as a Subject Matter Expert and featured presenter at the GM Compass Tour. As a result of a successful tour, Matthew was asked again to join the 2016 Compass Tour to present about responding to online inquiries in the automotive space.

For the next two days, Matthew is in Dallas, TX followed by Houston, TX on July 18th.

The tour kicked off in Wilmington, OH on May 19th and has already had 6 stops to date. Each stop has been bigger than the last, and all have been received extremely well. The tours, which begin early in the morning and last until about 4 pm, are filled with everyone from General Managers, to Internet Directors, to Service Managers, to all levels of GM employees.

One of the main reasons the tour has been received so well is that the speakers are providing specific and tangible solutions to modern problems in the dealerships. The face of automotive has changed drastically, and will continue to change with technology, social selling, and varied forms of communication. The GM Compass Tour is providing real world solutions to relevant concerns--and the dealerships attending are giving great feedback!

Matthew Belk, alongside selected presenters, will continue to travel across America throughout the summer, ending the tour in September in Pittsburgh, PA. Check out the dates and make sure to register for the Compass Tour if you have not been already.

Remaining Dates:

July 18 | Houston, TX | Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center

July 20 – 21 | New York | Hilton Meadowlands

July 25 – 26 | Greensboro, NC | Grandover Resort

August 3 – 4 | Atlanta, GA | The Infinite Energy Center

August 9 – 10 | St. Louis, MO | St. Charles Convention Center

August 16 – 17 | Detroit, MI | Suburban Collection Showplace & Hyatt Place Hotel

August 23 – 25 | Chicago, IL | Tinley Park Convention Center & Holiday Inn

September 13 | Wilmington, DE (Baltimore) | Chase Center on the River

September 15 | Providence, RI (Boston) | Rhode Island Convention Center

September 22 | Orlando, FL | Osceola Heritage Park

September 26 – 27 | Pittsburgh, PA | DoubleTree Pittsburgh


Receives Prestigious When Work Works Award

MONROE, NC (JUNE, 1, 2016) – Better Car People has been honored with the 2016 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success.


This prestigious award, part of the national When Work Works project administered by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), recognizes employers of all sizes and types in the Carolinas and across the country.


“We are thrilled to receive this recognition for our workplace practices,” said Matthew Belk, CEO of Better Car People. “Whether it’s working from home one day a week or taking a 30-minute break to enjoy an onsite massage (free to employees), we have learned that creating a culture of excellence brings satisfaction to our employees that translates to customer satisfaction.”


The award is the result of a rigorous assessment of the workplace. Worksites must first qualify by ranking in the top 20 percent of the country based on a nationally representative sample of employers. Two-thirds of the evaluation of applicants comes from an employee survey. Applicants are evaluated on six research-based ingredients of an effective workplace: opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work/life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits, and opportunities for advancement — all factors associated with employee health, well-being, and engagement.


“These employers have excelled at creating effective workplaces yielding tremendously positive results for business success, as well as for their employees’ well-being and productivity,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of FWI. “Effective workplaces recognize that employees are an organization’s greatest resource and make a critical difference in the organization’s ability to not only survive, but to thrive.”  


“The 2016 When Work Works Award winners confirm that leading employers are continuing the movement toward effective workplace strategies that benefit both business and employees,” said Lisa Horn, director of SHRM’s workplace flexibility initiative. “These innovative strategies are what sets these organizations apart, allowing them to attract and retain top talent, giving them a competitive advantage.”


To learn more, check out this interactive map, which includes winning organizations by state: http://www.whenworkworks.org/be-effective/2016-when-work-works-award-winners-state-listing


When Work Works is a national project that shares research results on what makes an effective and flexible workplace with the business community.

For more information about the When Work Works initiative and the When Work Works Award, visit www.whenworkworks.org



Better Car People are automotive and software professionals dedicated to bringing cost-effective solutions to dealers. In just under 7 years, our team of automotive experts has shaken up the digital space in the automotive world, making our cutting edge technologies, BetterAppointments for Service and OvernightBDC for Sales, a sought after commodity. We currently answer internet leads for over 2000 sales and service departments within the U.S. and Canada.

About When Work Works

When Work Works is a national initiative, led by the partnership of the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), to help businesses of all sizes and types become more successful by transforming the way they view and adopt effective and flexible workplaces. When Work Works is one of the foremost providers of resources, rigorous research and best practices on workplace effectiveness and flexibility in the nation. The initiative administers the prestigious annual When Work Works Award, which recognizes exemplary employers for creating effective workplaces to increase business and employee success. Visit www.whenworkworks.org and follow us on Twitter @WhenWorkWorks @FWINews and @SHRMPress, and join the workflex conversation on Facebook.com/FWINews.