How this dealership group keeps customers coming back: Text messages

Chatterspot automates that process. It connects to a dealer management system, harvests the relevant information and emails or texts coupons and deals to the target audience.

Planet Mitsubishi has added nearly 12,000 customers who have opted in for texts in the past 12 months. On specific texting campaigns, the dealership has seen engagement rates of 70 percent. Felfel’s dealerships still use traditional methods of advertising, and he concedes that his customers might have been influenced by those collective efforts. But with Chatterspot — which can also send emails — the results are immediate.

“Yes, the customers might have been touched three, four, five different ways,” Felfel said. “But the bottom line is with this, they respond.”

In a new-car sales promotion conducted in May, the dealerships sent 451 texts that directly generated five sales and $10,000 worth of gross profits, according to Felfel. In a June buyback campaign, he sent 2,705 texts that generated $37,000 worth of gross profits, he said.

“For us, that’s a big deal,” he said. “You can cut that number in half, and I’m still a believer.”

What he further likes is the minimal attention he pays to the advertising. Felfel, 55, says he spends 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of each month planning scheduled promotions. Then he’ll augment throughout the month as needed. If the service bays are open, he’ll use that as an opportunity to seek out customers who haven’t visited the dealerships in more than a year.

“The coupon from the Sunday newspaper has been replaced with the Chatterspot text,” Felfel said.

The root of the success, he believes, is not the text of the text, per se, but the experience provided. The coupons are an online version of a scratch-off lottery ticket — recipients are enticed into taking action to see what sort of discount they’ll receive.

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