by Denny Long
I have heard a story about a dealer in the ‘60s or ‘70s who would perch on top of his dealership with high-powered binoculars recording the license plate numbers of vehicles that were shopping at his competitor’s stores. Back then in his state, you could buy a list of the license plate numbers and learn the name and address of each registered vehicle. He would then grab the phone book and call these consumers to let them know that he offers better deals, better vehicles, and better financing. This dealer became very successful and a true legend in the car business. Could you imagine doing that in today’s world?
Well, in reality, you can! And you don’t need to perch on top of your dealership or use high-powered binoculars. And it’s perfectly legal – it’s even encouraged as a benefit to consumers.

We know that all dealerships are not created equal when it comes to helping consumers with sub-prime credit. Most dealers don’t have the lenders, inventory, or knowledge to help these people. We also know that every day, sub-prime consumers walk into the wrong dealership and are told they have bad credit and cannot be helped. Many of these consumers believe that they will hear the same thing from every dealer so their search for a vehicle ends. If you are the dealer in your market that has the right stuff for these sub-prime consumers, you’re in luck. Can you imagine knowing when every sub-prime consumer in your market has their credit bureau report viewed by an auto dealer, bank, lender, or credit union for automotive financing purposes? It is possible!

It’s called a Trigger Program because when the consumer has their credit bureau pulled, it will trigger a notification that this consumer is in the market. Every morning a fresh list of these shoppers becomes available. This is the most targeted list of in-the-market consumers available and the response rates prove it. As most of you know, you are lucky to get a 1.0% response rate on a typical direct mail promotion. It’s not unusual to see response rates from a proper Trigger Program run between 5.0% and 12.0%. It takes the right program with the right processes to get response rates like this.

Many of these consumers also have listed phone numbers that are not on the National Do Not Call List. These consumers can be called by a professional call center, which means you are communicating with them the day after they shopped and were possibly told “no” to financing. When these consumers receive a call telling them, “Congratulations, you’ve been pre-qualified for automotive financing at a dealership near you,” the consumer thinks, “These idiots don’t know I was just turned down yesterday.” So many say, “Yes, I want to hear more about this offer.”

Another key is that the mail must go out every day. You can’t wait and mail these people weekly. First class postage is also a must to get the mail in their hands as quickly as possible. These are valuable prospects so the mail piece should be high-quality and high-impact.

If you use the right provider for your Trigger Program, all of this is handled for you. You just handle the leads as they come in and do what you do best – sell vehicles! A properly handled Trigger Program always delivers results. As one of my clients stated, “This is the second best lead you can get with the first being a customer that’s already in your dealership.”

So now that you know that this great program is available, it’s time for you to pull the trigger to higher sales. Good luck and good selling!

denny-longDenny Long is president of Credit Mail Experts. He has over 30 years of experience in the automotive industry and is known as the top expert in sub-prime marketing. Denny has written hundreds of helpful articles that have been published in World of Special Finance, Auto Dealer Monthly, and the BHPH Report.