Why Independent Dealers Need an Automotive CRM

December 2, 2019| Zach Klempf

Independent dealers wear numerous hats. You’re the salesperson, accountant, detailer, customer service rep, F&I desk, and even the marketing manager.

All this juggling causes important tasks to fall through the cracks, like lead management.

Every dealership needs a systemized and repeatable sales program. Large franchise dealerships do this well. Many independent and BHPH dealers, on the other hand, could use some help. 

That’s where automotive CRMs come in. Some independent dealers think they’re too small to use a CRM. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are now automotive CRMs built specifically for independent and BHPH dealers. These tools can make a huge impact on your bottom line.

There are four key benefits for using an automotive CRM: 


  • Lead Management
  • Auto Reply to New Leads
  • Streamlined Communication
  • Lead Nurturing


Let’s look at each more closely. 


Read the Ultimate Guide to Automotive CRM from Selly Automotive


Lead Management

New leads come in from various sources: 3rd-party providers, social media, your website, and walk-ins. Many dealers simply use their email inbox– or worse, pen and paper – to track new potential customers. This causes missed opportunities and misplaced information.

Dealerships need a way to track new leads and store them in one place. This is the fundamental purpose of an automotive CRM. Whether you get two leads a day or 200, every dealership needs a lead management tool to maximize their opportunities with new customers.

The best automotive CRMs make it easy to input customer data and keep it updated. Some CRMs include mobile license scanners. Others integrate with your DMS, allowing you to avoid duplicate data entry.


Auto Reply to New Leads

In today’s internet-driven world, customers don’t contact your dealership unless they’re ready to buy. Dealerships need to act fast to take advantage of these hot leads. 

According to a Harvard Business Review study, salespeople who contacted a new lead within one hour were seven times more likely to qualify them. Salespeople who waited over 24 hours all but lost them.

But most dealers can’t just drop what they are doing to respond to a new lead. That’s where a CRM comes in handy.

Some automotive CRMs have an Auto Reply feature that allows you to reply to a new lead instantly. You can even customize the message based on the lead’s information. For example, your auto-reply message could say: 

“Hi Zach. Thanks for inquiring about the 2015 Toyota Tundra. A salesperson will give you a call soon. In the meantime, here’s more information about our financing options.”

Your local dealership market is highly competitive. The difference between winning and losing a deal could come down to who replies to a customer first. Automotive CRMs let you automate this process so you are first to respond every time.


Businessman pressing messaging type of modern icons with virtual background


Streamlined Communication

Much of the car buying journey happens before a customer steps foot on a lot. This makes communication more important than ever. CRM’s help you keep track of all customer conversations, whether they happen via call, text, or email.

Look for an automotive CRM that has these features:

Texting Platform

Texting is a great way to communicate with customers. Especially millennials and Gen Zers. Studies have found that 98% of millennials read all of their texts, but only 22% read all of their emails. Texting through your CRM keeps all communication secure. This is especially valuable when salespeople leave. You don’t want them walking out with your customer relationships. 

Using a texting platform will also keep you TCPA compliant.

Call Management

Phone calls are still the most common way we connect with customers. They are also pivotal touchpoints along the customer journey. Some automotive CRMs allow you to record each phone call for quality assurance and training purposes. In the event of a dispute, these calls also serve as the record of truth for a fast resolution.


Emails can easily get lost in the shuffle. CRMs not only keep your email organized, but connect each message to a customer’s profile. This gives you an accurate thread of communication over time 

Notes Pop from Selly

I wanted to quickly point out a feature exclusive to Selly Automotive: Notes Pop. Imagine your salesperson gets a call while on lunch. They don’t have the number saved in their phone’s address book, but if the number is in the Selly CRM, Notes Pop will display the customer’s name and deal information. Notes Pop helps your salespeople sound professional and knowledgeable on every call.


Lead Nurturing

A successful sale does not happen all at once. It is made up of numerous interactions, from the time a customer visits your website to the time they purchase their first vehicle. You need to ensure these interactions go perfectly for every customer, every time.

Lead nurturing can make a huge difference in your sales numbers. Strategic found that nurtured leads increased sales opportunities by 20% compared to non-nurtured leads. Ask yourself: What would your business look like if you increased sales by 20%?

CRMs systemize the relationship-building activities we all know are so important. It makes your salespeople’s lives easier and creates a consistent experience for your customers.

For example, you can create a task that automatically reminds salespeople to follow up with a lead if they don’t respond after two days. After a lead leaves your dealership, the salesperson will get another reminder to send a text message thanking them for their time.

But nurturing leads should not stop once you make a sale. Post-sale lead nurturing is just as important as pre-sale. For example, you can schedule follow-ups to check in with customers a day, week, and month after their purchase.

Existing customers are far more likely than new leads to buy from you again. Post-sale lead nurturing turns one-time buyers into lifelong customers. This level of organization in your sales program is only possible with an automotive CRM.

Businessman shaking a customer hand at new car showroom-1


Getting Started with Your Automotive CRM

If you’re ready to start growing your dealership, using a CRM is a critical step in the right direction. An automotive CRM will help you and your sales team wow customers with fast service and thoughtful follow-ups. It will keep your customer data organized and your salespeople compliant. Most importantly, it will drastically improve your sales.

Every dealership will benefit from using a CRM, but not every CRM is built for every dealership. Most CRMs are built for large franchise dealerships. Independent and BHPH dealerships have unique needs, so it’s important to find a CRM built for you.

About Selly Automotive:

If you’re interested in learning more about Selly, a CRM built for independent dealerships, learn more here and don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s time to take control of your sales program, and we are here to help.


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