Sunday, August 7, 2011


They are tired of doing so much work.

After 250+ mystery shops I think I can safely speak for the group when I say that my mystery shoppers are exhausted. Their eyes hurt and their heads ache.

And all just because they try to launch buyer/seller relationships with car dealers.

If you’ve ever tried researching and selecting a new car or truck online you know that it’s not as easy as one might think. A typical outing starts with a Google search the leads you down a labyrinthine path through dozens of sites and pages. Eventually you reach a vehicle (or a retailer, or both) and are given the opportunity to type in your name and contact info with the promise of getting something of value in return. You comply; hit “Submit” or “Get Your Free Internet Price Quote” or “Make An Offer” or “Get More Information” or whatever, then sit back and wait to see what happens.

We think this is the end of the hard part. But it's not.

The first response emails that land in my eager mystery shoppers’ Inboxes can range from a few lines of painfully pecked-out plain black & white text to big, bulky HTML pages that scroll on forever and contain so much info they can’t be read on a smart phone screen.

Big or small, HTML or text; the emails are usually difficult to read, and often amateurish in appearance and execution. Rarely does my shopper get a first quality response (FQR) email that is concise, informative, attractive and professional-looking. Why is this? Why do we make our customers work so hard for the information they request?

If you are online and send a request to Home Depot, L.L. Bean, Target, Amazon, Cabela’s, J.C. Penney or any one of hundreds of other retailers the email you get in reply is likely to be clean, understandable and pleasing to the eye. Even if the item you inquired about only cost $2.99. Do the same at a car dealership and the email you get in reply is likely to be fugly – and the product you inquired about this time probably cost $29,999. Or more.

Of course, the difference here is that Home Depot, L.L. Bean, Target, Amazon, Cabela’s, and J.C. Penney are big, national retailers with big national media departments. And your dealership is just one little bitty local store. Agreed. But the thing is, in this amazing new world of Internet communications, a world in which all the word and image creation and delivery tools one could ever need are attainable somewhere for cheap to free, the hard cost to produce concise, informative and attractive FQR emails and the cost to produce amateurish and hard to read emails is exactly the same.

It’s not a money thing any longer. It's a people thing.

The future belongs to the communicators.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. "It’s not a money thing any longer. It's a people thing."

    You are right on the money here Trace. It doesn't take a lot of money to have creativity or to make it easy for someone to understand exactly what you're selling. Or how it benefits them.

    The only difficult time is when you are starting from scratch, where there is barely enough time or money or resources to do all that you want. And know that these things will work, but you can't implement them.

    I'm finding this with DealerDrop, my startup. But with your advice, i'm going to eliminate the one simple problem you found shoppers have "they are tired of doing so much work."

  3. Wow - you found my blog from 5 - 7 years ago! I forgot this was still out there. Thanks for the kind words.