Direct Connect for Automotive Dealerships

Direct Connect Secret Shopper – Lead Response times for Automotive Dealerships

Direct Connect conducted a comprehensive study to measure the average lead response time for automotive dealerships across Australia and New Zealand.

The study was designed to analyse the amount of time it takes for dealerships to respond to online leads. The data set consisted of over 600 dealerships and represented 42 different automotive vehicle brands.

From speaking with hundreds of automotive industry stakeholders – which include dealer principals, sales managers, and marketing managers – the industry response standard is quoted to be approximately 1-2 hours.


The study was conducted to find out the actual time it takes for dealerships to respond to the leads that are submitted through various channels, at different times of the day.

Potential customers that submit requests to various dealerships require a swift response. Long response times can be frustrating for consumers, and they might choose to opt-out of their decision to purchase. This represents a lost opportunity for the dealership.

During the course of this study, we tracked responses across various channels, namely: phone, email, and SMS. Given its significance to relationship building, our primary interest resided in tracking phone calls to measure how responsive dealerships are to online lead opportunities.


In order to establish a benchmark for a ‘fair and reasonable’ market average, three leads were sent to each dealership. To avoid time bias, each lead was sent at a different time of the day, and at least 24 hours apart.

The leads were sent out within the following bands:

  • 1 lead was submitted in the morning business hours (9 AM – 12 PM)
  • 1 lead was submitted in the afternoon business hours (2 PM – 5 PM)
  • 1 lead was submitted after-business hours (7 PM – 8 AM)


In order to solicit a response, the leads were submitted through high-value channels online. These were the communications channels used:

  • ‘Book A Test Drive’ pages on dealer websites or their custom ‘Enquiry Forms’ on specific stock listing pages
  • Industry-leading automotive live chat provider: Drive Chat
  • Third-party aggregate websites, such as GumTree and Autotrader

For clients that did not have DriveChat and/or were not found on AutoTrader or GumTree, additional leads were sent through the dealership website so that a total of 3 leads per dealership was sent.

When the results were accumulated, over 1,800 leads had been submitted to more than 600 dealerships across Australia and New Zealand.


The study revealed a severe discrepancy in the automotive dealership market. As opposed to the industry quoted ‘1-2 hour’ response time, the actual presented a very different story.

The survey results show:

The average response time to online leads is 12hrs and 45mins (calendar hours)

The average response time to online leads is 4hrs and 42mins (business hours)

Astonishingly only 33% of leads submitted received a phone call within seven days.

This means that 67% of online leads do not receive a phone call within seven days.


In a hyper-competitive industry, it is imperative for automotive dealerships to be proactive in how leads are handled and responded to.

According to a study by Inside Sales:

50% of the customers buy from the company that responds first.

Of the 1,800 leads submitted to Australian Automotive Dealerships, only 118 leads received a response by phone within a 30-minute window.

For a dealership to be able to provide exemplary customer service, it is important to respond to customer queries immediately.


The response rate can be described as the percentage of leads that received a phone call.  Brands in the Top 10 are the ones that actually responded to submitted queries.

Here’s the complete list for the Top 10* brands, listed in order of highest response rates:

  1. HSV 66.00%
  2. Volvo 53.33%
  3. Honda 50.00%
  4. Porsche 48.48%
  5. Audi 46.67%
  6. Ford 44.83%
  7. Toyota 44.79%
  8. Mazda 42.42%
  9. BMW 41.67%
  10. Alfa Romeo 40.00%


The list of brands that featured the quickest average response time by phone call.

  1. Hino 16 minutes and 30 seconds
  2. SsangYong 1 hour and 20 minutes
  3. Fuso 1 hour and 46 minutes
  4. Nissan Infiniti 2 hours and 39 minutes
  5. Holden and HSV 5 hours and 36 minutes
  6. Audi 6 hours and 3 minutes
  7. MG 8 hours and 15 minutes
  8. Mazda 9 hours and 28 minutes
  9. Volkswagen 9 hours and 56 minutes
  10. Volvo 10 hours and 24 minutes


The lead response time was tracked and measured through phone calls, email, and SMS. Out of all the leads that were responded to, the dealerships most common method of lead response was a phone call, followed by email and SMS responses.

Some leads received contact attempts from multiple channels.

Here is a breakdown of the responses received by the communication channel:

Phone call 527

Email 427

SMS 274

Leads that did not receive any response within 7 days 427

About Direct Connect

Direct Connect is a lead conversion tool that allows dealerships to convert online leads into inbound phone calls.

When a potential customer submits an online form, Direct Connect converts the information on the form into an immediate phone call to the business.

Using a “digital whisper,” the system will read that information out to the salesperson and invite them to “press 1” to be connected to the customer.

For the potential customer, it means they no longer have to wait for an average of 12 hours and 45 minutes for the dealership to respond to their lead inquiry (if they are the one in three who receives a call at all).

With Direct Connect, the dealership can be calling the potential customer within 60 seconds to answer their questions, provide assistance, or offer them a test drive.

The impact that this has on conversion rates is significant!

Interested in more information? Contact us now!