US Test Drive Research

Across Europe and Asia, TrackBack has unrivalled intelligence showing how well dealers follow-up and convert test drive enquiries provided by their OEMs, with over 7-million leads processed for many of the world’s largest brands. We wanted to compare this performance to the USA, acknowledged as leaders in customer service across many industries, to see if any further lessons could be learned.

Our Research

We submitted a total of 150 test drive requests to dealers spread across the USA representing 15 different brands. Enquiries were submitted early during the working day to give dealers the best opportunity to respond quickly to the enquiries. In all instances, where a selection was possible, we requested a phone response as our preference to make an appointment.


US Dealers rely on email automation for speed of response

Despite our request for a phone call, the quickest responses we received in our survey were by email – with 39% of enquiries responded to within 10-minutes. Whilst this is a positive, it is not implemented consistently by dealers as 25% of our leads received no email response at all.

It should also be noted that in many cases the emails appeared to be automated responses. They typically provided some generic product information and the dealer’s contact details, and many even asked the customer to re-contact the dealership. Given that the customer has already initiated the test-drive request, it seems inefficient at best, and lazy at worst, for the dealer to not contact the customer directly to organise the test drive request. It appears that dealers still prefer to act upon phone enquiries coming into the dealership than online leads delivered from the manufacturer.

Increased response by phone, but 16% of leads still not contacted

More leads were contacted by phone than by email, with 84% of all leads receiving follow-up by the dealer. Compared to the swift response by email, there were fewer phone calls made within the first 10-minutes of the enquiry being received, but the majority (61%) of phone calls were made within the first hour. But again, there was inconsistency as a disappointing 16% of enquiries received no response at all.

Our best European Dealer network outperforms their US counterparts

The overall performance of the US dealer network is relatively strong, probably borne out of the strong customer-focus mentality that prevails throughout the United States. Indeed, the US dealers performed better than similar surveys of European and Asian dealer networks, conducted on a like-for-like basis with no automated tracking of performance (like TrackBack) in place.

However, when comparing the performance of US dealers to our TrackBack clients in Europe, it is a different story. With tracking in place, a leading European brand achieves  99% lead attempt rates, with almost 80% of these being attempted within 1-hour across a brand’s entire Dealer Network.

Speed of Responses USA EUR (with TrackBack)
Email Phone Phone
Within 1 hour 66.4% 61.1% 77.6%
Within 1 day 74.0% 73.1% 90.1%
Within 2 days 74.0% 76.5% 96.9%
All contacts 74.8% 83.9% 98.5%
No response 25.2% 16.1% 1.5%

The lessons from our US research

To make improvements, we identified two areas that we believe could improve lead follow-up for US OEMs and their dealers.

OEMs are not able to measure their Dealer’s current performance levels

Measurement is the first step to being able to manage this process. We presented the findings of our research to some US Automotive Head Offices earlier this year, and they were not entirely surprised by the results. They intuitively knew there was an issue, but they could not accurately quantify the problem themselves. Without accurate reporting, it is impossible to manage and improve this important part of the sales process. Ignoring the issue, as people make increasing numbers of enquiries for each potential sale, is not a good option.

Dealers are not maximising the sales opportunities from their leads

The lack of consistency in responding to these requests indicates that sales opportunities are being missed. Additionally, dealers seem overly reliant on automated emails to respond quickly to a lead – and these emails frequently ask the customer to call the dealer to make an appointment. Where they have a phone number to call, dealers should seize the opportunity to create maximum impact to convert leads into test-drive appointments. Previous research has indicated phone calls are at least 10-times more effective than emails at achieving conversions. Emails can too easily be ignored, especially ones which were obviously automated.

How TrackBack resolves these issues


TrackBack integrates with an OEM’s existing Lead Management System (LMS) or CRM system to track if and when dealers contact sales leads, either by phone or by email. We do this by substituting the customer’s actual contact details for trackable versions. This allows OEMs and Dealer Management to track how quickly the lead is contacted and the outcome of the activity. It also means that leads are delivered to dealers via their existing LMS/CRM, without introducing any new process or system.


Having tracked the activity, this objective measure of performance is revealed to both OEMs and dealership managers via our reporting portals. These portals also accurately highlight in realtime which leads still need contacting, bringing management focus to the sales process. And, in countries where call recordings are permitted, it is possible to review each individual call to identify best practice, issues and training needs. And just by knowing they’re being monitored, sales staff perform better. Additionally, our team of analysts can benchmark a sample of each dealer’s calls and/or emails for the quality and professionalism of the customer contact against a client’s own mystery shopping scorecard.


As illustrated above, our best-performing clients in Europe are using TrackBack to improve and maintain their performance at levels that simply would not be achieved without the monitoring and management provided by TrackBack. It allows the OEM to set incentives and targets, and identifies areas for process improvement within dealerships. These can usually be quickly implemented for rapid improvements to lead follow-up, customer satisfaction and ultimately, increased sales.

For more information

If you would like to find out more about how TrackBack helps OEMs and dealers to optimise each lead they receive and generate more sales appointments, please contact us for more information.