1. Schedule the appointment on the quarter-hour
Just as you have worked to differentiate your dealership from the competition, you should also be sure the appointment stands out in a busy car shopper’s schedule. By setting the test drive for the quarter-hour (e.g., 5:15 p.m. or 5:45 p.m.), it is more likely to be remembered. Many dealers have found that nearly two-thirds of customers will keep such an appointment vs. a 45 percent chance for top- or bottom-of-the-hour appointments.

2. Give the car shopper an appointment card
While discussing a vehicle, whether on the telephone or via email, ask shoppers to print out the Internet ad they are reading. On this page, ask customers to write the appointment date and time, as well as your name and contact information. Not only will the document continue to whet their appetite for the vehicle, but it also serves as a tangible reminder of where they need to go, when they need to be there and who to ask for when they arrive. (An additional benefit: This printout helps you measure the effectiveness of your online advertising.) Now is a good time to ensure the shopper knows your dealership’s address and, if necessary, to provide directions.

3. Confirm the appointment
Immediately after the call, send the car shopper an email confirming everything you’ve discussed and a link to your dealership’s secure, online credit application. The day before the appointment, ask someone outside the sales department, preferably a receptionist or administrative assistant, to confirm the appointment. Even with the precautions you have taken up until this point, customers may fail to show. A friendly reminder either serves to jog the car shopper’s memory or creates an opportunity to reschedule for a more convenient time.