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  • Buying Calls Online – I Should Be Shot!

    Posted by Bobby Likis on August 24, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I should be shot!  First, let me say that re new marketing initiatives, I’m always committed long enough to allow our service team and I to capture adequate data to judge its value.  In this case I should “BE” committed. 

    My Team and I began this agreement May 2016 and closed it July 2016.  We gave the program the month of May and most of June before we really started a full scale audit.  It was then that we became aware just how bad the results were.  After personally taking two weeks of calls, I was stupefied with the low quality (quality is not the word I have in mind but that’s what I will type…) and the total waste of cash invested into what was nothing more than individuals calling some toll free number asking questions (sold to me as car repair questions) that were in essence analogous to “how hot is the sun’s surface and how much does it cost to drive my car to Chicago?”  Really?  Really! 

    Our audit was very time consuming to say the least as each call had to be downloaded and reviewed real time.  We quickly learned the calls received were not from people who would be our customer…nor any other quality shop that I know of.  But it was only after we dove more deeply into the terms of the agreement that we learned we could not download older calls (May & mid-June) – our bad for not fully reading all details of the “terms” located at the bottom of the web page.  The selling company did agree that some calls did not fit the intended purpose and agreed to credit our account.  I am still waiting for these credits.  They did warn us early on that we had exceeded the credit-point they normally place on accounts…$300 per month although they still billed us $375 that first month.  So we also placed our own limit of $300 on each month’s volume of calls.  Suffice it to say that after my 45 years in the service arena operating my own business, I should have known better…sooner.  So, you might ask why I think “I should be shot?”  That’s because this makes the third time in the past 8 or so years or so that we tried this type promotion.  Three different company names (curious to know if there were three different companies) offering the same or similar methods of attracting new customers with results much the same. 

    We actually managed to get the first company to change their business methodology when we also recorded calls and called back to check the validity of the caller (star 69 gets you the last caller’s number) so they modified their operations after I spoke directly with their president.  But soon after they raised our rate from a monthly fee of $40 to $212 with zero warning or notice.  They told me it was because we were received too many calls for the money we were paying?  I forget the other company…similar experience.  That’s my story.  I do have many calls saved if anyone of you would like to hear.  I did not mention the name of this company here…just yet.  If you have had such an experience or simply want additional information re the above…feel free to reach out to me. 

    Makes me wonder just how much it cost to drive to Chicago…without knowing the starting point.  Now where did I put my crystal ball. 

    Bobby Likis replied 6 years, 7 months ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • mpb

    August 27, 2016 at 12:21 am

    I won’t say you should be committed.  In the effort to get more sales we all try different things.

    I do digital marketing for a living and kind of curious what the base rate per call was for you? 

    You seem to know your numbers so you should know what your close rate percentage is for calls.  Let’s say 20% so 1 in 5.

    from there you can work out your life time value and your 6 month value per customer.  I normally build service based campaigns to break even or be slightly ahead at the 6 month mark which for auto companies normally mean just 1 visit and maybe… an oil change or a second veichle taken in.

    What I’m getting at here is you could probably easily afford to pay $10 for a qualified lead that would yield you a sale every $50 dollars spent.  You can get this all day long doing Call only campaigns inside AdWords or a mix of call only and regular search ads that are bid adjusted for mobile devices.

    While you should of caught the issue sooner as you mentioned, we all have to take our lumps.  Your established and a pro so you can luckily afford to take them every once in a while.

  • Bobby Likis

    August 31, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Thx, Jacob,

    We paid $15/call with almost zero return.  We did get one job ($1,200) over the 3-mth period…nowhere near what this marketing plan touted.  And during our extended back & forth discussions with this company’s agents in our attempt to capture older calls (we were told they were deleted after 35 days), we talked with at least 4 different people…none of whom were authorized to make any value added decisions.  No more “Local” for me…never again! 

  • Bobby Likis

    August 31, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    The company that I was referring to in my above comments is AutoRepair Local.  Questions?  Reach out to me anytime. 

  • larrybloodworth

    August 31, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Dear rlikis,

    I can’t say about general repair, but for our transmission specialty repair shop, Google Adwords and MSAdvertising (Bing & Yahoo!) give us a lot of bang for the buck.  I manage both for our shop and I have total control of the accounts.
    We geo-target our PPC (Pay-Per-Click) to a 5-mile radius around our shop.  I know what keywords are hot and which ones are click-burners from 9 years’ experience.  We pay about $12/click and currently, phone calls are costing us about $35/call for a highly qualified person who will set an appointment over the phone.  The vast majority of the callers who set the appointment and show up, convert into transmission or drivetrain-related work.  Great deal, if you ask me.
    PPC without call tracking is pointless.  Call tracking is how you not only count calls, but how you put caller metrics and service manager metrics into play.  While call tracking is widely available from many companies, hire a company that uses Conversation Analytics, like Convirza.com.
    My advice is to NEVER trust somebody else to do your online advertising and then charge you for calls.  Nobody is going to mind the “PPC Store” like a shop owner will.  Ask me how I know.
    J. Larry Bloodworth, CMAT
    West Valley City, Utah 84119
  • Bobby Likis

    September 1, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Thx, Larry, Appreciate your input.