DAS in Disguise: Flunking the E-mail Test

© 2002 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Spring 2002
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Page 46

DAS in Disguise

Flunking the E-mail Test

Our Undercover Mission
We wanted to see how well garage door dealers are responding to e-mail.

Our Test Method
At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 28, we sent the same e-mail message (from a Yahoo e-mail address) to 15 dealers in 14 different states from coast to coast. Disguised as "Richard Adams," we sent the message on Monday to see if people would respond that week.

Our e-mail said that we needed to purchase three garage doors for a new house being built, and we asked for their recommendation. To encourage a quick response, we said we wanted "the best doors available," noting that we wanted to "make this purchase by Feb. 8."

The Results

Of the 15 dealers, five never responded, even after a month of waiting. Of the 10 that responded, one sent an automated reply, promising to follow up later. He didn't.

Of the nine others, three speedily replied on the same day, and three replied on Tuesday. One responded on Wednesday after a two-day wait, and the other two dealers didn't reply until Thursday.

Best Practices

1. Same-day response. If a customer called your office, would you wait three days to respond? We think it's reasonable to expect a response within 24 hours.

2. Ask questions. We were impressed by the two respondents who asked about our needs, inquiring about the style of our home, color and window requirements, ceiling height, if we needed openers, etc.

3. Think links. Four dealers provided a link to the Web site of their major door supplier. This convenient option gave us a quick-click way to learn more about their products.

4. Offer an 800-number. Three urged us to call their convenient toll-free number to set up an appointment.

5. Showroom invitation. Five dealers cordially invited us to visit their showroom. This gesture told us they were professional, courteous, established dealers.

6. Follow up? Only one of our dealers sent a second e-mail after we didn't respond to his first e-mail. As they say, "Persistence pays."

Worst Practices

1. Late or no response. Failing to respond is clearly a failure. If you wait three days to respond, your competitor may have already sold them a door by then. (The dealers in these states did not respond at all: Mich., Ind., Calif., Wash., N.Y.)

2. Misspellings/Bad grammar. Even though misspellings and poor grammar are common in e-mail messages, we think business communications should be above that. Try a quick Spell Check, and re-read your response before you click Send.

3. Ugly format. Three responses came to us in long running text with no paragraph breaks. Can't an e-mail letter look as good as a professional letter?


We salute these two dealers for their excellent responses. They seemed to do everything right.

· Dan Apple, Apple Door, Richmond, Va.

· Kerry Porter, Crawford Roll-Lite Door Sales, Portland, Ore.