Your dealership has a great Web site. You've put all of the information the customer wants online. You're advertising your site and you signed up with several lead generators.

In fact, you have so many leads from your web site, you having trouble managing them all. So what do you do?

Paul Rogers, senior training manager for the Cobalt Group and one of the trainers for Cobalt's eDealer Academy, offers some suggestions.

Prioritize those leads

Mr. Rogers developed the e-retailing LIFO principle — Last In, First Out. Respond first to those leads that have come in last — you have more chance at converting those leads into sales.

Respond to new-car buyers first, then used-car buyers. Research shows new-car buyers are more ready to purchase that vehicle.

Respond to those leads first who are closer to your dealership.

Respond to those leads that have provided phone numbers. “It gives you another way to contact that person, and more contact increases the chance for a sale.”

Be online when most of the leads come in

Typically, customers are online 7 - 9 a.m., 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., and right after the dinner hour — about 7 p.m.

Use technology infrastructure such as pagers and automatic responders during non-business hours. But Mr. Rogers also suggests, “Find employees who are willing to have a pager. Some employees love the responsibility of having to respond to a lead at 10:30 on a Saturday night.”

Build templates for personalized e-mails

“Don't reinvent the wheel every time a lead comes in,” says Mr. Rogers. Have templates that respond to specific questions. These can be personalized quickly, by adding the person's name and a signature. “It should take five seconds to fire off a personalized e-mail response,” he says.

Speed is crucial

“All of the research shows that response time drives closing ratios,” says Mr. Rogers.

Ideally, dealerships should strive for response times of less than one hour.

But that may not be good enough anymore, he warns. New research reveals 20 minute or less response times are crucial on both the East and West coasts. If you want to increase your closing ratios on those leads, decrease your response times.