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The Rules to Texting Your Customers

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A text-message to your customer may seem like a quick way to communicate, but it can create legal issues when compliance isn't factored in before the message is sent. Before you press send, think about a few factors: has your customer consented, what is the goal of the message, and will it be delivered at an appropriate time. 

Matt Cagle, vice president of operations at CompliancePoint notes that even though a shop may have customers phone numbers, it doesn't mean the customer should receive a text-message.

"There's a misconception that when they send out a notice that it's time for your oil change or its time for your 75,000 mile tune-up that they're taking care of the customer, which they are, we're not going to argue that," Cagle says. "But, it's been proven in court that those are solicitous—the dealer [or repair shop] has a financial incentive to get you back for the maintenance—and so if you're doing something on texting geared to the audience, I think it's important for them to note that any program that leads to someone coming into the dealership [or repair shop] for service needs to be treated as a sales program from a compliant standpoint."

In order to following compliance regulations, Cagle suggests that shop get written or recorded consent from the customer regarding text-messages, give customers the opportunity to opt-out of text-message services, and reach the customer during appropriate times of the day.

"There are restrictions around when you can send [text messages]," Cagle says. "We do recommend setting an expectation [for the customer] of the sheer volume expected to receive per month and per week, and be smart about it: don't abuse the consent and blast them with messages constantly."

"What they do need to do is be aware of the customers time-zone or location, in most cases I would assume these folks are located geographically close to the dealer [or repair shop], but they need to make sure they're not sending them too early in the morning, or too late at night."

According to Cagle, the rules at the federal level prohibit text-messages from arriving before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. 

"There are state laws that can be more restrictive," Cagle says. 

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