Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
Here at Don Graff Automotive we often implement a series of test calls to dealerships in order to assess how well they handle incoming sale’s inquires. These “mystery shopper” calls can tell us what the current aptitude of a dealership is and what problem areas we’ll need to focus upon when it comes to the consulting end of the services we provide. In a perfect world, where every dealership possessed a well-trained staff of business development center employees, each call would be handled with finesse, information, and ultimately lead to a scheduled appointment. This is, however, not often the case…
One of the most important sale’s aspects of any car dealership is to make contact with the customer as soon as they cross the threshold of the showroom. It’s the reason why there’s always a secretary or administrator seated behind a well-placed desk right inside the main doors. If you were to glance off to the side there’s no doubt a client advisor eagerly awaiting the chance for a fresh opportunity to make a deal. In the eyes of a General Manager, to not make contact with a customer and to allow them to wander unattended around the showroom floor is one of the top ten sins that can be committed within their dealership. They’re tenacious about the process, as they should be. In some cases, “Up” boards are put in place just for the singular purpose of instituting a process which insures a sales person will always be ready to attend to the next customer’s needs. With all the passion and tenacity and measures which are focused upon customers being greeted and handled the right way from the door, why is it a blind eye is always so often turned towards the phones?
Are the customers calling the dealership any less interested than those who physically visit the showroom? With the price of gas these days who can blame anyone for not wanting to take a drive if it’s only going to end in unanswered questions? Add in the fact that the internet surpassed brochures as a way of obtaining information regarding models and price a long time ago and the line between phone ups and regular ups is blurred even further. Whether a customer is picking up their phone or pulling out of their drive ways, the fact remains: they’re both interested.
I have no doubt that the sales people I mystery call perform exceptionally well when there’s a customer seated across from them. I assume that they’re able to negotiate for a hefty profit, and when the time comes, they deliver the vehicle in an informative and courteous manner so to retain a high C.S.I. score. Their ability to discard the bad habits which have formed over years of neglectful training when handling a phone call, however, is another matter entirely.
You would think the ability to record incoming calls and review them back for quality assurance would have made a greater impact upon the way phone ups are handled; through my many mystery I can assure you it hasn’t. Whether a family owned Kia dealership, or an incorporated BMW mega-group, I am still baffled by how badly some of my faux inquires are handled. Very rarely am I lead towards making an appointment. Some do not even ask for my name, number, or email. Do I not represent a sale to them? Should their ultimate goal not be to get me in the door? I often grit my teeth against the notion of breaking cover and shouting into the phone, “GET ME IN THE DOOR! YOU COULD BE SELLING ME A CAR RIGHT NOW!”
So my plea to you, Dealership Owners and General Managers, is a simple one: before you spend any more money on a new mahogany desk to adorn the immediate interior of your dealership, or on one of those rather expensive potted plants to add warmth to the threshold, spend a little of that on training your employees to properly field phone ups. We’re important too, you know, and while our wallets may be on the other side of the phone when we call, we’ll definitely be bringing them with us after an appointment is made and we visit your dealership.