Focusing on Phone Calls - Some Best Practices for Car Dealers

October 22, 2013

Today's modern car dealer knows that customer relationship management is the most important priority for getting and keeping customers. Whether a phone call is your first interaction with a would-be customer or the 100th call with a loyal fan, handing every phone call perfectly is paramount. When I came across Brian Pasch's excellent article on, "Kalso Earth Shoes and Why You Need To Focus On Phone Calls" I liked what I read and wanted to respond with some best practices I've seen working for car dealers.

Phone Calls vs. Lead Form Submissions -- Not all leads are created equal.

While it is essential to essential to find out how many phone calls and web leads are generated by our ad campaigns, true ROI on advertising is revealed in an ad source's appointment set rate. Smart dealers ask, how many phone calls turned into appointments vs how many web form submissions came into the dealership?

Not all leads, phone calls, form submissions, and walk-ins hold equal value when it comes to the dealership's bottom line. A web form submission tends to be more passive as the person is usually at home comparison shopping. A phone call is more active and could imply that a person is near your dealership, shopping on their smart phone. Either way, if they picked up the phone, this is your one chance to set that appt and sell that car. How your phone agents handle that call is the key.

Make The Investment - Phone calls are the zero moment of truth.

If you're investing in any form of online paid advertising, Google Adwords, Social Media Advertising, Craigslist, there's no question that unique phone numbers will improve the results of your investment. But more importantly, smart dealers track phone calls down to the keyword level with dynamic numbers to reveal what keywords were generating calls that resulted in appointments and for which department.

At the time a shopper picks up the phone to call your dealership you're at the zero moment of truth. People's phones are becoming an extension of themselves and therefore phone calls and mobile communications will continue to grow. Every single person in your dealership answering the phones should be able to expertly handle that phone call to set the appointment. If that's not the case, make the investment in training.

Social Media Advertising -- Use phone numbers to promote conversions

Modern dealers are investing in social media advertising & PR because it's highly influential on purchase decisions & habits. A study by revealed that, “Twenty-eight percent of the buying population feels that social media greatly influences the narrowing of their brand or model consideration. Twenty-seven percent said social media greatly influences their identification of a dealership from which to purchase.”

Although we know we need it, how do we determine what is working and what is not on our social channels? Accurately determining return on these investments is crucial to fine tuning the ad spend. Accurate data on leads will arm you with the answer to the question, "should we invest in Facebook or Twitter ads?" The ROI in social media isn't difficult to determine if you deploy unique landing pages and phone numbers that tie leads to contacts in your database down to the customer level. A call tracking system that is talking to your CRM will allow you to know if your caller is a new customer or a loyal fan - helping you better understand the results of your ad spend.

Running a special in the service department? Promote a post on Facebook with your message "25% off an oil change for Facebook Fans", a big photo and a unique number and short link. Take this example:


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Facebookers can click to learn more, or call right now to set an appointment - a more convenient choice for those on smartphones - both options providing alternative ways of connecting depending on the timing for this ad for this person.

For extra credit!  Utilize your call tracking features like Whisper Text or a Custom Caller ID on that line so when the phone agent receives the call, they're aware of the exact campaign and can greet the caller with the right message. This will give the caller a more personalized experience and save your phone agent time from collecting the details about the caller's purpose.

  1. Phone rings…
  2. Agent sees "Facebook Service Special"
  3. Agent says "Thank you for calling about our Facebook oil change special, what day would you like to come in?"
  4. Caller replies "Wow, that's great, I'd like to schedule an appointment this Friday after noon."

For more best practices, download our Expert Guide to Phone Skills - a series of guides written by our staff of dealership-experienced call monitoring experts and based on millions of monitored and transcribed calls. 

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