Best PracticesDealership Communication Tools

Dealerships Ignore More Than a Third of Their Customers

The Most Important Phone Call


I have got great news for all of the GMs, GSMs, Internet Managers, Corporate Marketers, and even all of those vendor partners out there serving the dealership. Did you know that 39% of the valuable phone leads that you drove to the dealership were left stranded on the phone?

Isn’t that great!!

Doesn’t it pump you up to know that more than 1/3 of all the hard fought, expensive phone leads you actually get to convert to a phone call are left hanging on the phone?

Our trained Humanatic call reviewers listened to almost 2M inbound sales calls (1,956,624 to be exact) over the past two months from 346 dealerships and tried to answer one very simple question:

Did the caller get to speak to a qualified person who could help them?

The study spanned dealerships across the country from several different dealer groups and independents. There were large dealerships and small dealerships included, and the result was consistently the same. Once the shopper takes the initiative to pick up the phone and convert, dealerships do a poor job of connecting these shoppers to someone who can help them. The biggest contributor to the 39% was callers asking for a specific employee and not being reconnected if that employee not available. News Flash People!!! – the requested employee is almost never available!

Believe it or not, this is actually really good news for a couple of different reasons. Let me explain.

You are driving calls!

The fact that you have calls that can be stranded is tangible evidence that your marketing efforts are working. In all but pure eCommerce, a call conversion is the most valuable conversion out there. In fact, according to an ATG/Oracle survey 67% of online shoppers will call for any purchase greater than $100. In a car deal where the number is 50 to 500 times that dollar figure, you can assume that number goes up to over 90%.

If your sales lines are ringing then you have inventory that people want to buy and perhaps even more importantly, a marketing approach and messaging strategy that displays your inventory in a way that people are responding to. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back for creating the calls that were stranded. But really think about what that number means. If your dealership is moving 200 units a month, just think about all of the opportunities that you are leaving on the table. Whatever your top line revenue was last month, think about what it might have been if this number was 91% instead of 61%.

This is a problem that is incredibly easy to fix!

This is only a problem because you couldn’t see it before now. You can’t fix something you can’t see. With our new answer the phone pod (below) you can see in real time what your staff is doing with those valuable leads. It’s simple; you want all green arrows up at the top. Whether you start at 52% or 82%, you want to see improvement week to week from your staff. We’ll also let you see how you are doing against your competition.

The report below is a Toyota dealership, so they can look at how they fare week to week, month to month against other dealerships using Dealersocket CRM, other Toyota Dealerships, or other dealerships within their own group. That is a feedback loop that drives improvement. People change their behavior when this is posted on the message board every day. People start craving green arrows. Green arrows = increased revenues.

Answer the Phone - PLEASE
Answer the Phone! – PLEASE

With all of the complex tracking and analytics tools available today, don’t lose site of the basics! The best way to improve your business is to improve the way that you handle phone leads. This begins with getting that valuable phone up connected with someone who can help them as quickly as humanly possible.

Our Answer the Phone! report will show you your success rate for connecting your leads in real time.

Step 1 – answer the phone. There isn’t anything much more important than that, but step 2 is close.
Step 2 – get them connected to someone who can help them ASAP. A pick up time of 3 seconds looks good until you realize that the call was answered by the receptionist and then got bounced around the dealership before being connected to the right person at the 2 minute mark. That’s not good.

Our reviewers listen to the call and mark the True Connection Time when that caller is connected to a qualified agent. This needs to be less than 20 seconds. Anything over 20 seconds and you start to risk a shift in the caller’s mood. From “I’m excited about a potential purchase!” to “I hate this hold music.” This is not a shift you want. Challenge your team to post green arrows on true connection time. People want to spend money with you, make it as easy as possible for them.

Once you figure out how to answer the phone, you can move on to the next challenge.

Did you know that out of the 61% of calls that did get to talk to someone who could help them, only 6% of the calls included an attempt to set an appointment? I bet that is some information you would like to know.


What are you doing to make sure that you convert those phone leads that you fight so hard for and spend so much on?

Are you investing in call tracking products to give you visibility into the sometimes scary reality at your store?

What happens at your store when someone calls and asks for Steve, but Steve isn’t there?

It’s the second Tuesday in September and the phone rings at your dealership. Are you confident that you know what happens next?


*Note – Our reviewers also listened to 6,104,017 outbound calls. I think you might be surprised to learn what happens when you tie that data to what is happening on the inbound side. I will hit that on my follow up post. Spoiler alert – there’s lots of opportunity to improve.

Mike Haeg is an industry guru in the call analytics and technology sector. He has a deep passion for helping dealers measure their marketing ROI and i...
Thanks for the insight Mike.  Very scary info that all dealers have to take into account.  Service has to be on it since generally, it is your loyal customer that have bought several vehicles from you or may be a first time customer and trying to make that first impression.  You never have a 2nd chance at a 1st impression.
I recall a conversation with a dealer who said we can handle "x" number of calls per hour.  To me that translated into, we know our current volume of calls and we know what we expect it to grow to this year.  
It would be interesting to see if a dealer doubled their call handling capacity by hiring a temp employee for a month or two - even an intern, just to see what it does in terms of revenue growth.
I think this is a common problem across most small and even medium sized businesses. Dealers at least have sales people that can answer phones but the culture still needs to be set from the top.  No one is too busy or too important to answer the phone and capturing the data after the phone call has been answered is just as critical as answering the phone.
 @Jim Bell Hey Jim! You're certainly right that you never have a 2nd chance at a 1st impression.
Also, while it is "scary" indeed, the fun part for us is the amount of green grass on the other side!  If you're already generating X phone calls, setting Y appointments, and selling Z cars, the incremental changes discussed above (which we can help you achieve) will be even more of X, Y, and Z. 
Yeah - and then we (dealers) turn around and want to point fingers elsewhere. It's a vicious cycle.