Over the past two years, the phone has secured its place as the most reliable and common form of communication. While texting and online chatting are becoming more common, most people have become accustomed to making a phone call before coming to a dealership. Because of the phone’s pervasiveness, dealerships are continuing to get more and more phone calls.

In 2020, an average of 70,028 calls were made to a given dealership. However, in 2021, this number increased to 80,694. That’s a 15.23% increase in the past year. While high call volume can be overwhelming if understaffed or unprepared, the 15% increase gives dealerships a lot of opportunity. Recently, instead of cars sitting out front for weeks, cars are in such high demand that they could be gone the day you get it in. Don’t let the ringing be a nuisance, but an asset to increase sales and happy customers. Learn how to prepare for the increase in call volume and be above your competition by understanding and implementing these 4 strategies.

Supply and Demand

By now, we all know the demand for vehicles is high while inventory is low. The inventory shortages can make conversations with customers difficult, so it is important to implement proper phone handling etiquette like being personable with your client, requesting them in for a test drive EVERY time, and setting firm appointments on a specific date and time to avoid no-shows. Most customers are calling multiple dealers looking for a specific car that may or may not be in stock. It’s the dealer’s job to have a script prepared for this where they can speak to test driving a similar car or older model and inform them of new cars coming in every day to still get that customer in the door. In fact, most customers do not buy the original car they were looking at, so don’t be afraid to show other options that still fit their biggest wants and needs.

Phone Bridges Solve Problems

By building a simple phone bridge or IVR to press one for sales, two for service, or three for parts when a customer calls your dealership, you can help create a smooth customer journey. A bridge can help callers get to their appropriate party without bogging down a receptionist. This allows them to get ear to ear with someone who can answer all questions immediately, instead of getting transferred from different agents lines and departments, or sitting on hold. Long customer hold times is a top reason for lost opportunities in many dealerships, so creating the bridge to trim down that time can help save customers. The rise in call volume also means a rise in spam calls. Creating a phone bridge will weed out the spam callers because “robo” spam callers will get stuck in the prompt and never even reach someone on your team.

Know Trending Times of Inbound Calls

Dealerships’ phones are buzzing more than they ever have. Throughout 2019, 2020, and 2021, there has been a consistent peak in inbound call volume on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Furthermore, regardless of the day of the week, call volume has consistently peaked between 10 AM and 1 PM. Not answering inbound calls leaves money on the table and the chances of the customer calling backdrops to only 27.7%. It is important to connect every caller ear to ear with an agent who can help. This does not mean a call being answered by a receptionist who then transfers the customer to an agent where they get left on hold; this means they are talking to someone who is readily available to answer all of their questions. Make sure you are fully staffed at peak hours to ensure every call is connected.

Don’t Forget About Your Service Department

More than half of inbound call volume in 2021 occurred in Service. Don’t let your Service department fall behind and be sure to keep them aware of the trending times and days of large call volume. Also, ensure they are prepared to connect every caller to the correct agent, they are requesting every customer in for an inspection, and setting firm appointment times and days. By doing so, you won’t miss opportunities, your service bays will be full every hour of the day, and customers will be more likely to show up for their appointments.

Don’t let the number of inbound calls be an overwhelming nuisance, but instead embrace the opportunity it brings and learn how to properly manage the phone. Know how to handle phone calls when inventory is discussed, use phone bridges to weed out spam and lower hold times, know trending times of inbound calls, and don’t forget about your Service department.

Did you enjoy this article from Steve Mitchell? Read other articles on CBT News here. Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic by submitting a letter to the editor here, or connect with us at newsroom@cbtnews.com.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.