Improving Communication Across the Dealership

two-way radios

Communication is the key to so many facets of life. The timing and energy to properly communicate are especially key to smart business acumen everywhere.

In the Dealership environment, and particularly within the Fixed Operation arena, communication is often very dysfunctional. Phones ring unanswered, unintelligible paging is blaring out over loudspeakers and emails go routinely unanswered. Heck, a lot of Advisors don’t even know how to get into their company email that is printed on their business card! (can you relate?)

Solid communication can solve so many ills and create efficiencies that benefit everyone involved. I want to talk to you about how you can make more money, serve customers better and improve employee morale…Are you in?

What I am referring to is two-way radios!

I have been involved with Dealerships who use mandatory two-way radios to a great benefit. There have been many advantages that all translate into happier employees, better served customers and enhanced profitability.

The way I see them affecting business falls into three general categories.

  1. Instantaneous results
  2. The group benefits
  3. The feature that is a closed loop and quiet except for those listening to the conversation.

The ‘INSTANT’, ‘GROUP’ and ‘STEALTH’ aspects of two-way radios in Parts & Service make them superior to any other system. Here are some considerations.

Instant benefits from installing a two-way radio system

  • Instant touch with all personnel – Ask a question and get an answer
  • Keeps Techs in their bay – They can radio their needs to Parts or Advisors
  • Keeps Advisors at their desks – They can radio their needs to Management, Techs or Parts
  • Allows Parts to become a delivery service for Techs
  • Alert an Advisor to a customer in the lane so they can attend quicker
  • Get location status of employees that have wandered away from their post

Group aspects that benefit the Dealership with two-way radio communication

  • Inquire about a situation that you don’t know who is responsible – “WHO PARKED THE RED TRUCK UP FRONT?” “Who was working with Mr. Smith, he has been sitting in the waiting room too long”
  • Keeps paging to a minimum
  • Allows team members to assist during an overload – If an advisor is told he has a call holding and a teammate can see he can’t pick it up they can intervene
  • Call meetings “I need all (Insert Group Name here) to meet in the center of the shop for a quick meeting”
  • Allows receptionist to make sure they are sending a customer to a phone that will be answered

Ways to use the stealth nature of the system to your gain

  • Prevents Customers from hearing a lot of chatter between employees
  • Allows discreet professional conversation that may be sensitive in nature to customers
  • Allows the ability to WOW a customer by alerting people to be attentive at just the right time.

While this is a fantastic way to increase communication ease and efficiencies, there are definitely some rules to follow and pitfalls to avoid.

Here are some must do’s

  • Must be mandatory, I recommend a zero-tolerance policy. If there are broken links in the system it will obviously not work as well
  • Make it mandatory to wear an earpiece  – customers don’t want to hear you – and you don’t want them to hear you!
  • Use separate channels for different departments – commonly channel 1 for parts and service channel 2 for sales and upfront.
  • Set Up your radio charger in a convenient spot and charge your unit at work each night
  • Take care of your earpiece so it continues to work trouble free
Here are some DON’Ts
  • Don’t horseplay for obvious reasons. Counsel and correct employees that break this rule.
  • Don’t hold a lengthy discussion over the radio…move to phone or in person or another radio channel
  • Don’t work without your radio on and your earpiece in place.

This is a system that may seem difficult to install and get everyone using with consistency. The reality is that the  Dealerships I work with that insist that employees utilize their radios without exception have tremendous success.

One of the objections I hear is the cost of the radios seems prohibitive, and I do have stores that use expensive radios. In these cases, the employee is payroll deducted for the cost of the radio over a couple of pay periods. If and when that employee leaves the Dealership, they can credit the employee for full or partial price of the radio as they see fit. As an alternative, there are companies that I have had direct experience for long term that make great economical radios – you can outfit 100 people for around $1500

Trust me when I say, if you implement mandatory two-way radios in your fixed operations departments you will immediately see an upswing in morale and gross profit!