Turning a Phone Call Into an Appointment


It’s no secret that your dealership’s location can pose challenges to running an effective sales process. Situated in congested Chicago, the Berman Infiniti of Chicago team knows all too well the toll this can take on show rates. I sat down with Micah Basarich, the store’s BDC Manager, to learn how he’s hacked his way to high show rates and more than doubled the team’s closing ratio since he started two years ago.

Standing out from the competition is “getting harder and harder to do,” Basarich says, especially when operating from the heart of the nation’s third-largest city where public transportation is king.

Yet two distinct selling points prevail at his dealership, the 30-Day Perfect Car Promise and the at-home, at-office presentation. The former assures customers 30 days or 700 miles (whichever comes first) within purchasing the vehicle to return it for any reason they can dream of: being unsatisfied with the color, its features, or feeling like they made a mistake. Infiniti of Chicago then accepts the car and credits what the customer paid toward any other vehicle in stock, no questions asked.

“It takes the unsureness out of ‘Did I buy the right car?’ or ‘Do I really want to go down to Chicago to look at the vehicle?’” Basarich observes. “Now they have 30 days and 700 miles to know they made the right choice, plus it makes it easier for them to come down to the store.”

In addition to the 30-Day Perfect Car Promise, Infiniti of Chicago’s at-home, at-office presentation takes the product to more prospects that typically don’t make it to the city to see it, once again making it easier for customers to say yes. A dealership consultant heads out with the car to the customer’s place of business or home to conduct the test drive and vehicle presentation.

For customers who have already committed to an appointment, dealership staff emails them an appointment reminder. But it’s not just any appointment reminder; it boasts a physical bribe (er, incentive) such as a gas card or Smart Watch.

Basarich notes that once someone shows up at the dealership, he or she is pretty much a guaranteed buyer. To ensure the hardest part of the sales process — getting the customer to show at the Windy City Infiniti — one practice he relies on is an increased focus in proper lead handling over the phone, in which he’s made it a priority “to get more phone savvy people on his team,” he says.

Knowing your customer, asking qualified questions, knowing what they’re driving, pinpointing their hot buttons, are all things for agents to find out from the customer if they want to keep them engaged on that first phone call. And it will  up the chances they’ll show at the store’s location — a location where parking is a nightmare and surrounding traffic runs amok.

“I think that’s the trick: using information on the phone to turn the customer’s questions into an appointment,” says Basarich. “When I was working at a dealership in Naperville [surrounding suburb], I didn’t even have to ask for the appointment — people would just come to me because I was the path of least resistance.

“Agents have to have the information lined up, you have to answer customers’ questions, and you gotta be respectful,” he adds. “It’s a completely different game, city selling versus suburban selling.”

The BDC Manager puts an emphasis on solid phone performance when working to enhance show rates and close deals at a dealership.

“As smart phones become more prevalent and the technology around that has grown, we see more people hitting click-to-call on our ads as opposed to Internet leads because it’s a faster and easier action. Customers can get their information more instantaneous this way, without leaving a digital footprint,”he says. “Being good on the phones is going to be more and more important — those click-to-call options are driving our phone call traffic back up instead of back down like we used to see in the last several years.”

Basarich doesn’t foresee his location standing in the way of the dealership surpassing the average Chicago closing ratio of 10 percent; their goal is to hit 12 percent. He said the store is somewhere between 8.5 and 9.5 percent, with the 30-Day Perfect Car Promise, at-home, at-business presentation, and most importantly, exceptional phone performance serving as the driving forces.

What does your dealership do to ensure customers show?