Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 35

Yesterday we started on some things you can do to make positive changes regardless of what is going on around you. Here's more today.

When I hear a dealer complaining about business being slow, I am amazed at how many of them close off avenues that business comes through regularly. One of my pet peeves is telephone handling. I'll give you an example that just happened two days ago.

I called a dealer and asked for a salesperson I know. A person answers the phone. She said nothing to me after I said his name and about 30 seconds later, I get his voice mail. I leave a message. A few minutes go by and I call again because he had just called me a short time ago, so I know he is around. This time, I get the exact same treatment. No communication. So I call back and ask for the manager. I couldn't remember his last name, but I said he is the manager and his first name is such and such. She says, "I don't know them since I have only been here a week, but I'll look and see if I can find a manager by that name." The next thing is click, then some seconds later, I get his voice mail.

I have more patience than most, but what is wrong with this scenario? First, no courtesy in communication. Don't send someone straight to voice mail, communicate with them and ask if they want voice mail. Try to get a number and name so there is some kind of record of the call. It could very well be a sale! What else? "It's not my fault, I'm new here." Wrong. You're out of here! But, really, it isn't her fault, she has no training! Who hired her and is not training her?

I was in the car business for over 25 years and I know for a fact just how much business is done over the telephone. It is among the most important tools that there is. It deserves to be treated in this manner. A $10 and hour clerk with no training is not going to make you any money, but they will cost you thousands every month!

The worst are the answering programs where there is no person. They are probably okay for the Social Security office, but certainly not in an auto dealership. This is just ridiculous to me. Whatever amount they think they are saving is way off in the negative because of the lost sales. Sales are down? First thing I want to do is put a super star on the telephone. I would pay them $25 an hour if needed. They are worth way more than this if they are good. That will change your business climate in this economy or any economy! We have called hundreds of dealers and the number of good telephone people can be counted on one hand.

Think about it. A customer is shopping around. Maybe they were in yesterday or the day before and talked with Joe. They had a question about the numbers, so they call. Are they going to get to complete this call? Will they get Joe or his voice mail? If they get his voice mail, will they leave a message? Maybe. Frankly, I dislike those odds. I want a great deal more control over this, so I want someone who knows how to handle this and who will know that Joe is out with a customer and will know how to soothe this situation and have Joe call them in just a few minutes.

How about in the evening after the receptionist has gone home. Now the sales staff is expected to answer the phone. Good luck. "Hello, is Joe available?" "Just a minute." Music on hold. . . 10 seconds, 20 seconds, ring back. "Can I help you?" "I was holding for Joe." "Just a minute." Music on hold. . . 10. . .20. You get the idea. You think I am making this up. No way. This is for real. I'm a buyer. What will I do next? Not call Joe. Another not sale that didn't count because no one knew about it. I say again, it is costing thousands of dollars every month in lost business.

I call another dealership and ask is so and so available. "I'm sorry, but he is off today." I say, "Thank you." I hear a click. I'm a buyer, but so and so is off today. What am I to do? I can't wait around for so and so. . . Another several thousand dollars gone, but nobody knows about it, because management is sleeping and dreaming of better times. Get a clue people! Wake up!

You want to test this. Call ten dealerships yourself and see what I mean. Business can begin improving overnight with a little change in thinking of how business comes into a dealership. The telephone is one of the most powerful and useful. It is costing dealers millions across the country to not pay attention to this. Let us change this now!

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