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TAKE POLL My BS Meter is Going Radioactive!

Apr 28, 2009
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First Name
Jerry
Nothing fuels my desire to write like the need to set the record straight. I was recently forwarded Alan Ram’s interview on CBT news. In that interview, Alan shared his thoughts on dealers’ spending money with third party services that reviewed calls and coached calls. Well I am here to tell you my BS meter is going radioactive!

In the interview Alan stated: "managers should be listening to their dealerships calls." Alan, when’s the last time you did this? Do you realize how many calls the typical dealership receives in any given day? It’s a lot, and what manager has the bandwidth to peruse calls all day long! This is a job that can be outsourced for a lot less than what it cost to employ a manager. Why would I want a guy making six figures listening to calls that can be reviewed by a person making minimum wage?

There is plenty of evidence indicating dealerships spending $1K listening to recorded calls can quantify that spend with an additional $10K in profit. Services like CallRevu actually listen to calls within 20 minutes of origination, and are able to alert key dealership personnel when a calls potential was not met. With the average dealership not even answering 34% of their calls, one can see there’s plenty of potential to capitalize on missed opportunities. When people know they are being monitored, they tend to perform at a higher level. This great article written by Mike Haeg from Century Interactive will help you better understand the “Hawthorne Effect.”

Coaching calls is a great way to offer training in areas where improvement is needed. I realized long ago that seminars and video training were ineffective unless followed up with personalized coaching. Salespeople watching training videos and attending seminars will only retain a small fraction of the information presented. Dealers paying a monthly fee to access training videos are wasting their money. The employee watches the video once and then goes right back to their old habits.

Let’s look outside the box and examine the golf industry. Let’s say you’re a 30 handicapper and you have decided it’s time to become a scratch golfer. You purchase several golf instructional videos in hopes of improving your game. The day comes and you decide to take your new knowledge to the golf course in hopes of shooting a career round. Unfortunately things don’t work out and your crappy swing is producing the same three digit scores. A more effective approach would have been to hire a PGA teaching instructor to follow you around the course. Your Instructor would offer a critique after every swing. This type of training is much more effective since it offers the precise training required for that individual based on their actual results. This is exactly the type of service Phone Ninjas offers dealership personnel when coaching individual calls.

So before criticizing dealers for using “magic bullets,” one should do a little more research and better understand how technology can in fact help dealerships gain an advantage over their competitors. I have a very close relationship with CallRevu and I can tell you that our best mutual clients are achieving 80% appointment ratios with first time phone shoppers.

On a brighter note, I do agree with your opinions on BDC’s. :iagree:

How does the rest of the Dealer Refresh community feel about this? Do you monitor your calls, don't care, or use a third party service?
 
Nov 22, 2011
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First Name
Michael
Managers listening to calls is a ridiculous waste of time. Jerry is 100% right, you pay someone minimum wage to do a minimum wage job. I equate this to dealerships that have their Pre-Owned Managers taking photos of the inventory. Sure, you can pay your $80K+ UCM to take pictures or you can pay a lot guy $10/hr. to do it. Personally, I want my UCM repricing cars on vAuto, appraising cars and going to the auction. I want my sales managers getting an alert to tell them which call to listen to.
 
Dec 30, 2009
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Yago
Agreed with everything but I must note @MichaelWarwick that $10 lot attendants will get you $10 looking photos. Don't you agree Mr. @WilliamWalker ?

It is the same issue. The UCM's job is to--among others--sell used cars. To try to make him a trainer is a failure of assuming abilities.

A lot attendant 's job has--no insult intended--the lowest qualifications at the dealership, how donwe assume then being good at photography and merchandising?

The reason for @Jerry Thibeau's success is that dealers are in need of highly qualified employees that must have very specific training. The "do it all" manager doesn't cut it in a competitive market.
 
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Dec 28, 2010
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Chip
I read a different message into Mr. Ram's comments. First, the message that the quality of the call is critical is spot on, and finally there is a huge focus on the impact of the phone process in automotive. However It is precisely the "culture" he purveys that dealers can listen to calls themselves that is at the core of the issue. They can't and they won't. 20% of all calls on recorded lines end up as connected to a sales rep and about a purchase. 65% of all calls on Sales Lines are for Fixed Operations. First you have to listen to at least some of each these thousands of calls to find the sales calls. Then, if you are able to identify 300 real Sales Calls, it will take 16 hours to listen to them (avg length 3.2 minutes). Then you need a reporting method to see trends and measure the impact/use of the data. Please!

More important:
  • Broken Process- 37% of every call that starts with a request to speak to a sales agent, no matter the Ad Source, fail to reach one. Read that again...its true. This is a process issue that is totally invisible without measurement.
  • Training Required- 53% of the calls that do get to a sales rep (read as 33% of all calls requesting sales) are not asked for their contact information. Take out the number of previous customers that have contact information on record, and you still have a disaster impacting your bottom line. Lead Management 101.
  • CRM- Your CRM is only able to tell you what you told it. Reverse look up only matches 1 in 4 callers.
  • Its not just Sales Calls that matter! What about the caller that is trying desperately to get a status update on their car in service, or the caller that has left 3 messages that their tags are expired, or they received an overdue notice from the bank on their trade in...do these impact future sales???
  • Bottom Line is the Bottom Line - Dealers have always fixed what they have measured. Phone process and skill training are critical to that fix. You can hold your trainer accountable as well with good employee performance data. If you sell more cars to happier customers, your Financial Statement will tell you if you are on the right path.
We see significant increases in appointments set on inbound calls with dealers that use effective training services. Individual call coaching like Phone Ninjas is a great way to enhance LMS and in store training like Alan Ram's Proactive Training----so from where I stand its not an either-or situation. While I do have some favorites, mostly chosen by their ethics and passion, I don't know all the players in the training space...but I do know this...Dealers should pick a training partner (or 2 :)), and measure the improvement using the best tool in the box...their Financial Statement.