Can Your Dealership Beat the Mystery Shopping Challenge
My company recently mystery shopped 28 dealerships around the
country. We called each dealership twice for a total of 56 calls in six
weeks, and the results were truly eye opening — so much so that I feel
compelled to share the results with the industry.
First, let me explain that on our scale, the maximum opportunity — a
perfect score — is 35 points. While you wouldn’t need a perfect score to
set the appointment, you want to be as perfect as possible.
Having said that, the top people only received a 16.75 average. That’s
right; the best of the bunch earned less than half the points possible. Are
your eyes opened yet?
Out of the 28 dealerships we could not reach two. That’s right — two
dealerships didn’t even answer the phone. Keep in mind that even though
we called all the dealerships twice, on different days, we still couldn’t
even get two stores to pick up the phone.
It’s hard to overstate how important the initial experience is for a
customer contacting a dealership — you’ve only got one shot to make an
impression. That initial experience boils down to simple actions. How
many times did the phone ring? How many people did they go through
before getting a salesman?
We found that out of the 28 dealerships, only eight had acceptable
scores for initial experience. There were so many calls where the phone
rang off the hook. Moreover, when they finally did answer the call, it
wasn’t the right person to take a sales call and was often fumbled in the
process of transferring to the right person. And, in several instances,
after waiting on hold, being transferred and having an overall stressful
initial experience, some calls wound up going to people’s voicemails.
That’s a lot of work on the potential customer’s part for absolutely no
result. How would you feel?
While the majority was able to conduct a proper greeting, about a third
of the group struggled on the greeting, and almost everyone did a poor
job on phone etiquette; that they did not ask for the prospect’s contact
information including names, phone number, email address etc.
Of the 28 dealerships, 23 did not qualify the prospects other than on the
vehicle. They did not identify wants, wishes, expectations etc.
Only six of the 28 dealerships demonstrated any type of “phone
process,” and even those six struggled in the execution. For the most
part, people answered the phone and tried to answer some basic
questions, but there was no strategy. There was no “road to the
appointment” process and there was no value being created. There were
just people answering the phones and trying to answer some questions
and “hoping” that these prospects would just show up to the dealership.
Only five percent of the dealerships evaluated attempted to build
value in themselves, the dealership or the product. The vast majority
absolutely did not “sell the appointment.”
We found that their closing were generally good, but it’s was too little,
too late because by then, the customer has not had a good experience.
The bottom line is that the phones are one of the most important,
most basic and most misused opportunities at the dealership. Every
dealership needs the following:
• A strategy of inbound phone calls — Specifically, you want
to make sure that, when you are trying to sell the second most
expensive item the average American will ever purchase in their
lifetime, it is an awesome first impression and experience. You
want the right person to answer the phone within two to three
rings, and they are capable of answering questions and satisfying
the needs of the prospect.
• A contingency plan —If your “A-Plan” doesn’t work, there needs
to be a “Plan B” in place. For example, if the phone rings more
than three times, the phone system is set up to re-route the call.
• A “road to the appointment” phone strategy — If you think
that it is important to have a “road to the sale” for the showroom,
then I assure you that you need to have the same strategy for the
• The ability to sell the appointment — The goal is getting the
maximum amount of appointments to show to the dealership, not
a bunch of appointments who’ll never show up. The only way to
do that is to sell the value of your organization.
• Create a “value package proposition” — You need a “why buy
from us” list, and articulate it to each and every prospect.
• A clear objective — Remember that the No. 1 goal of the phone
opportunity is to secure contact information, not make the
appointment. The appointment is secondary. Think about it; if you
do not secure all the relevant contact information and they do not
show up, you’ve got nothing.
Dealers need to respect the phones. Why spend $60,000 per month (the
NADA average) and drive all of this “traffic” to the dealership via the
Internet and phones and totally blow it on the phones? It doesn’t make
sense. I advise every single dealership to evaluate the way they handle
their phone call protocol and strategy. Mystery shop your own store; you
may will be shocked at what you find.
As a matter of fact, if you would like me to mystery shop your dealership
for free, contact me and I will conduct a mystery shop, recorded and
graded, at no charge.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized
training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at
866.648.7400, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.