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Pickup Rate Not Keeping Up With Rise in Inbound Calls, Survey Shows

March 1, 2016

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — A 2015 survey of 117 of the top U.S. dealerships found that while the number of incoming calls at a dealership are increasing, the pickup rate isn’t.

Conducted by CallSource, a provider of call tracking solutions, the survey found that 39% of dealerships experienced a 5% to 10% increase in calls, while 49% experienced a more than 15% increase in incoming calls.

“Smartphones are changing the landscape of auto sales — driving record numbers of phone calls to the dealership and resulting in a sharp decline in incoming email leads. This means there needs to be a fundamental shift in how dealers value their sales teams’ phone skills,” said David Greene, vice president of CallSource's auto division. “This survey shows that there is a clear disconnect between what dealers think is happening on their phones and what is really going on. If they were setting as many appointments as they believed, their performance would outshine the highest performing dealers we’ve ever seen.”

A third of the dealers surveyed believed they converted 21% to 49% of inbound calls into appointments, but CallSource internal data shows that the average call-to-appointment ratio was closer to 8%.

Eighty-nine percent of dealers surveyed agreed that having a comprehensive process for handling inbound calls was important; however, only 40% were confident they were managing incoming calls effectively — nearly one-third of dealers believed they lost 20% of their sales to a competitor.

“For every four sales appointments set, a dealer typically converts at least one into a sale, averaging about $2,200 in bottom line profit for a new-car sale,” Greene said. “This means for every four or five mishandled incoming calls, a dealer is potentially losing not only 2,200 in profit but also forfeiting the marketing spend that went into driving that consumer to their phones in the first place.”

Although a previous CallSource study found that 84% of a dealership’s inbound calls don’t ultimately convert to a sale, the study also found that top-performing dealers could reach over 33% call-to-sale ratios.

“These days, with smartphone’s ‘click to call feature,’ more calls are streaming in than ever before. We have a few seconds to make or break a customer relationship,” said Casey Jenkins of Jenkins & Wynn Ford Lincoln Honda. “There is zero need to spend money marketing our services, if we can’t communicate professionally or convert a call to a customer transaction via the phone.”

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