Top Reasons Dealerships Need to Provision Telephone Lines


By Ted Ings, Executive Director

You've spent $600+ on average to acquire a new customer.

Yet most of us overlook a key piece of information when reviewing the reports: "Where exactly did the customer come from?"


The answer is usually contained in a CRM report. Wherein, the report will offer that the customer converted from your dealership website, third party, OEM, etc. However, if you were to provision a telephone line - for all vendors and your website - you would be surprised as to how many inbound calls you receive on a daily basis.

Here are some of the benefits, questions, and reasons why you need to provision lines:

1. Provisioned phone lines 101: The proper set-up

The common approach with provisioning lines is to have an 800 telephone number on the website that is recorded. Right?


Inbound leads (via vendors), business pages, and social media typically have either the 800 number or one of your local phone numbers. The one thing to note, though, when using the same line for all of the leads is that it makes it quite difficult to break down who provided the most opportunities.

Careful examination gives the dealership the ability to hold their vendors accountable, and also the opportunity to understand what marketing is working. If the dealer is able to review reports - with sales opportunities - they can then use that information develop and build their team. That is why provisioning telephone lines are not just limited to the sales number.

Provisioned telephone lines should be used for:

1. Marketing

2. Vendor Accounts

3. Social Media Pages

4. Campaigns

As for which vendor to work with, there are several who offer a wide range of options. One of the most important options is the ability to forward calls and switch the ring to number. Allowing dealers to automatically push a call to either the store or sales consultant.

2. Who should manage the telephone data?

There is such a thing as analysis paralysis - where there is so much data that it is mind-numbing to sift through it all. Where the purpose is to better understand where there is an opportunity.

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That said, it is essential to choose a platform that offers:

- Missed opportunities

- "Gave up" on hold

- Did not reach a live person

- Did not leave a voicemail

- Appointment set new vs. used

- Same day appointments

The manager of each department should receive an email notification. However, it is best to notify the entire management team, assigning each manager a specific day to review the telephone calls. This way there is not a day missed. An alert that is promptly and properly handled could save a deal!


For those dealerships with Business Development Centers (BDC), you can work with the BDC Manager to make sure they are reviewing the “inbox,” which houses the previous day's phone calls.

Ensuring that all sales opportunities are put into the CRM. Another tool - for the dealer - that provides the means for accountability. As you would be surprised as to how many sales consultants do not put their customer into the CRM. For those customers that were not put into the CRM, the BDC Manager can not just add them but call the customer, too. Imagine how many potential sales that can be saved!

3. How to pinpoint opportunities - and coach the BDC Agent (or Sales Consultant)

The platform of choice - in most cases - will offer a dashboard that houses calls for the day, appointments missed/set, and call volume to name a few. All of which can provide insight into the areas of opportunity. In which case, the BDC Manager (or sales manager) can drill into the day - most likely the previous day by default - viewing what opportunities were missed out on.

Making sure (as mentioned above) that the customer information is in the CRM. Once you have spotted a “missed opportunity,” it is best to review the call making sure that:

- The customer is in the CRM

- Is the customer sold?

- Who the customer is working with

- Are their notes in the CRM?

- What’s the status of the customer?

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This is essential to know before calling the sales consultant in to review the customer profile. Given that the customer could have called in on a cell phone or work phone that was not otherwise in the CRM. It is best to have both telephone numbers.


For example, if the customer called in from a work phone - it happens a lot - then decided to call from their cell phone (and we do not mark it down) it is then the weekend, and now we cannot get ahold of the customer.

A simple tip like that can help make all of the difference.

Especially if the customer were to visit the dealership on Saturday, and the new consultant searches by their cell phone number, and does not find them in the CRM. That said, once you have reviewed the phone call it is best to add the number into the CRM.

As for the missed opportunities, we know that it is unrealistic to expect the BDC or Consultants to be at a 100% set-rate for inbound phone calls. Where the national average for top performing stores is in the low to mid 60’s. With a higher set rate for new vehicles.

4. Analyze telephone calls by personnel

Don't just review monthly performance, but also 60, 90, and 120-day performance per employee. Offering you a trend in their true performance, not just 30 days.

By taking the areas of opportunity you can take it one step further by reviewing trends in the time of day that phone call quality drops. Perhaps at 2-5PM, the call volume is very high, and there is not enough staff to handle the volume. In which case the quality of handling those phone calls drops.


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And if you were to add the additional staff - or adjust their schedule - it could increase the appointment set rate. All of which can increase the show rate, which in turn increases the sold rate.

5. Why use a local telephone line vs. a 1-800 number?

A customer is more likely to call a local number versus an 800 toll-free number.

And if they are searching an online search engine then in many cases your business page probably has the local number listed. The same practice applies for using provisioned lines on marketing campaigns i.e. mailers, email blasts, and pop marketing.


Bottom Line: Recording lines by provisioning local numbers can help a dealership in more ways than they know. Where having that invaluable insight into marketing campaign results, set rate, show rate, sold rate, and missed opportunities can increase your sales! It can also increase sales as your BDC and Sales Consultants will have insight into areas they need improvement on.

Where if s/he needed assistance in asking for the appointment the second time - after the first stall/objection - the training and insight could assist them in refining the way they approach the objection.

If you are not analyzing calls - with provisioned telephone lines - you are missing sales opportunities!