Even with other methods of communication, a phone is still vital

A phone… your phone… your work phone. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a landline, cell or even satellite phone: it’s still a phone. And the phone is not just a phone. It’s a first impression and it’s a sales tool.

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Kate Jonasse

Kate Jonasse, owner of K-Tech Automotive and Pauline’s Automotive in Sebastopol, California, says, “Even with digital platforms, the phone is important because it’s where they hear our voice and tone and communicate with a being. living human. Nothing replaces communication with a living human being. The world has become so technical and impersonal that we must now return to more personal and individual things. We’re not real to a customer if they just look at our digital platform – we become more real to them when we talk to them on the phone. »

Fully understanding the impact of the right phone policy in your store can have a big impact on your bottom line. It is a key part of owning a successful business. “Phone management is the number one skill for service writers as far as I’m concerned,” says Jonasse. “It will make or break a business. The number one purpose of phones is to get cars into the door.

It starts with knowing the different incoming call scenarios. Once you have defined these for your store, you can then prepare policies and scripts for each. Yes, scripts. Training your team on how to handle customers – and what to say – using scripts is an effective tool that you should include in your arsenal of policies and procedures.

Here are some top phone procedure areas you need to pay attention to if you want to grow your business:


The store is busy. Several calls come in. Customers look at you at the reception. Technicians ask questions. All at the same time. It’s important not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a busy store. Team members who answer the phone must learn to handle each call with respect and sincerity. Something as simple as training your team to smile when they answer the call really helps. Try it yourself. This smile is immediately transmitted to the person on the other end of the call. And don’t forget the power of a “thank you” at the end of every call.


For example, when you call a restaurant or store to see if they have a particular item in stock, you can tell if the person answering is bored and doesn’t care. It’s infuriating! And it’s a great ride. You hang up and don’t want to go to that company again because of the way that employee treated you on the phone. Make sure your team is enthusiastic with every call that is answered.

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to monitor calls and verify that all team members treat each call with a genuine interest in that customer’s issue. Jonasse says the only way to know a future employee has this attitude is to test them. “We do work interviews where potential service writers do callbacks during the interview. I listen to how they talk to the client and how they handle the different situations that arise and I see if they can think through themselves. ”


Many successful store owners prepare phone scripts for their front desk. Not one script but several, each tackling a different scenario. These scripts should also grow and be supplemented over time. Have them easily accessible for your team to review. Encourage each employee to take ownership of custom language, but having the basic script is a great guideline for anyone who answers your phones. “I have phone scripts for recommended recalls and repair calls I’ve received from DRIVE,” says Jonasse. “We use them diligently.” You should review them quarterly to ensure that each situation is included in your store’s phone script manual.


It’s not enough to be nice and it’s not enough to be informed. Employees responsible for answering calls need to know how to slow down a conversation and not appear to be rushed. There’s nothing worse than feeling like an employee just wants to hang up the phone.


Of course, that goes for any position in your store, but the same focus you put on hiring great technicians should also be put on hiring great front desk staff. After this initial interview, take the best candidates through role play calls with you on the other side of the calls. Don’t expect perfection, but what you need to be aware of is the attitude, friendliness and willingness to help. These are the key elements of a great front desk worker. And as Jonasse says, can they “think on their feet?


“Marketing makes the phone ring. It’s the duty writer’s job to get the car in the door from then on,” says Jonasse. You want your front desk to be armed with all the information needed to schedule appointments and increase car counts. What you don’t want is for your team members to be unaware of special promotions you’re advertising or other marketing actions being promoted to your customer base and community. Also make sure they are aware of any public relations actions like giving away a car or entering local contests. It’s not fair to your employees if you don’t keep them updated on your store’s initiatives. The last thing you need is someone calling and asking about an advertised special and your employee doesn’t know about it. It’s up to you to make everyone aware of the marketing you’re going with. And that’s another reason in a long list of reasons for a daily meeting with your team.

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