Need to Do Something

Some dealers are selling hundreds of extra cars a month by establishing a Customer Relationship Center (CRC) dedicated to handling customer contacts and turning them into dealership sales appointments. Let's look at how it is done. Paragon Honda Acura in New York City sold 214 extra cars in one month because of their customer relationship center. Brian Benstock tells why the Queens store set up the

Some dealers are selling hundreds of extra cars a month by establishing a Customer Relationship Center (CRC) dedicated to handling customer contacts and turning them into dealership sales appointments. Let's look at how it is done.

Paragon Honda Acura in New York City sold 214 extra cars in one month because of their customer relationship center. Brian Benstock tells why the Queens store set up the center in the first place.

“We were embarrassed when we mystery shopped our dealership over the web and phone, so Paul Singer and I decided we needed to do something,” he says. “Today our CRC is our primary source of business.”

Such centers handle all inbound and outbound customer activities including phone calls, the Internet, follow-up of unsold and sold customers, service contacts, renewals, prospecting and more. The most successful centers start with the right place, marketing, people and process to get the best results.

It begins by creating a physical department within the dealership.

“We have a separate room where our specialists focus 100% of their time on contacting customers and selling them on appointments,” says Benstock. Equipment includes desks, computers, phones, headsets, scripts and appointment boards

“We consider our CRC as our marketing hub because it generates more traffic than all the ads we run,” he says. “It also helps us get a better return on our advertising. When I spend money marketing today I make sure that every ad promotes our phone number and website because I know our CRC will set appointments with 50% of the leads, 50% will show and over half will buy.

“We also follow up for 3-6 months to sell unsold prospects long after the sales team has forgotten about them.”

More profits come from improving the customer relationship process. It is important to define and detail each step of the process to ensure that customers experience a “wow” effect at every touch point in your store.

Most dealers first implement and perfect the inbound phone and Internet processes. Next comes mastery of outbound follow-ups and proactive marketing.

The customer relationship center's manager recruits, hires, trains and coaches the team.

Team members handle all inbound/outbound customer contacts to set up appointments.

After the specialists gets the appointment, it is up to the sales and service department personnel to turn the appointment into a life-long customer.

It is important to train your team on all of the processes so they are experts in how to handle phone calls, Internet contacts, unsold follow-ups, sold follow-ups, service reminders, service follow-ups, renewals and other prospecting activities.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software systems help automate and track the center's assorted activities.

“We use our CRM tool to manage and measure all of our processes better,” says Benstock. “Some tools will automate a lot of activities that allow you to do more with less people. Automation allowed us to increase our sales without hiring too many extra people.

“It also ensures the process is done right all the time. I get automated reports e-mailed to me every morning with all of the previous day's activities, results and recommendations.”

The most important people to the customer relationship center are not in the center itself. They are the dealer, the general manager and general sales manager.

Their leadership and commitment is critical. The best dealers find new ways to grow and improve their businesses.

Sean Wolfington is CEO of BZResults. He can be reached at [email protected].

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