Evaluating Business Class VoIP Phone Systems For Car Dealers
Ready to evaluate both sides of a purchasing a modern VoIP system for your car dealership?
Has anyone ever asked you what’s the perfect car? Not your dream car, but for them, as the customer? Maybe yes, maybe no, but regardless, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that everyone’s needs are different. So while a fuel efficient car for commuting might be perfect for that millennial, you may have parents looking for a safe, yet roomy SUV or minivan, or someone looking for something sleek and sexy with some serious power behind the wheel.
The point is, every vehicle out there has pros and cons for the person considering it. The same can be applied to VoIP phone systems at car dealers. There is no perfect fit, and there’s usually going to be both good and bad things at what you’re looking at.
So, let’s break it down and go over some of the top pros and cons of using a VoIP phone system at a car dealer.
The PROS of using a VoIP phone system at a car dealership.
There’s many, but let’s go over the top few:
The ability to bring in new technology at a reduced cost than most car dealers are currently paying.
In simple terms, you get the latest tech, which works better and simpler for less money than you’re currently paying. It’s the equivalent of going into an Apple store and getting a new iPhone just for renewing your contract. You’ll get upgraded to the newest hardware on the system with no upfront cost.
Most people want to take new technology in this instance. Who wouldn’t!?
VoIP is more nimble.
Imagine a system where you can get the right call to the right person every time. Sound too good to be true? Well with VoIP it’s possible.
In the past, the customer would get a recording with a long-winded auto attendant. One of those situations where you wait, you press zero, and then a receptionist picks up the phone and yells PLEASE HOLD without letting the customer get a word in edgewise.
In other words, zero customer service. Meanwhile, this person just wants to buy a car! Or even worse, you can spend thousands on marketing, lead nurturing digitally, and when a customer final calls in… they’re connected to the parts or FNI guy?!
VoIP gets calls to the right department every time without long, complicated menus. It’s easier to manage, more flexible, and simpler to ensure that your customers won’t get the runaround when they’re trying to give you their money!
The purpose-built design of a VoIP system for applications.
In the past, traditional phone systems were not designed with the availability for reporting or applications or software on the system. Everything was “bolted on” at additional time & expense to you, the customer. it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t cheap, and it required outside expertise to make sure your phones worked.
With VoIP, it’s the exact opposite. VoIP is purpose-built with applications and software to improve the flexibility and ease of use of a phone system within a dealership. Imagine being able to easily record calls and archive them, instant message team members, and coach, monitor, or join sales staff with the click of a button.
The analogy I like to make is it’s like the difference between a GPS in the dashboard of your car, hooked up to your phone via Bluetooth, versus using an old Garmin with outdated maps stuck on your windshield. Is anyone still using those?
Integration with CRM Tools
Simply put, most VoIP systems can easily integrate with a CRM, assuming you’re using the right systems! Depending on the VoIP system you’re looking into, as well as the CRM you’re using, you should be able to easily integrate the two.
Additionally, VoIP is designed for mobile apps, including the CRM, meaning, if your staff relies on the cellphones to do business, you as the manager can still oversee your staff members. it’s easy to both manage call productivity and voicemail from your computer, tablet, or cell phone, assuming you have administrative privileges within the VoIP system itself.
In the past you couldn’t check to see if people were checking voicemails, and had to rely on checking for red flashing lights, in any mailbox, be it service or general reception.
The days of dedicated “sales desks” or offices are gone. We’re seeing many dealers putting in sales bullpens versus dedicated desks for reps. If you’re using a VoIP phone system, you can have someone come into work, login to a phone, and that’s their phone for the day. It will have their voicemail, contacts, etc., meaning they can get right to business. This also allows you, the manager to keep track of call productivity, saved settings, etc., and make sure your staff is doing their job.
The CONS of using a VoIP phone system at a car dealership.
Like we said, nothing’s perfect, including VoIP. In fact, there are some negative sides that you should be aware of before signing and driving away in a new VoIP phone system.
Your computer systems are VITAL!
You need a good computer network, good network cabling, and a strong internet connection. This also means you’ll need to spend time and resources on these things. Are you sure your cabling within the building is good enough for VoIP? What about routers and switches? Are you looking at a one-stop solution provider to provide you with all the tech needed, or are you going to built your VoIP system piecemeal?
How about your current internet package? Do you need to upgrade, or purchase a failover line from an additional ISP? Do you have staff who can manage your network? Are your other staff members tech-savvy enough to use a phone system that does rely on the internet?
Another thing to consider is if your firewall and network switch are managed by CDK, you have to deal with them to install your VoIP system. This is a major problem that we have run into in the past, and something that we usually deal with on a case by case basis. If this applies to you, get in touch with your prospective VoIP provider ASAP to learn more.
Your phone has LESS buttons.
This is a tough thing for less tech-savvy staff members to deal with. Most modern IP phones simply have less buttons on them. While for some this is a great thing and makes them easier to use, for others this means having to learn “complicated” (they’re not complicated) menus and some basic understanding of using technology.
If you have any staff that is hesitant or outright against using “another new piece of tech” this can be a hurdle to overcome.
Your call quality will be awful if you don’t do this right.
This is something we see a lot, and we hear this as the #1 fear among dealerships. Bad call quality impacts reliability. We’ve heard potential customers say they’d rather keep the old stuff that just “works” than have the potential for downtime or lost calls, even if the new system “works better”. No one wants to sound like their talking into a tin can underwater when trying to close a deal with a customer.
I hear it all the time, and totally understand where you guys are coming from.
But here’s the secret: if your VoIP system is setup correctly from the get-go, this isn’t an issue. If you don’t properly design your computer network, the cabling for the telephones, and the internet connections, including the router and firewall, you’ll end up with bad audio quality. I cannot stress enough that you must use best practices when it comes to your network!
The problem is, we go into car dealers, law firm offices, you name it, and see phones plugged into computers which are plugged into switches which are plugged into routers which are plugged into the wall and who knows where the lines go! This is a system destined to fail, and I cannot stress enough that having the right hardware and wiring can make a HUGE difference in the call quality of your VoIP phone system.
I like to say that VoIP is like the canary in the coal mine. It’s going to be the first thing to kick the bucket if you’re having any sort of internet issues.
Your best bet is having a VoIP company come out and get eyes on your operation. Have them see if your network is usable. There are options available if your wiring isn’t up to snuff, but be advised, to re-cable an entire car dealership, it can sometimes cost more than the entire new phone system!
You might be stuck in a contract aka they “got you by the calls”.
Your current phone system now is under some sort of contract. Whether it’s the hardware, the phone line, the maintenance plan, you name it, your under some sort of contract currently.
And, depending on how you purchased it, you could be all in! If you’re using an IT or DMS company, you could be on the hook for everything. This is a bad spot to be in since your existing contract holder literally “has you by the calls” and you’re at their mercy.
For example, if you’re using CDK, chances are you’re all in. They control DMS payment, computer network, and your phone network. If this is the case, it’s SUPER hard to unbundle!
For some this is fine. It’s the path of least resistance since everything and everyone integrates with everything else, but from what we’ve seen, you’re going to have issues at some point down the road. And, with CDK taking over 45 minutes to open up a service ticket after you call them, you could be without a phone system for over 45 minutes easily. I warn folks about CDK because simply put, they aren’t experts in everything. No one is, including us, which is why we stick to just VoIP phone systems, and we do it very well. CDK is going to be alright in all aspects, but will typically be more expensive than a standalone solution.
So you’re paying more for worse service. Doesn’t that sound like your competitor down the street?
Auto dealerships are service-oriented and cannot afford to wait.
If you’re looking at a national level VoIP provider, there are some things you need to take into consideration. For example, if you’re looking into a provider with a call center in California, chances are pretty good if you’re having an issue at 8am EST, they won’t even be awake yet.
I don’t’ know about your dealership, but most companies I talk to can’t afford to wait for support in California, or getting in touch with a local 3rd party consultant, or dealing with an IT who is shared between locations or out of town.
National level providers of technology don’t have local installation and service, so they’re relying on remote assistance if any assistance at all!
In instances like this they’re shipping phones to a dealership and relying on an inexperienced IT guy to get things set up and going. Again, this is a recipe for disaster. I call this the plug & pray, since IT providers who are inexperienced in VoIP are plugging in a new system and praying it works right. While I am a man of faith, you shouldn’t pray when it concerns the quality of your phone system.
Also, national level providers aren’t going to provide onsite training. Meaning if you have a problem, it’s up to you to figure out. This means either calling in and explaining a problem, searching Google for solutions, or waiting on the provider or 3rd party help to come to the rescue.
But forget about if something goes wrong, what about when you get your new phones and your system up and running. Can you easily use & operate the tech you purchased? Can you use it to it’s fullest potential? Also, sometimes you’ll need additional training 3 to 6 months down the road due to staff turnover or just a general understanding of the technology. The simple truth is additional training is a fact of life. If leaders neglect that they need to train on what they’re paying for a bit here and there on systems that help them and their staff drive numbers every month, they’re doomed to fail. There’s a famous quote that I think applies perfectly to training staff members on VoIP phone systems:
What happens if I train them and they leave? What happens if I don’t train them and they stay?
If you don’t stay on top of training, you’re not going to get the most bang for your buck. And, training has to be simple, has to be easy to use, and you have to be able to get support easily.
The final summary is that although there are pros and cons of a modern VoIP system for your car dealership, the pros outweigh the cons. You will be sure to benefit immensely by investing in a new system sooner rather than later.