Two good reasons to answer the phone. Otherwise, don’t?

When asked why they answer the phone, most service advisers respond: “Because it’s my job.” I submit that many of the calls coming into shops are the result of service advisers failing to do their job. Let me share how service advisers can make answering the phone the most beneficial use of their time.

Bill Haas 

There are only two good reasons for the phone to ring at your store. The first is that the caller is responding to your marketing. You make a tremendous effort to market your company through brand-building strategies. You invest manpower and financial resources to invite vehicle owners to use your store for all of their vehicle maintenance and repair needs. The return on that investment is measured by the number of times the phone rings in response to your marketing.

The other good reason is that one of your clients has an emergency. Although you make every effort to ensure your clients’ vehicles are inspected on every service visit, and you recommend the necessary maintenance to ensure the vehicle provides dependable transportation, sometimes things happen and your client winds up in a bad situation. When that happens, they call your store because they know they can count on you to help.

So what are all those other calls you answer? Think about the number of times you answer the phone in a day and how many fall into the two categories I just defined? Or, how many sound like this: “I dropped off my car this morning. Have you looked at it yet?” Or, “Will my car be done today?” Or, “I see from the service reminder on the windshield that I’m due for an oil change. Can I make an appointment?”

Those are the ones that indicate service advisers failed to do their job. Phone calls take time, which no one has enough of. They’re distractions that take service advisers away from the tasks they’re performing. Answering those calls makes all of the service advisers’ responsibilities take longer. It takes them longer to write estimates, create invoices, order parts, follow up with customers and make sales. Taking calls interferes with service advisers being able to provide customers an exceptional experience.

Take the time to evaluate every inbound call to your store. If you learn the calls are not responses to your marketing or a client with an emergency, you’ve identified a process improvement opportunity.

Recall my last column about implementing promise times that eliminate inbound calls to inquire about whether vehicles have been looked at or will be completed that day. Pre-booking the next service visit will eliminate or reduce calls from clients to make an appointment. And the time it takes to set a promise time or pre-book the next appointment is small when compared with the time spent to answer those calls.

So start making better use of your time on the phone. Instead, make sure you’re available for the people responding to your invitations to give your store a try.