TIMONIUM, Md. — Thirty-one percent of incoming sales calls and 20% of incoming service calls never reach an agent, according to call monitoring service CallRevu. Erik Nachbahr, president of Helion Automotive Technologies, noted that this statistic can be attributed primarily to a poorly designed call flow.

"One area that nobody talks about and that I will touch on is call flow, which is probably the most overlooked issue in auto dealerships today in terms of its direct impact on revenue," Nachbahr said. "Fixing a dealership's call flow is like unearthing a golden nugget; it's a simple concept that delivers immediate and tangible results."

Call flow, according to Helion Automotive, is a set of rules that define where every call goes, and how and when those calls get routed somewhere else. Dealerships, Nachbahr said, need to have a set plan for any phone-related issue that arises. Whether that's knowing how many times a phone will ring at a service advisor's desk, where the call will go after that, or what happens if someone direct dials an extension after hours.  

According to Helion Automotive, call flow is a critical issue in auto dealerships because connected calls result in a higher percentage of sales and service appointments. For the sales department, 42% of connected calls result in an appointment. For fixed ops, that number is even higher at 59%, according to Helion Automotive.

"When a customer is transferred into a black hole, or their call is bounced around the dealership, or an extension rings more than six times, there is a high probability that customer is going to hang up and never call back," Nachbahr said. "For dealers, that's a huge percentage of customers they're losing due to an issue they've probably given little thought to."