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Pros & Cons of Business Class VoIP Phone Systems for Car Dealers

What are the top 5 problems with a VoIP phone systems for auto dealers?

We discuss the top 5 problems with a VoIP phone systems for auto dealers.

Making a business decision means being able to identify a problem, look at the solutions, and picking the best one. When it comes to how your car dealership communicates with customers, that’s not always an easy task.

I could be a great salesmen and spend hours talking about all the great features of a VoIP phone system and how it would help your auto dealership, but at the end of the day, it’s the negatives that are going to cause the most second guessing.

Too many times I’ve been sitting in a dealership with owners and upper management when they stop me dead in my tracks and say “don’t tell me all the things that go well, what can go wrong? That’s what I need to know about to avoid making a bad decision!”

It’s something I discuss a lot with potential customers, so let’s dive into and go over the top 5 problems with VoIP phone systems at auto dealers.

Problem 1 – Your computer network is junk.

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. This is without a doubt the biggest issue we see with VoIP phone systems, and the issue is always because the network itself wasn’t designed correctly.

No one wants to sound like their talking into a tin can underwater. In order to avoid this, you MUST use best practices. you need to hire either a VoIP provider, or an IT provider who knows how to setup a network correctly for VoIP.

Unless your dealership has gone through a major renovation and re-cabled all the workstations, most auto dealerships we visit don’t have the proper cabling to run VoIP phone systems separate from computer system. You can either using hardware to re-use existing lines, or rewire your entire dealership.

We recently dealt with a dealership that was dealing with a national provider of VoIP phone systems who shipped them some phones and instructed them to plug them in the network. Obviously this didn’t work out at all. There was call quality issues, network issues, etc. We always tell customers, skip getting your network setup right and you’re destined for failure.

Problem 2 – There’s WAY TOO MUCH tech in a modern car dealership.

An auto dealership’s main goal is to service the client and drive new car sales. In order to do so, they have multiple systems in place. This means knowing how to use various systems, and being tech savvy at the same time.

Add in staff turnover, and the training necessary to keep staff in the loop, and you’re looking at spending a lot of time just to understand how to use the tech at your business.

Simply put, it’s next to impossible to maintain all the systems if they’re too difficult to use. This includes VoIP.  Some VoIP systems are easy to use, some aren’t. If there’s too much tech that’s too difficult to use, and staff turnover is an issue, the dealership will never be able to take advantage of the systems they invested in.

What are the top 5 problems with a VoIP phone systems for auto dealers?

 

Problem 3 – Dealerships want to save money so they skimp out somewhere.

We already addressed not having a property network system setup, but the other big issue we see is car dealerships using an internet connection that’s nowhere near strong or reliable enough for their needs.

You need to factor in the following:

  • Most dealerships offer a customer concierge network. This is the free wifi the customer uses while they wait, causing traffic on your internet connection.
  • Your employees are actively using the internet, whether on laptops or tablets or smartphones, for sales, lead generation or nurturing, or for helping to run your business, again causing traffic on your internet connection.
  • While the needs of VoIP are pretty meager, it does need a consistent, reliable internet connection. If your existing internet connection is pushed to the limit currently, VoIP could push it over the edge.

I like to tell customers that VoIP is like the canary in the coal mine. If your internet connection (or network) is having issues, the first thing that you’ll notice is a decline in the quality of your VoIP phone system.

No one wants to go broke because of their phone bills, but at the same time you need to spend money to make sure you have the right internet connection for VoIP service.

Problem 4 – The proprietary nature of CRM & DMS systems.

Many dealerships want us to work with their CRM or DMS, or possibly even service scheduling system. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Dealertrack
  • Reynolds and Reynolds
  • ADP or CDK
  • Xtime

Sometimes this is easier said than done. Certain CRM programs simply cannot integrate with VoIP systems. Conversely some VoIP systems cannot be integrated easily. This goes back to the issue of having too much technology at an auto dealership. If your tools that are supposed to help you do your job easier aren’t talking to each other, then it’s actually making your job harder.

Sometimes getting a VoIP system and a CRM or DMS to talk to each other is easy, other times it’s impossible. This is something we look at on a case by case basis and we would work with the customer to make sure they’re getting the best possible solution to fit their needs.

Problem 5 – Many national tech providers don’t have local installation and service.

Instead, you’re buying a phone system from a national provider who outsources their installation and support services to 3rd party consultants. That is, if they’re outsourcing anything at all!

What they’re doing is shipping phones to a dealership and relying on an inexperienced IT guy to get things set up and going. Remember the guy in problem #1 who had a bad network and their phone’s weren’t working great? This is a classic example of a national level provider over promising and under delivering.

I like to call this the plug & pray method. While I’m a man of faith, you shouldn’t have to resort to prayer when it comes to the call quality of your phone system at your business.

But aside from the initial setup, most national providers do not provide any sort of onsite training? Once you get things up and running (assuming they are in fact up and running), can you easily use & operate the tech you purchased?

Sometimes you’ll need additional training 3 to 6 months down the road due to staff turn over, or just general understanding of the technology. Remember, this is a piece of tech, just like anything else in your office. You’ll need to understand how to fully use it in order to get the most out of it.

The cold hard truth is that additional training is a fact of life. If you don’t stay on top of training, you’re not going to get the most bang for your buck. Your training, just like your phone system, has to be simple, easy to use, and you need to be able to get support easily.

BONUS! – Does CDK “got you by the calls”?

A lot of dealers we see use CDK as a one stop solution for all their needs. We get it, it’s really nice to have everything under one room. At the same time however, when we see this we also see a higher level of issues.

The truth is no one is an expert at everything. In the case with CDK, they’re going to do everything well, but not great, meaning you’re using an OK system for the same price, if not more, than someone who is an expert with VoIP technology.

The other issue is CDK literally “has you by the calls” and makes it very, very hard to unbundle your services. They might control DMS payments, your computer network, and phone network. In other words, you’re held hostage, aka they “got you by the calls.”

If you’re using CDK, this is a tricky thing to deal with if you’re looking to get out and jump providers, and we recommend talking with a VoIP provider who really understands the ins and outs of your industry and the challenges you face.

What’s the phone system at your auto dealership like now?

Are you relying on phone services from 3rd parties? Here’s something we see a lot, that usually doesn’t work:

  • The initial installation done with a contractor who has no dog in the fight. He shows up, does what he has to do, and is out. That’s it.
  • Your support is YOUR IT guy. He has to know the network, the hardware, the admin backend, the phones themselves, the softphones, etc. etc.
  • You have to call into a call center which is God knows where to actually talk to someone for customer service. Sure you might have an “account rep” but what can they really do in a timely manner for your fast paced business? We’ve seen support that takes 45+ minutes for a general ticket cleared. This doesn’t work!

Also, when it comes to traditional phone providers, there’s so many add ons and extra fees that are outrageous. So many dealerships are forced to buy ancillary software that sits on top of the traditional phone system that allows them to do what they wanna do. This is an expensive, outdated, and antiquated way of doing business.

To learn more about implementing a VoIP phone system at your dealership, and the various ways it can help your business, click here to contact us online, or give me a call at (908) 378-1217.

By Damon Finaldi
President, Tele-Data Solutions
E-mail: damon@tele-datasolutions.com | Direct Line: (908) 378-1217
I’m the general manager at Tele-Data Solutions. I love helping my customers and creating the best working environment for my team members to grow and to thrive. I grew up with the telecom business and have seen the evolution of phones—from the analog world to IP—and the huge positive impact it can have on a business.