Save Customers, Save Deals, Save Money

Call monitoring system helps Rick Case save deals, make better ad decisions


It is a well known fact that dealerships spend a lot of money on advertising to generate leads and make the phone ring. Too often, however, dealership representatives who answer the phone, regardless of department, mishandle customers and not only lose deals for today, but potentially lose customers for life, not to mention jeopardize their reputation. While dealerships have come a long way with tracking advertising sources by attaching trackable toll-free 800 numbers to each ad to determine which mediums generate the best customer response, dealers still are not doing enough to monitor and verify how calls are handled by their own staff or how effectively they convert calls into profitable customers.


That is not so for Rick Case Honda of Davie, Florida. “We spend a lot of money to make the phone ring so we wanted to make sure every single customer was handled the right way,” says Richard Bustillo, general manager of Rick Case Honda, one of the top Honda dealers in the world. Rick Case has every one of their calls monitored and their managers receive alerts to their cell phones whenever a customer is mishandled. “If we get an alert we listen to the call first, then we call the customer and more times than not we save a deal, solve a CSI problem, avoid a lawsuit, and most importantly win over a customer.”


Rick Case Enterprises has always been fanatical about customer service and doing the right thing for our customers. “We spend a lot of  money to optimize the number of calls our stores receive, and it gives me great peace of mind to know that every single call is being monitored and should anything go wrong our skilled management team is alerted in real-time so they can immediately contact the customer and make things right. Our phone handling is the first measurement of our customer’s experience” says Jack Jackintelle, president of the Rick Case Auto Group, “and how we interact with our community is my number one priority”


Saving Lost Deals


Rick Case Honda has always asked their management team to listen to all the recorded inbound calls, but the effort proved to be mathematically impossible. The Davie-based dealership averages 120 sales appointments per weekend. By the time a gap opened up in the weekly schedule to catch up on reviewing calls it was too late to save deals or repair CSI concerns. Sporadic spot checks also proved ineffective, because it meant that for the few that were actually reviewed and responded to in a timely manner, the majority of calls went unchecked and lost.


Today every single inbound call is monitored, reviewed, transcribed, and reported. Real-time text and email alerts are sent for matters needing immediate attention within minutes so management can respond right away. Daily reports are emailed to management each morning by 8:30 and each manager has a dedicated online portal that continuously updates in real-time the calls that come in to each profit center, and resolutions are posted upon completion to ensure every opportunity is addressed.


“Our monitoring system has proven to be invaluable. We measure ROI on everything we do and the alerts we get save us 50-70 customers a month,” explains Bustillo.


Mistakes that Ad-Tracking Numbers Make


The call monitoring has increased Rick Case’s appointments and has helped them spend their advertising budget more effectively with mediums that generate the most appointments. “Without listening to calls you can’t accurately track what ad sources work well, because many consumers will view the paper or a mailer, visit the dealer’s website and then call the 800 number on the site. The dealer thinks the source is the website when in reality it was the print campaign that generated the call,” explains Chip King, president of, the call monitoring company Rick Case uses. By monitoring and reporting on their calls, it became evident when reports read: customer calls, “I am looking at your newspaper ad and I have questions about the Accord you have for sale for $199/month,” despite the fact that the call came in on the website number, it was actually generated from the newspaper ad source. Now Rick Case’s ad tracking is more accurate and helps them make smart marketing decisions.


The most important number to track is not how many calls each ad source generates, but how many appointments are set. Two ad sources could generate a hundred calls, one source has a 50 percent appointment rate and the other a 25 percent rate, thus half the total appointments. Effectively one ad generates 50 appointments and the other generates 25. “Taking a closer look and tracking appointments gives Rick Case real results and helps them spend money on what gets better results. It is more effective to judge advertising by appointments set than on calls generated, because actual appointments indicate a better return on investment,” adds King.


Profit Leaks Identified by Listening to Calls


By listening to all their calls, Rick Case was able to identify, troubleshoot, and correct many problem areas including new car sales calls never reaching an agent or hanging up while on hold, calls beingsent to voicemail of which half elected to leave no message, sales agents failing to identify themselves, sales agents failing to get contact information from caller, connected calls being ‘off-lined’ for a call back, a low percentage of sales calls resulting in appointments, appointments being set with no time or date specified or being set for future dates, and failure to create a pleasant and positive impression with the primary call handler. By monitoring all their calls Rick Case identified and resolved these issues and continues to monitor all their calls so they can track the effectiveness of their ads, people, processes and phone system.


John Zeiglar is a performance consultant from Performance Company. For more information, please email





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