How to Overcome Inventory Shortages by Mastering the Phone

Overcome Inventory Shortages by Mastering 3 Simple Phone Handling Strategies

Master capturing every lead with soft phone skills, overcoming roadblocks and dominating next steps of setting firm appointments.

Customers are investing more time online now than ever. Because of low vehicle inventories, most customers are scouring the internet, going from dealership sites to third-party sites searching for the car of their dreams. This not only leads to more internet traffic, but also more phone calls. In fact, there has been a 15.23% increase in call volume per dealership location in the past year as these customers search for every opportunity to find their elusive dream car.

Now, how many of those customers are you actually inviting into your dealership to test drive a car and continue their buying journey with you? In 2020, an average of 61.4% of customers were invited in. In 2021, however, that number dropped to 59.0%. Every single caller asking about your inventory should be invited in. Master capturing every lead with soft phone skills, overcoming roadblocks and dominating next steps of setting firm appointments.

Soft Phone Skills

A phone call is the customer’s first impression of your dealership. If it’s handled poorly, customers will happily move on to the next dealer on their list. Make sure you are providing a superior customer experience by having a phone process in place and being personable over the phone. Just like meeting the parents, starting a new job or trying a new hole-in-the-wall restaurant, first impressions matter when buying a car.

As soon as a customer dials your line, send them to a phone bridge. This will reduce hold times by getting them directly to the department needed. If the agent they are calling to speak to is busy, be sure to write down their name, number, vehicle they called about and their question so the agent can get back to them promptly with answers. Many dealers fall in the trap of sounding monotone as they get caught in their routine. Instead, answer the phone with a smile and utilize proper greetings that build rapport and excitement with the customer. After your personable greetings, make sure to invite them in.


Lack of inventory is a common roadblock agents are currently facing. Trying to invite a customer into the dealership when the car they are looking for is not on your lot can be difficult. Overcome this by suggesting they test drive a similar vehicle or an older model. Then, let them know you will give them a call as soon as they receive the car they are looking for or one that matches their needs. Even so, most customers buy a different car than the one they originally came in for. Once you get the customer into your dealership, the agent then has the opportunity to suggest alternatives available that match the customer’s needs and make a potential sale.

Setting Firm Appointments

While requesting and inviting 100% of callers into your dealership may be challenging, it should be a goal. Once inviting in every potential buyer becomes a habit, next steps become natural. Setting firm appointments will increase the likelihood of customers actually showing up. Prepping for a customer to come in who ends up being a no-show is frustrating. On average, 75% of customers who agree to a firm appointment (ie: Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.) vs. a soft appointment (ie: Saturday morning) will show up. This means instead of suggesting they come in later in the day or week, you should select exact times of the day – 3:30 p.m. – and days of the week – Tuesday.

Utilizing these three tips to get customers into your dealership will help you convert more leads. By implementing soft phone skills, overcoming the lack of inventory roadblock and always setting firm appointments, your agents will turn the phone into your biggest strength. This will impact your dealership’s bottom line and provide an outstanding customer buying journey.

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