How To Improve Your Car Count in Four Minutes or Less

It was the worst recording of an incoming phone call that I’d ever heard. It was so bad that I was sure Ashton Kutcher would appear to confirm that the call was really fake and I was being “punk’d” as a surprise guest on his hidden camera reality show!

“Linda,” who drove a Toyota Camry, called the shop with a simple request. She wanted to know how much a rear brake job would cost her. Linda was placed on hold six different times until finally “Rob,” the new service advisor picked up the line.

The call appeared to take a turn for the better as he asked if she was a first-time customer. Rob then asked Linda for her name and phone number in case they got disconnected.

Next, I could hear his smile as he told her about the shop’s hours of operation and loaner vehicles. I listened to the recording with renewed optimism until Rob uttered the following words: “Ma’am, I just got back from this ATI class and they told me that I can’t give you a price over the phone!”

This four-minute phone call resulted in Linda taking her Camry to the competitor. Had this been handled differently, the shop owner would have improved his car count by one vehicle.

Have you been looking for the one idea that will instantly improve your car count? Your search ends today because here it is: Make it as easy as possible for the caller to come to your shop

Studies of consumer trends in the automotive industry have concluded that 68% of customers call first before visiting the shop.

The average phone call is four minutes or less, so you are only minutes away from improving today. Stay with me to learn two strategies to help you get the most out of those minutes.

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies to increase car count, improve your bottom-line, and grow your business in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at

Pay Attention

As I have stated in a previous post, for every 100 service writers that we phone shop here at ATI, only 4 offer to make the customer an appointment to visit their location. Whenever I phone shop someone who fails to offer the appointment, the most common response I receive is: “Eric, I had two customers standing in front of me and two other phone lines ringing when you called.”

So, how can you make it easy for the incoming caller, without irritating the customer in front of you? The key is to pay attention.

The best way to service both your calling and current customer is to get the name and phone number of the caller and call them back when you can pay attention.

What happens in most shops is the advisor rushes through the transaction with both customers leaving out key elements of the relationship process.

Therefore, getting the caller’s name and number, along with providing the promise to call back, will result in a passing phone shop grade from ATI.

The “perfect world answer” is to immediately execute the phone script as soon as the customer calls. I get it. The callback strategy is to be used during those instances when you know your attention will be divided.

There is a famous Romanian proverb that states: “if you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one.” Paying attention will keep you from losing both customers.

Play the Recording

The HBO network has a hit show called Hard Knocks. This show provides the viewer with a glimpse of “a typical day in the life” at a National Football League training camp.

There are cameras that follow the coaches around as they communicate with their team, during practice sessions. Quite often, a coach gives a player feedback on some aspect of his performance that could have been improved.

On one episode, the coach told the quarterback “You dropped your head when you saw the pass rush coming.” To which the player replied, “I didn’t do that!”

Later the scene shifts to the film room with the player and coach watching the film recording of that day’s practice session. The quarterback watched the film with a look of shame as he saw that he dropped his head just like his coach told him.  The coach summed up what he saw with the following words: “The eye in the sky doesn’t lie.”

Everyone is blind to certain aspects of their job performance. This makes “the eye in the sky” a valuable tool. When coaching your service advisor’s phone performance, the audio recording is like your “ear” in the sky

It will tell you the unfiltered and unbiased story of how your phones are being answered. It’s one thing for you to tell your advisor, “You didn’t offer the appointment on that last call.” The accountability increases, however, when he listens to the recording for himself and says, “I didn’t offer the appointment.” Playing the recording can keep you from feeling the hard knocks that come with a low car count!


So, there you have it. paying attention and playing the recording can improve your car count in four minutes or less. Will I feel like I’ve been “punk’d” after listening to one of your calls?

Non-ATI Members: For more tips on how to achieve specific results and run a productive, profitable shop, check out our shop owner events at