Creating an Appointment Culture – Part 15
TRANSCRIPT: The second step to the Perfect Appointment is something we call appropriate appointment confirmation. Appropriate appointment confirmation is a tough process to write about because, really, every appointment can have a different confirmation process depending on how far out the appointment is set. The goal is the same as it is for strong appointment setting, which is an appointment that shows. You are going to use your head as well as your gut to find something that makes sense.
Every appointment needs a confirmation except one. That is the prospect that is across the street or across town at another dealership. They saw your vehicle on their smart phone, and they want to see if it is in stock. They are going to be at your dealership in five or ten minutes. You will still make the appointment because you will still need to do the pre-appointment prep and the VIP treatment, but you need not confirm this appointment. It would seem a bit silly to go over with them the time and date of the appointment and what car they will test-drive when they are going to be there in five or ten minutes. You already have a specific day and time and a specific goal, so you get the verbal commitment and hang up. It would also be silly if your manager got on the phone two minutes later to confirm that the appointment is coming. That is the one appointment that doesn’t need confirmation. All other appointments need some kind of confirmation. Again, use your gut and be sure that you don’t spam because you have one goal here: To get an appointment that shows, right?
You want to have a thank you confirmation, hopefully by email, with all of the particulars about the appointment. That means the date and time and state the goal again. If your dealership is hard to find, you may want to include a map, or if you have a special parking area for your appointments, you will show that. It should be a thank you for setting the appointment, so this becomes another confirmation that it is going to happen.
You also want to make at least one phone call either the day before or the day of the appointment. That depends on the time of the appointment. Again, you need to use your gut. If the appointment is at 9:00 and you open at 9:00, you want to call them the day before to confirm they will be in tomorrow at 9:00. It is a little silly to call at 8:00 the morning of the appointment because they could be asleep, or they may be at home rushing around. You need to decide the best time to make that phone call. You need to make sure that the customer feels guilty if they no-show. That is the whole idea with a confirmation call. Your call could sound something like, “Mrs. Jones, just so you know, we will have the vehicle pulled up, cleaned, filled with gas, and ready to go. You will be able to go on your test-drive within five minutes of arriving at our dealership. If anything happens to us, we will be sure and let you know well in advance. By the way, since we are doing so much to get ready for this appointment, we would appreciate it if you would show us the same courtesy.” This way, Mrs. Jones will feel guilty if she is going to no-show. In fact, she will call us in advance. Your appointment- to- show ratio should be one hundred percent except for people that call you in advance to tell you that they will not be there.
By the way, managers should make every confirmation call. The reason that managers need to make this call is twofold. One, it creates a firmer commitment in the prospect’s mind. Number two, but just as important, is that your team is setting soft appointments today. If they know a manager is going to call to make that confirmation call, they are going to set stronger appointments. Let’s say the manager calls the prospect and says, “Mrs. Jones, it is Steve Stauning calling from Century Toyota. I am just confirming that you have got an appointment this evening at 5:15. We can’t wait to see you. You are going to love the Camry…What?” The prospect does not know what the manager is saying because there was never verbal or mental commitment on her part. So, when the manager makes that call, you can get to the bottom of those issues before you go through the whole pre-appointment preparation only to have Mrs. Jones no-show.
All no shows should be investigated at the time of the scheduled appointment. For example, an appointment was scheduled for Barbara Jones at 2:00. At that time the manager at the sales desk looks around and doesn’t see anyone at the appointment desk, and they still have the keys for the test drive sitting at the desk. The manager wants to know where she is. He will have the sales person call her right at 2:00. You may wonder why you don’t wait a bit before you call the prospect. The reason for this is because every minute counts at this point. She is late to this appointment, so you will call to say, “Hey, just calling to see if you are going to make it today.” However you want to say that, but what you are going to find out is that she is across the street at the Honda dealer. She is in the box about to sign, so unless you call right at the scheduled time, it will be too late. If you call tomorrow, she will have already bought the car. If you call right at the time of the appointment, you can say, “Listen, Barbara, put the pen down. The Honda Accord is a great vehicle, but come across the street. Please keep your appointment with us. Test drive the Camry. Then, if you decide to buy the Accord, go back across the street to buy it.”
You will not make this happen unless you call her prior to her signing that paperwork.