Telephone Systems for Auto Repair Shops

telephone systems

What kind of telephone system does your auto repair shop use? Many smaller shops use the traditional, landline phone systems that we are all familiar with. How do on-premise phone systems differ from hosted telephone systems, and how can expanded telephone features help a shop’s marketing and bottom line? 

On-premise Telephone Systems 

An on-premise system is the type of system we are all familiar with using since companies began investing in more than just a stand-alone telephone connected to an answering machine. With this type of system, the shop either owns or leases the system, and all of the data is kept onsite. Lower tech versions of these systems typically offer options for call transfer, conference calling, extension dialing, and voice messaging. 

Landline telephone systems are often very simple, although on-premise systems can be quite complex. Many other UC features like instant messaging, video calling, and web and audio conferencing exist for businesses that want to take advantage of them. More robust on-premise phone systems will require a server on site. The business is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the system over time. Often businesses choose to hire outside IT support for this task.

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Hosted Telephone Systems

Virtual or hosted telephone systems are cloud based systems. With these systems, the only hardware on the premises are the physical telephones themselves and a network PoE switch. The servers that the phone system runs on are stored in a data center off site and connected to the hosted phone system by the internet.

The largest difference between hosted telephone systems and on-premises systems is how money is invested. Hosted systems will have a lower cost upfront. The shop will have to pay to have it configured and also a monthly ongoing expense for using the service. With an on-premise system, the shop owns the physical hardware and the data, but it’s responsible for making it work and keeping it operational and up to date.

Both systems can offer expanded telephone features, but a hosted system will tend to upgrade over time without additional investment from their customers. The hosting company will expand its technology over time to remain competitive, offering more features subject to pricing changes. 

Useful Telephone System Features

There are a number of telephone system features that can make a difference to auto shop staff and to the effectiveness of the shop’s marketing overall. A good telephone system:

  • Is easily manageable by the office staff and simple for all staff to use.
  • Keeps detailed records that will allow the shop to compile statistics on call volume per hour, and keep data on abandoned calls.
  • Integrates with shop management software so that service advisors can see customer profiles and lead sources based on the caller ID.
  • Increases call coverage so that customers reach a real person instead of being instructed to leave a message during a situation where they need service urgently.
  • Offers clear and reliable call quality instead of static and dropped calls.
  • Allows the shop to record a customizable message that will play when customers are on hold. This can vary from announcing special promotions to giving customers useful and educational information.
  • Connects seamlessly with multiple locations. 

Having a flexible telephone system that meets all of your shop’s needs is a great way to increase effective communication between your staff and your customers. The goal of all customer service is not to answer questions, it’s to convert those interactions into sales and sales into loyal customers. As such, optimized use of telephone systems should be incorporated into your shop’s marketing

Does your auto shop use an on-premise system or a hosted phone system? How does your system help you communicate with your customers or increase sales? Does your telephone system help you fine tune your marketing? Please share your experiences with your telephone system’s functionality and whether it’s been a good return on your investment either here or in our forums. The feedback you offer will help other owners and managers to make better decisions about their options for telephone systems. 

 

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Responses

  1. I’ve been using Ring Central for the last 6 yrs or so, it has worked well (much better than Comcast’s VOIP offering) and they’ve kept updates for new features rolling out. That said, I’m not a phone/IT expert and could use more simplified support and tutorials using their system (They forget that smaller businesses typically don’t know the terms and abbreviations for the Phone industry). The auto-attendant feature is great, and they have even more advanced features if I just had the time to train myself in another industry 😉
    I may be switching over to a smaller local VOIP company(https://www.thetelephoneman.us/) this year as they can offer more personalized service with the same features for about the same price or possibly a bit less.

    I’ll also 2nd J. Larry Bloodworth’s statement – the best system in the world can’t overcome poor internal training and the right people on the phone.

  2. Randy Lucyk is right on target. He realizes the power of the phone.

    I’ve had more phone systems than I care to count; both on-premise, cloud, and VoIp. I’m going to take this conversation in an opposite direction because my experience is different from whatever phone system a shop may have.

    I’ve had what I believe to be the best phone system(s) in the world. Even with that, when you don’t have professionally trained phone people, the system is a moot point. Imagine this:
    You have the dream phone system.
    Sales lead calls and they are put on terminal hold.
    Misinformation, phone estimates, phone diagnosis, etc…

    The SOLE PURPOSE of a phone lead is to set an appointment. Nothing more, nothing less.

    More, later, in my next post because I don’t want to write a novel.

    J. Larry Bloodworth, CMAT, AAM

  3. It is a little early for me to comment on our latest phone platform purchase(not even delivered yet). I have decided to go with an on-premise ip based “call center” system from Yeastar (Enterprise edition P-series-P550), with Yealink phones .

    It appears that it may finally be able to provide us the data, transparency, ease and speed of use/configuration, I have been looking for in a true UC (unified communications) platform that includes desk phones, pc phones and mobile phones all on the same system. Every phone system provider out there would call this complete over kill for an automotive repair shop. I disagree, in our case.

    We have a fairly large shop, 10,000 sq ft and broken into a tire bays, quicklube bays, service bays, and front area. When everyone is in the store, their are a dozen of us and 6 are able to field phone calls. I am a big fan of lots of pc’s and lots of phones. My “lots of phones” requirement cause me to not be interested in phone platforms that have a “per phone” per month charge. I don’t mind spending money on hardware, but wish to minimize my monthly reoccurring charges to the greatest degree possible.

    We receive 40-110 inbound phone calls a day, from all sources. We have two service advisors for service/tires and one in the quick lube, plus two owners that have previously been backup on the phones, that are now moving offsite, and “may” offer some continued assistance on the phones.

    I have high expectations from this new system and it appears it has the functionalities to deliver. I really want my phone system to understand how busy we are with customers physically in front of us, and adjust strategy accordingly. That seems to be a big wish, when it comes to even the most modern of systems. I have many other expectations as well.

    For a shop our size, few tools in the shop are as important as a customer centric phone system, Imo. I will know after the next several months as to whether this investment has paid off to the degree I expect. I believe it can make up for the missing owners, without having to commit additional payroll. It will also allow service advisors to work offsite, if that need should every return in the future.

  4. We honestly just used Grasshopper. They scaled up and down with us and usually could be set up with whatever we needed. We were also just a small shop, but in my opinion, for the cost, they were absolutely the best option for us. If I was asked to give a complaint, I don’t think I could, for our size.