How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Car Dealership

Samir Sampat

Car dealerships are always aflutter with business, and without a qualified receptionist, you could be missing valuable calls, messages, and other communications. Worse even, your sales team could be wasting precious time on things like scheduling, follow-up calls, and other tasks that take away from their primary role and the time they can spend with their customers on the sales floor. 

Your sales team shouldn’t be stuck at their desks, or even tethered to their phones while they’re on the clock. Even if you think you already have the best solutions in place, perhaps it’s time to reconsider hiring a receptionist or adding more support for your staff. Of course, in doing so, you’ll have a lot of different options and things that you’ll want to consider. 

Today’s consumer is spoiled by technology. They demand instant answers and expect to be able to get the customized support that they need on their schedule, not yours. They want multiple options for reaching out to you, from the phone to social media and everything in between, and they want to know that they won’t have to wait for a response, no matter which channel they choose. 

It may sound like a tall order, but with the right resources, it can be done. A receptionist (or team of them) can free up a lot of your time, streamline a lot of processes, and give that dedicated attention and time to your audience so that they keep coming back. And, it can all be done without anyone knowing that it’s not you behind the front lines, per se, even if you choose to outsource or work with a third-party receptionist service. 

Give your dealership a boost by giving your communications and administrative tasks a better solution. That starts with taking the time to explore the options and see which type of receptionist is right for you. 


Why do I need a dedicated receptionist?


Some dealerships, especially those with a smaller footprint, might think that they don’t need a dedicated receptionist. If there are only three of you in the office anyway, you should be able to handle things because there’s not a lot going on every day. If you do own a busier dealership, a receptionist could be easier to justify. In either case, though, it could be an asset. Why a receptionist? Well, consider that a receptionist can:

  • Answer, route, and manage phone calls 
  • Take messages, check messages, and relay information
  • Manage scheduling and appointments 
  • Organize your physical and virtual office space
  • Streamline tasks and give you more time to dedicate to customers, sales, or other tasks
  • Improve the image of your business 
  • Offer a professional, experienced first point of contact for all
  • Manage social media, including responding to and managing messages and communications
  • Create correspondence and content for newsletters, memos, website content, social media, etc. 

This is just a sampling of all the value that you get when you choose to hire a receptionist. Take the time to consider all the ways you could put this asset to use for your car dealership. Need someone to take payments when you’re not around? Receptionists can do that. Perhaps you want to qualify leads before you bother your sales team? A receptionist can be trained to field those calls, too. 

Ultimately, it’s giving your dealership a Jack-of-all-trades, of sorts, when it comes to communications and administrative tasks. What more could you ask for?


Should I hire someone or outsource?


The biggest benefit of modern technology is the increased access to talent and solutions that we all have. The business world is no longer limited by local talent and having to hire employees to get things done. The Internet has created a dynamic world of outsourcing and third-party services for things like virtual receptionists and assistants. Of course, finding the ideal solution for your dealership includes knowing how to source them. 

If you aren’t sure, ask yourself the following:

  • Can you afford to hire someone? Money’s always a big issue in business. If you’re on a tight budget, you might not have the means to afford a salary, plus the other costs of hiring an employee (we’ll talk about that next). Outsourcing is often a good option for those who want to get a receptionist at a fraction of what they’d spend on a salary, and often without compromising on the solutions they get. 
  • Do you need an employee? Some dealerships just don’t need a payroll employee. They may only need part-time or after-hours receptionist services, or they may just not have the room or need someone in-house to do it. Remote technology makes it easy for receptionists to work from anywhere, so contracting is becoming much more popular. 
  • What kind of solutions do you need? Sometimes, dealerships need a more dynamic solution than what they can get by hiring a single receptionist in-house. This is where a third-party service like the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai could come in handy. You’ll be able to create total communication and admin solutions for less than you expect, and still get more than you could ever imagine. 
  • Do you want better talent at a lower cost? Outsourcing to a contractor or third-party service might give you access to talent that you can’t get locally. Until the Internet and remote work came along, companies were limited to whatever talent they could find locally. Now, you can hire anyone, from anywhere in the world if you really want. 

These are just a few things to keep in mind that will help you decide on the best way to get a receptionist (or a team of them) working for your dealership. Although we can’t tell you exactly what you need, we can help you figure it out for yourself, and these guidelines are a good starting point. 

Now, let’s talk about what it will cost if you do decide to hire someone. 


The cost of a receptionist 


The budget that you need for this investment will vary depending on what type of receptionist or services you need. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact costs associated with hiring a receptionist because there are so many variables involved. However, if you choose to hire an employee for the role, you can expect to spend:

  • Approximately $4,000 for sourcing, hiring, onboarding, and training costs 
  • Any benefits or other perks 
  • Office expenses (overhead, equipment, etc.)

For some dealerships, this is acceptable and part of the growth process. Others might realize that this is all far too much of an investment for what they need. Some may just not have the means to hire an employee because of budgetary constraints. In any case, there are other options. 

This is where some people will realize the value of outsourcing. There’s a place for a receptionist on many dealership payrolls, but in some cases, outsourcing to a third-party service or a contractor could be the better option. For starters, you’ll find a much more dynamic array of services and solutions. You’ll also have an entire team of agents on your side when you choose a third-party service. 

Best of all? Outsourcing can be done for a fraction of what you’d spend on an employee. You won’t pay for benefits, training and hiring, hourly salaries, and other costs. You’ll just pay for the services that you need. This gives you the chance to get a dynamic receptionist solution for much less than you expect and can be the ideal solution for several dealerships. 


Features to look for when hiring a receptionist 


A receptionist does more than just answer phones and take messages. Today, they’re a dynamic part of the office environment and they can deliver several solutions in the areas of communications and administration. Of course, while computer skills and dealership experience are helpful, your focus on finding the right help should be more about the soft skills and personality that you’re getting.

After all, you can train people on computers, software, and company policies. You can’t train someone to have a certain personality. The best receptionists are those who are:

  • Experts at written and verbal communication
  • Able to multitask and take control of situations easily
  • Able to switch gears quickly and without missing a step
  • Friendly, personable, yet professional 
  • Able to solve problems and utilize critical thinking skills on the job
  • Detail-oriented and organized 
  • One step ahead of you in taking care of your dealership’s communications and admin needs

If you hire the wrong people for the job, it will shine through regardless of the training that you provide. You need to have receptionists that are personable, professional, and dedicated to helping people get the answers that they need when they reach out to your dealership. They should be capable of taking charge and willing to do more for you than what they are required, and they should also be able to grow with you as time goes on. 

Think about what you want from a receptionist. Those are the qualities that should be at the top of your list to ensure that you get the right person for the job. 


Hiring FAQs


We’ve covered a lot of information in a short time, so let’s wrap up by going over some common questions and answers related to hiring a receptionist for your car dealership. Some are just for review and others are new information, but they’ll all help you make a better decision about who you’re hiring. 


When should I hire a receptionist? 

If you are asking this question, it’s probably at least worth considering. Do you have admin tasks or communications that are missing the mark? Are you out of time and still need to return calls and handle customer inquiries? You can generally tell when you need a receptionist when you start to get overwhelmed with admin and communications tasks and your dealership can’t handle it alone. 


Do I need to hire someone who knows about cars and car sales?

Experience is always going to be a benefit, but in this case, it’s not a necessity. As long as you hire a receptionist who can deliver answers, field calls, and perform all the other duties that you need, you’ll be making a good choice. They can always learn what they don’t know about cars and car dealerships. The soft skills (like communication, etc.) can’t be as easily learned so look for those first. 


What’s the difference between a virtual receptionist and an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or auto-attendant?

A virtual receptionist is a live person (or persons) that works to field phone calls, messages, and handle other administrative tasks. An auto-attendant or IVR receptionist is a virtual phone system that is totally computerized and automated with no live help present. You can always use an IVR or auto-attendant feature in addition to live support, but having a live person answer the phone is expected by most consumers today. 


Speaking of virtual receptionists, consider the team at Smith.ai for your dealership


You’re in the business of selling cars and trucks, not answering phones, and filing paperwork. And yet, how much time do you catch yourself spending doing the tedious work of scheduling, answering messages, fielding phone calls, and other admin tasks? That’s not your job, and when you partner with the dedicated virtual receptionists at Smith.ai, it doesn’t have to be. 

Our team of experienced agents will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to field phone calls and messages, staff your live chat, handle lead screening and intake, and even help with scheduling, payment collection, and so much more. We’ll also help you create the perfect strategy to manage it all, no matter how big or small your needs may be. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to improve your communications and admin solutions. Or, you can reach out to us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484.


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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