I asked a friend why she loyally had a local dealership service her car. She quickly replied, “Personalized experience and peace of mind.”
Citing expert technicians and white-glove attention, she added, “It might cost more, but they make it a convenient and pleasant experience. They get me in and out quickly, while still taking the time to listen and get to know me.”
Customers value good service. Meet both their vehicle and personal needs and they will reward you with loyalty.
Unfortunately, many dealerships today haven't mastered a balance between vehicle repair and customer care, failing to differentiate themselves from the neighborhood quick lube or independent garage.
Today, nearly 70% of new car buyers defect from the dealership's service department before they purchase their next vehicle.
So how do you balance car repair and customer care? By taking a close look at your service processes and making them customer friendly at each step.
The following seven-step selling process addresses both the technical and human aspects of service operations. Adopting them can improve your dealership's service experience while boosting profitability and customer retention.
1. Greet and Meet to Set the Tone
It's the morning rush. First appointments are arriving, phones are ringing, and a tow truck is pulling in. Suddenly, the service advisors are outnumbered. Sound familiar? Make sure your dealership is staffed properly to promptly greet customers. The first interaction sets the tone for the entire visit. Have a process in place to get customers in and out quickly.
2. Identify the Primary Need
Listen closely to the customer and show them that you care. Their testimony may be crucial to an accurate diagnosis. Also, perform a walk-around of their car. Use this face time to identify any additional needed repair and maintenance such as chemical flushes, tires replacements, oil changes and windshield repairs.
3.-4. Propose Solutions/Present Options
These two work together. The key is to involve the customer and give them options.
Let's say a customer has brought in a car for a repair and oil change. You've determined the repair requires a part that's out of stock. Call the customer and explain the processes for the next steps to re-set their time expectation based on the availability of the part.
For the oil change, you might present them with the following service menu:
“We offer several options. We have a $13.99 oil change that uses a generic oil and filter, or a $21.95 service with a manufacturer's recommended oil and filter. Or for $34.95 we can include a tire rotation.”
Present them with bronze, silver and gold options. (By the way, most take the middle one.)
5. Sell Features and Benefits
Take time to educate customers. The better they understand the features and benefits of your proposed service, the more business you will earn. Don't just tell them that they need a transmission fluid flush. Explain that it should be changed periodically because dirty fluid can damage and diminish the life of a vehicle's transmission. Then talk price.
6. Under Promise and Over Deliver
The biggest mistake a dealership can make is to over promise and under deliver. It's guaranteed dissatisfaction. Instead, tell a customer their car will be ready by 5 p.m. and impress them by having it ready at 3 p.m.
7. Provide Jewelry-Box Delivery
When your customer returns for pick up, this is your opportunity to differentiate your dealership. Add value to keep them coming back. Whether it's a vacuumed car, discounts for the next scheduled maintenance or a free car wash, reinforce that you value their business and want to see them back.
Today, dealerships can average 70% profit per service ticket. With warranty work in decline and incentives and interest rates on the rise, you can't afford to overlook this profit center. Balance car repair with customer care and watch your bottom line improve.
Leigh Jackson is a consulting practice leader for Reynolds and Reynolds Co. He successfully ran several dealerships before joining Reynolds.