Service Menus Boost Business

Service menus are the most effective sales tools for your service and parts departments. So I'm surprised at the number of stores that don't have them. When I ask why not, I usually get the following excuses: I'm working on them. I don't have the time to develop them. I have a vendor who provides them free of charge and I'm still waiting for them. I haven't decided what schedule to recommend. I haven't

Service menus are the most effective sales tools for your service and parts departments. So I'm surprised at the number of stores that don't have them. When I ask why not, I usually get the following excuses:

  • “I'm working on them.”
  • “I don't have the time to develop them.”
  • “I have a vendor who provides them free of charge and I'm still waiting for them.”
  • “I haven't decided what schedule to recommend.”
  • “I haven't seen a format I like.”

Your service department can sell parts and services without a service menu, but using one ensures that all your services are being offered consistently to all your clients. They probably won't buy a service they don't need, but they definitely can't buy what's not offered.

It does not take 60-70 hours to create a smart-looking service menu. e-mail me at [email protected] and I will send you some templates. Consider the following before you start:

  1. Your service menu must be credible

    Many service operations have done a great job in running their service clients off because they pressure them to buy services the dealership made up to benefit the financial performance of the service department instead of helping the client protect a car investment. Good service menus sell the must important commodity you have: your credibility.

  2. Maintenance recommendations

    When the manufacturers changed their maintenance recommendations to the current simplified procedures, it created a flood of manager complaints about the loss of business and the decrease in “hours per repair order.” The attitude was: “Look at what the manufacturers have done to us.” Few dealers went to work to find another way to market their service business.

    To maximize your credibility, your recommendations should come directly from the owner's manual. Pull an owner's manual from a new car folder and review the maintenance book. It recommends many services not listed on the manufacturer's website.

    Cadillac is a great example. The owner's manual recommends the replacement of seat filters (yes, seat filters) on some models. Make sure everything in the owner's manual is on your menu.

  3. Itemize Your Prices

    List services separately to show how your store has arrived at the total price. Package deals are not needed; they tend to cheapen your brand. Your prices must be perceived as competitive. By listing the price for each service separately, the client can compare.

    Complete a pricing survey of your competitors before you finalize your menu. Be aware that most of your competitors are on to the calls to compare prices. Don't assume that the price offered on the phone is the price the customer will finally pay. Many places use coupons that reduce the final price.

  4. Create a professional appearance

    Trying to save money with a photocopy of a photocopy is a waste of time. If you are not going to create a menu in a professional fashion, you are better off not doing it at all.

    The paper needs to be heavier stock than copy paper. The fonts should be professional looking. My recommendation is to develop your own service menu. If a vendor offers to provide them for “free”, there probably is a catch. Spend the $500 or so, and get them done right.

    As I said, a service menu is the most effective sales tool for your parts and service departments. But it is so much more than that.

    It is also a merchandising tool, a new- and used-car sales tool, a dealership image-building tool and a client confidence-building tool. It gives your dealership credibility.

    It tells your service clients you are willing to put into print the prices they will be charged.

    Most importantly, it's a tool that challenges the undesirable brand our industry has been given: “Dealer Prices.”

Lee Harkins, president of ATcon in Birmingham, AL, is a dealership management consultant and industry speaker. He is at 800-692-2719 and [email protected]

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