A recent manufacturer study indicated a sharp rise in the chance of selling a customer another vehicle based on the number of times they visit your service department. A single service visit increased that chance by 29 percent. Five visits ratcheted the odds up to 40 percent. Increase service profits and vehicle sales—the best of both worlds!
Is it really that simple? No, because driving the customer back to the service department can be a fairly significant challenge if your staff is not trained properly. Service retention takes effort and more importantly, it takes properly trained individuals to execute it. How much time do you spend developing your service advisors.?
Most manufacturers do a good job of requiring the sales team to pass proficiency tests on product lines. Many dealerships even have daily sales training programs in place, but how many have the same in place for their service advisors?
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to improve your service operation; you just need to implement some “best practices.” It starts with the service appointment. Eliminate the service advisor from the role of booking appointments. The service advisor will often schedule appointments based on his personal agenda instead of shop capacity. If you have a BDC in place, allow the BDC to schedule appointments based on shop capacity. If you do not have a BDC in place, find someone else who can be trained to handle the scheduling instead of the service advisor.
When the customer arrives, the service advisor should have sufficient time to conduct a walk-around of the vehicle, address primary concerns, suggest any maintenance or recall work, and come to an agreement of work to be performed. Additionally, there should be an agreement as to how to contact the customer upon completion or if a question arises during the work.
When the repairs are complete, an active delivery should take place. More and more, an active delivery is one in which the service advisor fulfills the role of the service cashier. The service advisor is the person who’s best equipped to handle any explanation of services or to answer any questions the customer may have regarding the repairs. This leads to a much stronger and more positive customer experience.
Before the customer leaves, schedule his or her next maintenance appointment. It’s no different than your hairdresser. This person knows your hair grows x amount over x time and based on your hairstyle you will need a trim in five weeks. Because of this, your hairdresser asks to set the appointment in five weeks. You might choose four or even six weeks but usually you will schedule at that time and even if you have to reschedule you rarely cancel.
Implement the same practice in your service department. The service advisor has the driving history of the customer and knows the scheduled maintenance, making it easy to calculate when the next service would likely be due. The service advisor can simply say, “Mr. Jones, based on your driving patterns, your vehicle would be due for scheduled maintenance about July 15th. Would you prefer a morning appointment like today?”
Why wait on vehicle sales to dip before you focus your attention on your fixed operations? If you invest in training these valuable individuals in the service department today, you can weather any sales storm on the horizon.
The challenging part is the after sales engineering. Establish an exceptional customer’s service with high standard. Introduce new methods to monitor the customer’s satisfaction survey. Create an up to date Data Base with satisfactory after sales / maintenance standard. Manage department expenses effectively to ensure profitability by using effective control method. Meet and report to higher management, brief and debrief other departments’ heads to maintain cooperative levels. Design programs of training and development in the automotive aftermarket / after sales.
Originally appeared in Automotive Dealer