What’s driving customers to your fixed ops?
Everyone who buys a car from you is a potential service customer and, therefore, a potential life-long customer. But what is going on to drive customers to your service department?
For example, how easy is it to book a service appointment online? Is someone proactively helping this happen? Although the manufacturer may be providing general messaging, because the customer has a closer relationship with a personal dealer, that customer is more likely to respond to the dealer’s messaging.
There should also be a confirmation, with perhaps a calendar invite, and a reminder the day before—maybe from the Service Advisor.
If your dealership has a drive-thru, it’s a pillar of your service department. Your messaging needs to address that, including communications like fixed AdWords campaigns. These should always go back to your service pillars. But what are these pillars? There may need to be a brainstorming session with the owner and fixed ops, to determine how and where your dealership differentiates itself on service.
Let’s start with safety. Your service department only services your brand, and your mechanics are accredited for that brand. You don’t use aftermarket products, only OEM parts. You do this because if a customer’s vehicle should (hopefully not!) have a collision, the vehicle is as safe as it can be. The vehicle is ready for it, and your messaging should flaunt the safety aspect.
Some dealers have plaques at the top of each bay with the technician’s name, how long he’s been working, and all of his/her accreditations. That makes customers feel secure and trusting about who’s working on their vehicle.
The physical aspects of the drive-thru need to be addressed. Is it clean? Is it heated or air conditioned? Is there messaging on the door? It should be an inviting environment, where a mother and her child can feel comfortable. No dust, clutter, or offensive odours.
The service advisor should greet the customer and do a walkaround. There should be a wholesome conversation— has the customer noticed anything since the last appointment?
The advisor should be well dressed, with a clean uniform. Make sure the advisor has all the technology necessary to do the job. When the advisor is looking at the screen, looking at the customer profile, is he/she linked to everyone in that family? There may be more than one vehicle. Is all the information available and up to date?
Always include questions in that conversation. How is the vehicle driven? A car that’s driven for a five-minute commute gets serviced differently than a vehicle with an hour commute. In addition to the manufacturer’s recommendations, the vehicle should be serviced depending on how it’s used. And remember to talk about what may be required for the next appointment, so the customer can feel prepared.
Everyone who answers the phone should be confirming that names, addresses, phone numbers and emails are accurate. For example, if someone’s been divorced and their details have changed, you want that on file, so you don’t make an uncomfortable mistake.
Speaking of technology, what do you have in your service drive? Is there a machine that can do alignment checks, battery checks, tire condition reports? It generates a report card that is very credible. It stays with the customer, and every time they return, they get a new one. Again, it helps with future expectations.
Your drive-thru should have POP that can educate and sell the customer. An easy sell is wiper replacement, or an educational piece could be why they need to change cabin air filters. Manufacturers often can provide this material.
Another educational message could be about how your service department is working to reduce its carbon footprint. Those pieces of plastic that get placed in a vehicle to protect it during service should be recyclable, or washable. Talk about that, or about how the car wash uses recycled water, how fluids and packaging are recycled, or about how you’re ISO certified. Let your customers know that you’re operating in an environmentally friendly way.
Think like a customer
Service is a great opportunity to do small, thoughtful things that will stick with a customer and differentiate your store—like having a mat wash. Customers know that dirt gets tracked in, and other pollutants swirl in through open windows. They’ll appreciate that special service.
Where do they leave their keys? There’s a kiosk from stormkiosks.com, which works like a vending machine. Customers can drop off their cars and register their keys within the kiosk. This also acts as a pick-up, where a payment can be made, and keys with the invoice are received. It’s safe, it’s secure, it’s convenient.
Think like the customer, who has spent a significant amount of his/her salary every year for this vehicle. The customer cleans and cares for it, pampers it. It’s practically like a member of the family. It needs to be treated right. How easy is it to take three seconds to put some Windex on a rag and clean the inside of a window? That’s what your customers will notice and remember, encouraging them to come back again and again.