If You’re Living By Service…Don’t Die By Service

We don't touch on service much here…time for a little breather!

More dealers than ever are floating (or simply sinking slower) on the revenue from their service department. This trend should be supported with an overwhelming conviction to completely satisfy customers. The risk is just too large to lose clients both on the front and the back end of the store.

Things being what they are, it should come as no surprise that achieving such a goal is as far away as the next 20 walk-in customers. Equally as daunting, many service directors have had their budgets and discount capabilities slashed when exactly the opposite should be done. At the same time, it would be great to report that at least some budget has been thrown over to the web for marketing. But the jury that we could ask on that one was laid off.

Folks, don't kick the gift of traffic in the mouth! By the same token, don't give away the farm either. Instead live by balance, planning (yes, plan ahead, execute on the plan and don't change the ding-dang plan) and accountability. Make sure that your service marketing completely and clearly explains the benefits of servicing at your dealership, tangible perks (VIP club, fixed pricing or discounts, upgraded loaners, pick-up/drop-off, etc), guarantees and anything else that puts you up a level.

Get your customers to write up their positive experiences (and to offset the bad ones) on sites like DealerRater, CarFolks, MyDealerReport, Yelp, Google, etc. Provide maintenance clinics at your store (since you're already doing new owner events every one to three months, right?) to help your customers get more for their money and feature your parts and accessories. And then set up service scheduling on your site to make it easier for your customers (TimeHighway, XTime, UDC, MyCarPage).

This is not rocket science, it's customer sense. Over the past two days I've been told about two completely different examples related to service departments:

One via a friend in Michigan talking about his BMW. The service light came on, he called the dealership 30 miles away and the service writer informed him how to avert the visit (the 'fix' worked). He could have still had my friend drive to the dealership, get a complimentary inspection, spend time at the store with -insert a salesperson's name here-, and sent on his way with a $30+ charge. Instead they created a customer for life (with the exception that the service writer didn't get his email/text address, log the call in the CRM and create a GREAT follow up for the event).

The other you'll have to read for yourself here on Edmunds' Inside Line which is just plain astonishing.

Now is the time to go the extra mile, not cut off a few inches. There's nothing worse than stepping over a dollar to pick up a penny. Do what it takes to deliver the best experience everywhere in your dealership. And start with your next customer…

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

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