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My new free eBook, "Winning the Waiting (Room) Game" just came out, and while it's targeted to auto aftermarket/repair shops, I see a lot of similarities for auto dealership waiting areas. Where I worked @ Ford in NorCal, there was no waiting room. There were 2 facing couches outside my office, in the middle of the floor (high traffic), right outside the sales fishbowl. Not the most ideal setup.
So I created this eBook with the auto industry in mind. There are certain things people seem to be happy to wait for: the perfect table at Nobu, Cabbage Patch Dolls, anything Apple releases, the touring company of “Jersey Boys” to hit their local theater. While you can’t ever expect your customers are going to eagerly camp out in front of your auto repair shop’s doors just to get the hottest new oil change supplies, you can make the experience a little better for them by making it as short as possible.
Pay it forward: Everyone’s heard of pizza companies' “30 minutes or it’s free” promise, and now cable companies are getting into the “2 hour window or we’ll pay you $20” game. Make the same offer to your customers and see how much more quickly things get done. Being under the gun can increase your admins or F&I speed, but make sure you help them buy-in to the process (consider operating on both sides of the fence: give customers a gas card when their service times run late, but give your employees a bonus when they get done under the time frame as well).
Master your schedule: This one takes a little bit of time, but the investment pays off. You may feel like an air traffic controller, trying to keep all your employees’ and customers’ preferences in line. Some sales people don’t want to be scheduled for nights, weekends, or holidays, but guess what? That’s when customers may have the most time to check out cars. So you’ll need to check records of when you’ve had the highest sales volume (Friday nights? Sunday afternoons?) and add in appropriate staff. Someone on your workforce will be glad to have the hours, and more people on the lot means fewer minutes in the waiting room.
Call it concierge: Shuttle service is pretty passé these days, almost every dealership and shop has them. You may be surprised what a slight name change does to customer impression. Offer a concierge driving service while customers wait, to areas of interest such as malls, local colleges, airports, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Of course, your drivers can always take customers home and back. Don’t forget to brand your shuttle with the dealership’s logo and website.
Sometimes, there’s just no way to cut down waiting time. Salespeople are backed up, a credit check is running long, your vehicle is in the car wash. So, you need to take a strong, hard look at your waiting room accommodations. Customers may spend the better part of a day in your waiting room – do you want them to go home cramped, bored, and annoyed, or refreshed after an enjoyable escape from the world? You can win the waiting room game, but you can’t win if you don’t play. Download our free e-book, “How to Win the Waiting (Room) Game," and get tips on the best refreshments, activities, and electronics that will make your waiting room truly worth the wait.