It is widely known that Service is the lifeblood of all dealerships and, in many cases, keeps dealerships financially in the black. With the inundation of service requests by consumers, largely due to the increasing amounts of recalls that we’ve seen in the last few years, service departments are finding it more difficult than ever to accommodate all of the customers that need their attention in a timely manner. Shortages of technicians, and shop capacity diminishing due to demand, can easily see service advisors move away from a consultative selling mode and move towards a “get ‘em in and out!” mentality. While it’s easy to see how this could happen as service advisors – and dealerships – want to accommodate as many customers as possible, dealerships are skipping sales steps in the name of efficiency and customer experience and leaving money on the table.
So, here are a few tips that you can utilize when it comes to service recommendations. As a Dealer you should be holding your Service staff accountable for ensuring they are taking advantage of the opportunities and explaining how important they are to the overall profitability of the dealership:
Let’s start with the multi-point or “courtesy” inspection that should be completed on every vehicle in for service. Of course, every service advisor will present the results of the inspection to the customer. The question is that, as service advisors get busier, do they miss things that could easily increase “upselling” in service? And it starts by showing the customer what passed! If you present the items that passed and then those that are recommended you will be off to a great start! Now on to the tips…
1. Service Advisors Forget to Sell - Customers don’t necessarily “want” to spend more money for services that they weren’t expecting, but many will do so if they are convinced that the vehicle’s safety and life will be negatively affected by not doing so. Informing a customer that their vehicle needs X service and that it will cost $X without explaining what the service is, why it’s important and what the consequences of not doing the service, gives the customer an easy way to decline the service, and so the service advisor moves on. The problem is that oftentimes customers decline service not because they don’t want to keep their vehicles maintained and operating safely, but rather because the service advisor has not explained fully why it’s important. Service advisors should always take the time, no matter how busy the service drive is, to fully explain the reasons for the recommendations and the impact failure to complete them could bring.
2. Review Service History - many service advisors fail to review past service visits and reinforce the need to complete previously declined recommended services. Many customers take service recommendations with a skeptical perspective, so unless they’re a gearhead, they many not truly understand why or how important a recommended service is, and so they decline it – even if it’s just being declined “for now” in their minds, thinking “I’ll go ask a family member or do some research, to see if I really need it”. Then of course they get busy and forget about it and even if they did go ask that family member or do that research, they forget the answer by the next visit. You can’t tell a customer that they need new brake pads or tires on one visit, then, assuming the brake pads or tires weren’t replaced in between, fail to reaffirm it 3-6 months later! That kills their confidence in the advisor and the Dealership!
Ensuring that technicians are continuing to “re-recommend” any previously declined services from each customer accomplishes two things:
- It reinforces the integrity of the original recommendation
- And builds trust while reminding the customer that they needed this service
Depending on the technician that did the MPI in each visit, recommendations from previous visits could differ from a current visit. By “re-recommending” previously declined services, the dealership stands a better chance of capturing that service business. The only valid reason not to “re-recommend” a previously declined service is if a customer informs the service advisor that they had the service done elsewhere and the technician can visually verify that it was.
3. Time is of the Essence - How many services get declined for the simple reason that the customer wasn’t contacted in a timely manner to get permission to do the additional repairs? If the advisor waits until later in the day to contact the customer often the only reason they decline it is because they think their vehicle won’t be ready when they needed or expected it. Research time and again proves the faster the MPI is completed and the customer contacted, the higher the likelihood that the customer will agree to the additional services assuming that everything is explained properly by the service advisor.
What rational customer does not want to keep their vehicle running properly and safely? Cars tend to be the second largest purchase that a consumer makes in their lives and they rely on their vehicles to transport themselves and their families to work and school safely. The loss of a vehicle can be financially devastating to many American families. The mere fact that the customer is at your dealership versus having a family member or local mechanic do the work means that they not only value the quality of service that a dealership provides, but that they are also relying on the experts at your dealership to let them know what, if anything, their vehicle needs.
The bottom line is, if you make sure that your service advisors are being thorough in their service recommendations to every customer, then reinforce and validate any past declined services and verify the best contact methods with each customer to ensure fast communications and recommendation resolutions, you will see less declined service and higher repair order values!
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