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Bill Springer

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5 Ways Dealerships Can Better Compete for Service Customers

The service department is a crucial profit center for new-car dealerships. But earning and retaining the customers that make that profit possible isn’t easy. Aftermarket service providers are constantly working to win your customers over, and they’re often pretty good at it.

However, dealerships have several built-in advantages that they can play up to capture and keep more business. And, with a little effort, there’s more they can do to remain the best and most obvious choice for vehicle owners.

Specifically, new-car dealerships can take the following actions to gain an edge over the competition:

1. Compete on Service Quality

Trying to compete only on price and discounts creates a race to the bottom. That’s a game dealerships don’t want to play. Instead, new-car dealerships can compete on service quality.

Our 2020 Dealership Service Retention Report that while customers do value price, they value quality of work even more when deciding where to go for service. By promoting their expertise with servicing specific makes and models, dealerships can remain the most attractive option. Better yet, let your customers help you promote your superior quality with a strategy for earning more positive online reviews.

But quality of maintenance/repair work is only half the battle. Dealerships also need to compete based on the quality of their customer service. The smoother you can make the experience from appointment setting to paying for service, the better. The goal needs to be 100% satisfaction. Just one bad experience can cause even the most loyal customers to consider other service providers.

2. Provide a Personalized Experience

In addition to enhancing customer experience based on providing top-notch maintenance/repair work, dealerships can also create more personalized experiences to keep customers satisfied.

“Think about selling forward: If a retailer retains the data that a buyer tested an SUV before buying a compact sedan, it can offer the SUV as a service loaner,” suggests Deloitte.

Dealerships can also create more personalized, convenient experiences such as through online appointment setting and appointment reminder systems. Ask customers their preferred communication methods, such as text, email, or phone call. Then, instead of calling every customer for service reminders, you can keep in touch through individual customers’ preferred channels to provide a better experience.

3. Be Proactive With Inspections

One of the factors holding back dealerships from gaining more service business is the fact customers often choose different providers for different services. 56% of dealership service customers that participated in our research go elsewhere for some services.

Most go to dealerships for needs like manufacturer-recommended maintenance, electrical issues, and unknown issues or check engine warnings. But for other issues such as with batteries, tires, and body work, consumers are much less likely to return to dealerships.

However, if dealerships can be proactive about identifying issues in these areas when providing other maintenance, that can elevate customer experience and keep them coming back to you for more work. But simply conducting a multi-point inspection isn’t enough. You also need to ensure your team has the people-skills and proper approach to upselling that’ll be effective in getting customers to take proactive action on your recommendations.
 

4. Get Serious About Tires

As mentioned, dealerships tend to lose out when it comes to tire-related business. In fact, 69% of dealership service customers in our study went elsewhere the last time they needed a tire replaced.

But that’s not just because they’re looking for the cheapest option. Almost one-quarter of vehicle owners weren’t aware whether their dealership even sold tires. Even among loyal dealership customers, 20% are unaware.

That means dealerships need to do more to publicize their tire sales and repair offerings. The more customers can associate dealerships with tires, the better.

One way to stand out from the competition is to leverage technology that ties into enhanced inspections. Almost 60% of tire checks are based only on visual inspections, according to UVeye, a vehicle inspection technology provider. Yet nearly half of service personnel think “that automated tire-inspection systems would more accurately pinpoint serious problems and help ensure customer safety,” the company notes.

Another way to ensure customers come back when they need tires is to offer tire repair and replacement for free as an added perk. With DriveSure, dealerships can provide renewable road hazard tire protection with every maintenance service and vehicle purchase. This kind of incentive ensures customers come back to you when they get a flat and gives them another reason to think of your dealership as a tire provider.

Provide Unique Value-Added Incentives

Amenities like vehicle pick-up and delivery, good coffee, and shuttle services are commonly used to keep customers happy. But incentives are where the real magic lies in attracting and retaining customers.

Value-added incentive offerings like the ones DriveSure empowers dealerships to provide to customers provide a competitive advantage that keeps third-party service providers at bay.

We’ve already discussed how DriveSure can help with tires, but DriveSure doesn’t stop there. With every qualifying service visit or vehicle purchase, DriveSure helps your dealership provide dealer-loyal roadside assistance, road hazard tire protection, and ride share transportation in the event their vehicle needs unplanned repairs. These benefits expire at the end of the dealership-recommended maintenance interval and can only be renewed by returning to the dealership for a qualifying maintenance service, such as an oil change.

With DriveSure, customers have extra reason to come back on time for regular maintenance. And, if they face an unplanned breakdown or flat tire, DriveSure makes your dealership the obvious choice to remedy the issue.

 

Stand Out From the Crowd

Vehicle owners have many options to choose from for servicing, but dealerships can do more to stand out as the go-to choice. Instead of trying to be the lowest-price option, dealerships that can play up their expertise and provide high-quality service can break away from the competition.

And by offering amenities like DriveSure benefits, which are unique to new-car dealerships, you can keep customers coming back for more services, such as tires. Over time, more customers will come to rely on your dealership for all their servicing needs, rather than picking and choosing different maintenance/repair shops based on the service needed.


 

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