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You made the commitment to capture more recall work. You’ve done your due diligence by notifying your customers. You’ve obtained lists of in-market customers subject to recalls that haven’t been to your dealership before, and reached out to them. You’ve spent the time and energy to really saturate your market using every form of communication to maximize your reach. Now the phones are ringing. Appointments are being made. Parts are being ordered. Customers start showing up to get their recall repair completed. This windfall of additional service business is going to increase your revenue.
What happens, however, when the recall work is completed?
You have one of two choices: You can be happy that you got that additional work and send the customer home knowing their vehicle is repaired. Or, you can integrate a strategy into your recall process in an attempt to gain the recall repair work AND retain these customers for future work.
Customers that arrive for recall repairs can naturally be nervous about their vehicle and, by extension, the brand and your dealership. They may be skeptical that their vehicle will be repaired correctly. Let’s not forget the unfortunate case of the Takata airbag recall, where some consumers had their recall repair done with parts made by TRW. Later it was discovered that the replacement parts were also defective, so customers were forced to return to the dealership to get the same repair done again. This second recall affected more than two million vehicles.
Establishing trust with the customer is essential in order to keep their service business in the future. To do that, it helps to have a thorough and comprehensive plan of action for all customers that come into the dealership for repair work. Simply checking in their car and trying to upsell these customers won’t score you any points. Prove to the customer that they genuinely care about the health and safety of their vehicle – and the customer – by conducting a complete inspection of the vehicle each time they come in for service. And be sure to go over the results of that inspection with the customer.
Use these vehicle inspections to establish a baseline with the customer right from their first appointment. Ensure that they understand that your goal is to make their vehicle as safe as possible. A green, orange, red approach helps them track what needs immediate handling and what can wait a few weeks. The key is keep it consistent so that a natural progression is seen in their vehicle service each visit.
For any customer coming in for a recall fix, please, please, research their vehicle and identify other possible recalls that may exist. Too many times I hear of customers that bring a vehicle in for recall work, get the recall fixed, only to discover after the repair is completed that there was another recall that could have been fixed at the same time. The customer has already been inconvenienced and this just compounds the issue. The more thorough you can be, the more the customer will understand that you are simply trying to ensure that their vehicle is safe and properly maintained.
Equally important is to ensure that the customer has an excellent experience at your dealership. Just as the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Many of these recall customers could be new to your dealership. And, due to some pretty severe media reports, some are likely to be pretty concerned about their safety. By bending over backwards to ensure that they have an excellent service experience, you have the opportunity to begin a relationship with the customer and increase the chance that they will return.
Show your customer that you care about their vehicles safety. Provide an excellent service experience and these customers should recognize the value that you offer and show their appreciation by returning. Don’t simply settle for the recall repair. Think long term and you could end up with a customer that contributes to your bottom line for years to come.