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Dan Beres

Dan Beres Managing Partner

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Getting Service Recommendations Is Child's Play

Customer experience and standing out from the competition by excelling at customer satisfaction is still very much a good business practice today. Time is valuable for today's busy consumers, and many dislike the vehicle service experience at dealerships because of long wait times.

Loaner cars and shuttles help, but they can end up making it more challenging to contact customers for service recommendation approvals. This then leads to phone tag while the vehicle takes up a valuable service bay. If the customer is in your waiting area, you have easy access to the decisions you need to keep operations at an efficient pace.

On the other hand, if a customer stays at the dealership waiting for their vehicle, they tend to get antsy. The longer that they wait, the more irritable they get. This is human nature. Unfortunately, it can also lead to a lot of declines for additional service because the longer wait tests the customer's patience. Dealerships try to alleviate this with more efficient processes, increased service bays, better shop capacity management, and the strategic scheduling of appointments.

According to a recent article in Automotive News, one dealership has an interesting way of handling this problem – a playground. It may sound silly at first, but it keeps service customers at the dealership, which means easy access to discuss recommendations, leading to increased RO approvals.

A dealership in Wisconsin installed a playground between its two franchise stores. It resulted in more customers choosing to wait for full service rather than quick service. Service recommendation approval increased, which drove up service revenue and, as a bonus, improved customer experience, and satisfaction.

In today's highly competitive service market, standing out from the competition with a unique customer benefit helps your store differentiate itself from competing franchise dealers. It is even more critical when it comes to the competition from independent service facilities. While the "Jiffy Lubes" of the world rely on a selling proposition based on price and convenience, this dealership in Wisconsin has turned the table 180 degrees by elevating the customer experience. And at little expense.

No, I am not necessarily suggesting you run out and install a playground. But I do recommend finding some strong differentiator that makes your dealership's service department stand out from the rest. Promoting "FREE WIFI" is not going to cut it anymore.

Consider making your dealership a place where customers don't mind hanging out by providing the amenities they enjoy. Perhaps something such as an espresso bar, shared office workspace, private television monitors, reclining or lounge seating, connected tablets, foot massagers and a host of other conveniences. Make going to the dealership feel more like a day spa and less like a trip to the dentist. This can help negate the "time" advantage independents have ingrained into consumers through their positioning.

Effectively taking away your biggest competitor's one – and only – selling proposition is a pretty compelling advantage. Do that, and you could win customers' business now and for many years into the future.

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