f it’s not the most visited area in an automotive dealership, it’s arguably one with the most captive audiences.
No, it’s not the sales floor; it’s your automotive service area.
Whether it’s waiting for a vehicle to get prepped for delivery or waiting for it to get serviced, the automotive service area—more specifically the lounge—is home to the section of your dealership that has few distractions for customers, i.e. an audience that has little to do but wait.
What can your dealership offer as a distraction to not only entertain them while they wait, but also become an opportunity for creating a positive experience on your dealership?
Pass the Time. Time is always an issue at the dealership’s service department. Let’s face it, no one really enjoys sitting around a cold, uninviting waiting area. When sitting around waiting for something—anything—to happen, your customers want something to do while they wait. Why not offer your customers access to computer workstations equipped with free Internet access and/or outfitted with games or movies? Not only can you help them pass the time, you can also make their experience pleasurable and positive, connotations that may not always be applied to an automotive service department experience.
Service is Job 1. It goes without saying that your customer service experiences should heavily skew towards the “kill them with kindness” approach. However, the little things can go a long way to improving an experience. Offering such free items like premium coffee, cold beverages, snacks and frequent updates on their vehicle’s progress give your customers the feeling that they’re special and unique. Besides, you never know who is watching – it could mean a great review at an online site like DealerRater.com that boosts your dealership’s online reputation.
Sales! Sales! Sales! Unfortunately, not all visits to the automotive service area are filled with great news – the customer’s vehicle may require significant and unexpected (and sometimes very costly) repairs or recommended services. Or perhaps the customer is tired of putting money into their older vehicle. In either scenario, the door is wide open for a sales opportunity. Simply installing something like an interactive kiosk or small LCD screen by that premium coffee maker that displays some of the latest and greatest vehicles in your dealership line may be a catalyst for a new vehicle purchase. Another option is to offer a Vehicle Buy Back program to entice the in-equity customers who have a particular vehicle your dealership is interested in purchasing from them. Via a kiosk or board, you should display the individual’s name, a call to action (i.e., “Mrs. Wilson, we want your 2004 Ford Explorer.”) and address the customer when they enter the service area. This process will facilitate additional sales for your dealership.
Expand Your Reach! When a customer is sitting in your service area waiting room, there is no better time to capture their email address and engage them in your social media efforts. As mentioned above, your dealership could set up a kiosk that allows Internet access. However, in order to access the Internet, the individual must input their email address. This process is quite common in hotels and coffee shops around the country. In addition to Internet access, you could offer exclusive discounts to all customers who “like” your dealership on Facebook. If you choose to implement this, you could use your service waiting area to promote your Facebook page by hanging posters, placing postcards at checkout and enabling your kiosk to display a Facebook screensaver.
In leveraging your automotive service area, you’re giving yourself a prime opportunity to create a positive experience for your customer, enhance communications with them and in the long run, create future sales opportunity as well.
~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!
Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and check her out on LinkedIn.