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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

Exclusive Blog Posts

Implementing New Tools in Fixed Ops

Implementing New Tools in Fixed Ops

    We spoke to Brandon Nixon, National Sales Director at Update Promise, to talk about implementing new tools in Fixed Ops and how you…

The Untapped Potential of the Infotainment for Dealers | KPI Cafe Season 4 Bonus 2

The Untapped Potential of the Infotainment for Dealers | KPI Cafe Season 4 Bonus 2

KPI Cafe Host Dane Saville dives into the untapped potential of the infotainment in each of your dealership's vehicles for sales and customer retention…

The Value of a Better Buying Experience

The Value of a Better Buying Experience

    We met with Steve Roessler, Vice President of Sales at DriveCentric, at NADA 2020 to discuss how dealerships can nail their customer experience…

Managing Remotely: the Daily Check-in

Managing Remotely: the Daily Check-in

In the last post of this series, we talked about the necessity of determining the activities that will get you the results when you have a team working rem…

Put Your Marketing Focus on Fixed Ops

Put Your Marketing Focus on Fixed Ops

March 2020 felt like the longest decade in modern history, didn’t it? In the automotive industry, dealerships in most states have gone from flour…

‘Buy From Home’ Works for Sales, But What About Service?

The government is now telling us that we may not be getting back to normal for weeks or months, whatever that new normal is going to look like. Dealerships are adapting the sales process, pivoting on a dime in transition to ‘buy from home’ processes. From everything we know, an enhanced digital retailing journey is preferred by customers, albeit a completely dealership-free sale isn’t the intention. But sales can make it work.

What about the service department? The typical service experience has dozens of customers arriving at the service drive daily. In today’s ‘social distancing’ requirements, it certainly isn’t easy to maintain your personal space in a busy department. So, what’s a service department to do now?

Stay Healthy

First and foremost is your team’s health and that of your customers. Your service department can’t help anyone at all if you experience an outbreak. Anyone who has symptoms, has recently traveled, or is caring for a sick person should be encouraged to stay home for the recommended self-isolation period of 14 days (unless that changes).

Emphasize the Importance of Appointments

You may wish to switch to an appointment-only structure for better control of traffic volume in the dealership. An appointment allows customers to maintain the appropriate distance for your safety and theirs as they aren’t jockeying for position in a queue.

Can Customers Remain in the Vehicle?

There are definitely restrictions for what’s permissible by insurance companies and regulations. However, if a customer’s appointment doesn’t require them to step out of their car, it could help retain the capacity to service more vehicles. For example, does your express oil change bay have a pit rather than a hoist? It could be repurposed during certain hours or days for more intensive work that allows the customer to stay in their car. Or, if work can be completed on the floor in the shop, the same can be true.

Vehicle Pick-Up and Drop-Off for the Masses

Most dealers offer service pickup in some capacity already. It’s a great way to keep the dealership’s service department open. NADA is advocating to government to consider automotive retail and service as an essential service – cars will need fixing and required services, even if it’s less frequent for the moment.

Consider moving to a vehicle pick-up and drop-off structure on a limited basis. Here’s what it could look like:

  • Assign a lot attendant or the technician to pick up the vehicle for service. They should bring safety equipment and cleaning supplies to sanitize the customer’s car and protect themselves. Since service traffic will assuredly decrease if it hasn’t already, techs will have some extra time to help with this.
  • Since service departments likely don’t have a huge fleet of loaners or courtesy cars, allow staff to use personal vehicles and pay mileage. Another option is shuttle drop-off and pick-up for staff, but it’s not ideal.
  • The vehicle is brought back to the shop, serviced as per normal, and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before return.
  • If it isn’t a dealer-owned vehicle, the customer will be without wheels until their car is returned.
  • Process credit card payment over the phone or through another digital manner if you have it set up. Keep it contactless as much as possible, so no cash or checks.

The drop-off/pick-up structure isn’t cost-effective en masse, that’s for sure. In these extenuating circumstances, the goal should probably be refocused to providing an income for your team members ad serving your clients as long as possible. That may even mean aiming for the break-even point or taking a loss to make it happen.

We’re in the business of serving customers and keeping the world moving, physically and economically. Let’s prove it in the coming weeks and months.

 

Morgan Hardy

I think service departments should consider pick-up service where they pick-up the customers car and then return it to them. 

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