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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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How NOT to Operate Your Service Department like Tesla

If you saw the product reveal for the Tesla Cybertruck, you’re aware of the famous flop Elon Musk encountered on stage. Not exactly the glorious moment he was going for as the Cybertruck’s ‘bulletproof’ windows smashed rather easily. And on top of the embarrassing faux pas, their all-electric pickup truck was met with mixed, polarizing reviews.

A boxy, angular shape, albeit with some fancy gadgetry and a cool ‘vault’ truck bed, definitely isn’t the style that will fulfill Musk’s vision of an electric vehicle in every driveway. Instead of bringing a product to market that appeals to a broad audience, Tesla has gone for a niche client.

That’s NOT how you should model your service department.

Doing the Basics Well

Trying to go above and beyond expectations might’ve seemed like a good idea for Musk at the time with a truck that’s unlike any other, but it’s very unlikely to be a model for success. The same goes for your service department. You can offer a unique service experience – a shooting gallery in the back 40, Shiatsu massage in the customer lounge – but it doesn’t have widespread appeal. Solid basics, on the other hand, are always in style.

Just like doing the typical pickup truck just a little better and electric-powered would appeal to a wider audience, your service department’s widespread appeal is due to the basics. A friendly and fast greeting for every customer on each visit, a thorough walkaround, honest service recommendations, transparent pricing, and accurate service and repairs are fundamental to success in the service department.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It takes small improvements at the grassroots level to take your dealership’s service department from ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent’.

Offer Consistent Experiences in the Service Drive

Absolutely every customer that brings in a vehicle should expect the same process on every visit. That means the appointment, the greeting and handshake, the write-up, transportation options, and pick-up experiences should be consistent for all. Test your team to make sure it’s the case.

A variation from the norm creates confusion for the customer. Confusion or uneasiness is never a good thing in the service industry.

Be Expert Communicators

A long-standing frustration for many customers is due to the lack of communication from the service department. Some customers want to know every detail of their visit while others are less interested. Some engage with emails between service visits while others send those communiques to the junk folder. Always err on the side of communicating too much.

A customer who doesn’t feel they’re getting your attention when they need it WILL defect. There are plenty of places trying to take your business away. The last thing you need is to give your customers a reason to entertain other stores. Establish strong phone, texting, and email skills in your team, as well as marketing strategies for between visits.

Keep the Lot Organized and Clear

A small but important detail that can make a huge difference to the customer experience is simply in how easy it is to navigate your lot. We’re entering the winter months, and it’s challenging to keep the lot lanes clear. It’s frustrating for customers when they can’t find parking or they can’t navigate to the service drive doors easily because the lot is a mess.

Task someone with keeping the lot organized throughout the day and clearing the snow from in front of both overhead and man doors.

 

Tesla seems to have the idea that customers want an automotive revolution. That’s not the case – they just want the what they know to be made better. That includes the service experience.

Don’t try too hard to make your service department outrageously different. Just step up your game and absolutely nail the basics. Customers will love you for it.   

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