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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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How Servicing Fleets Should Be Different

A large local construction company truck pulls into the service drive. The lone occupant hops out of the driver’s seat, already scrolling through their phone, replying to messages and calling a client back before even meeting the service advisor’s eye. It’s a fleet customer rolling through for a truck service and there’s one thing the advisor already knows: it’s going to be a bare-bones RO, probably a one-liner.

Unless a fleet customer’s vehicle has high mileage or a big problem, there’s a good chance the recommended preventative maintenance – aside from the oil change, that is – will go to the wayside. That’s from firsthand experience in multiple stores, by the way. It’s not because they don’t care about their vehicle’s condition either. In fact, quite the opposite. Their trucks need to be reliable so they don’t miss site visits, client meetings, and the debrief in the office at the end of the day.

The reason for fleet customers stripping service down to the absolute minimum is in the timing.

You Can’t Get Time Back

In discussion with a major construction company’s VP, I learned that the thing topping their list for dealership frustrations is that their time isn’t respected. He mentioned to me that he’s often gone to the dealership and has been told the service would be less than 30 minutes. An hour later, he requests the shuttle. And more often than not, it’s another hour or two before his truck is ready.

Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to the hour, minute, and second hands ticking away. You can’t get that time back. But for fleet customers, their lost productivity has the butterfly effect on business. They can’t make it to a meeting with a prospective client, lose the bid, they lay off employees, and their business struggles. Obviously that’s not the case every time, but lost productivity for many fleet customers is costlier than just the hour’s wages while they wait at the dealership.

The other consequence when fleet customers don’t feel their time is respected at the dealership is personal. You won’t get their referrals or personal business because there’s already a bad taste in their mouth. So, it costs your dealership big bucks in the long run too.

What to Do Differently

My conversation turned to what could be done differently to serve the needs of a fleet better.

  1. Under-promise and over-deliver. That’s the best course of action all the time, but especially when you’re dealing with a fleet customer. If the shop is busy, don’t think you’ll have a service done in 30 minutes when your average customer is still taking an hour and a half. Tell the customer a reasonable time frame and deal with it from there.
  2. Be prepared before they arrive. If you know a fleet customer is coming in, reserve a courtesy vehicle. Use your own loaner cars if you can so there’s no need to tour the countryside for a rental agency. If you use rentals, make sure you’ve teed up the rental agent with a comparable vehicle.
  3. Keep them informed. More than any other client, fleet customers need to know right away when their vehicles are ready. If you’re going to upsell, do it early enough that they can account for the time factor in their day. Texting is a huge benefit for many busy fleet customers.
  4. Drop off and pick up. Show you value a company’s business and their time by arranging for drop-offs and pick-ups. Again, use your loaner vehicles to make the exchange. When they don’t have to visit your dealership’s service department personally, you’ll save them an hour or more in their day. They appreciate it more than you know, especially when you review the benefit with them. “Kevin, I know you’re busy. Would it save you some time for tomorrow’s appointment if we come to you and exchange vehicles until yours is ready?”

 

Ticking off your fleet customers is a big reason they pare down their servicing to nil, and why you don’t see them after warranty expires. Treat them according to their needs by understanding their needs, then reap the rewards.

 

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