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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Put Your Dealer Advantage to Work in Service

According to the CallSource Automotive Inbound Call Data Report, the service department phone is a missed opportunity. Over the past four years, 40 percent of inbound calls to fixed ops phones were converted to appointments.

That’s a telling statistic – it says customers are price shopping. You might say, “If they aren’t willing to pay our rate, what can you do?” But ask a sales manager. That strategy doesn’t fly.

A salesperson/product specialist knows that the real question being asked on that call isn’t “what is the cost?” but rather “why should I choose you?”. It’s a wide-open door to explain why the dealership is the best place for repairs and service.

Keep in mind that the phone is just one contact method being used. Countless more customers are browsing your dealership online, a vast majority of whom will never even pick up that phone. You’ve lost the opportunity to convert that lead into a customer before you had a chance.

That’s where conveying your dealer or OE advantage is so important.

Tools in Your Dealer Toolbox

Without a doubt, dealerships have a massive advantage over aftermarket service providers. Once you realize it and put it to use, you should have no problem increasing call conversions.


Dealerships offer a better experience than aftermarket shops. Have you seen a non-franchised repair shop with a building that compares to the vast majority of dealerships? It’s just not the norm. With the store comes a beautiful customer lounge, courtesy cars, Wi-Fi, refreshments, and more. Some non-OEM stores offer bits of it, but not the whole package.

Brand-Focused Knowledge

Staff that know the customers’ vehicles inside out isn’t a quirk. It’s a tool to use. Knowing the brand, common concerns, fast fixes, and having the wisdom to train customers how to use features before they become ‘No Fault Found’ is something the dealership does best. It’s impossible for non-OEM shops to have the same level of expertise on the product.

Factory Trained Technicians

It’s one of the most important advantages dealers have. The technicians in your shop have intrinsic knowledge that only comes from specializing in your brand. That can save a customer repeat visits and added expenses. Above all, it gives peace of mind that their repairs or service will be done correctly every time.

OEM Parts

You might see that OEM parts are an added expense; that other shops can offer aftermarket parts cheaper. But that’s not how most customers see it. When you put forward that OEM parts are designed to fit perfectly, just like the original, and that using high-quality parts can save future parts AND labor expenses from premature failure, not to mention that OEM pricing is highly competitive, that can be an attractant instead of deterrent.

Backed by Warranty

Peace of mind. When customers know their repairs are backed by warranty through the manufacturer, it’s a great reason to choose the dealer. Of course, we know that aftermarkets say the same thing. The benefit is that OEM parts warranty can be done by any dealer nationwide, not just the Joe or Jane that did the repair down the street.

How to Implement Your Advantage

So, then, how do you implement the dealer advantage into your strategy? For phone calls, it’s a matter of training staff on handling calls. Here’s a sample:

“Can you tell me how much front brakes are for my car?”

“Sure, I’d love to. Just so you’re aware, we’ll use OEM parts that are covered by a nationwide OEM parts and labor warranty. One of our factory-trained technicians will have your brakes working like new. We also offer courtesy cars/shuttle ride, or you can grab a coffee and snack in the lounge while you wait for your brake job. Front brakes for your car will be $XX dollars, parts and labor included. How does that sound. When would you like to book your visit?”

  The Online Presence

Implementing your advantage online can seem more challenging. You can draw attention to the OE advantage with competitive price comparison data, though, with almost no effort at all. Build on the comparison pricing tools you already have at your disposal.

Be transparent with your customers on how competitive your pricing truly is. See how InteliChek’s web widget will change the way customers interact with your website. Most of all, it shows your OE advantage before the phone even rings.


Cassie Ciopryna

Great article, Jason! This is definitely an area for dealers to work and capitalize on. Love the tips! 

Martins Ville

Good article. On the "Front brakes for your car will be $XX dollars, parts and labor included. How does that sound. When would you like to book your visit?” - I'd exclude how does that sound. It's always expensive. Just go right to the appointment options, or Can we pick your car up for you from work or home.

what I would like to see is when I call a dealership service department similar to when I call my credit card company, they recognize my number and know who I am. And some voice prompt such as please stay the reason you're calling. I might say oil change. in the system would say okay Siri looking to get an oil change would you like to get that done today. If I say no, I would prefer to make the appointment verbally and automatically on the phone right there and then. Once my appointment is set I'd love to get a text reminder, they prompt to save it to my calendar, to my phone reminder system.

I agree service department's don't include the feature , advantage, benefit when selling service.

Jason Unrau

Martins, I like the personal touch when my call is answered too! 

For the question, "How does that sound", it gives the customer an opening to voice any objections prior to asking for a commitment. Otherwise, a small objection could be met with a hard, "No thanks". It's what I'd prefer to see, but I can see how it could work either way. 

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