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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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The 95-Percent Delivery that Ends in Divorce

Some parts of the automotive business are a little different in the Great White North. The industry may be more resilient in some ways, and less affected by crazy rhetoric and politics. But where it remains the same is the expectation a customer has when they purchase a vehicle. That is, the Customer eXperience.

Whether your store is in the deep south, the Bible Belt, or the densely-populated east coast states, every customer has the same expectation for a smooth, consistent experience buying a car. The process is like getting married. You date for a while, potentially keeping your options open. Once you commit to one vehicle, it’s your wedding day. But that’s a starting point, not the final destination. It’s the beginning of a relationship.

In the vehicle buying journey, you can do almost everything right. A perfect walkaround, a customer-centric needs and wants assessment, honest and transparent pricing and negotiation are the bulk of the delivery and are very necessary. But one small misstep can lead to dealer divorce down the road.

It’s the Sales to Service Handoff.

A View from the Periphery

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a vehicle sale unfold from start to finish with someone who asked for my guidance. The salesperson was doing so well. He nailed the vehicle selection and was so in tune with the buyer. There was an early introduction to the finance manager and the sales manager to really make her comfortable. The decision to buy was a no-brainer.

Even delivery day was great. They reviewed the vehicle options and set up her phone. They pulled the car out of the showroom and off she drove. Without a first service appointment. There wasn’t an introduction to the service department.

Why It Matters So Much

Some think it’s not a big deal, but it is. That one faux pas can be all it takes to never see that customer again, even though the CX was perfect otherwise. Here’s why.

  • You haven’t reinforced the importance of servicing the vehicle. Do they know when the first oil change is due? And you haven’t had an authoritative person at your store explain how the service process will work.
  • You haven’t emphasized why YOUR STORE is the best choice for service. The customer may think they can service just as well at another dealer, or just the corner quick lube.
  • You’ll lose income. If the customer decides to service elsewhere, that’s income your store sacrifices needlessly. And from recent research, everyone is well aware that fixed ops is where the dealership makes consistent money.
  • Future sales could be in jeopardy. Not too concerned about lost service income? Don’t expect repeat sales or referrals. After the first year, more than half of customers who haven’t been back to the selling dealer are grow apart, divorce, destined to never return. That’s despite having a great sales experience. Loyalty is all but dead.

The very simple but all-so-important service introduction absolutely has to be part of every vehicle delivery. No question. You can do 19 of 20 things perfectly in the sales process and delivery. But miss out on that one detail and your perfect score turns into an utter fail.

Bryant Gibby

Great post and I couldn't agree more Jason!

This was something we pushed heavily at both of the stores that I worked at. I strongly recommend developing a process to hold your team accountable or it won't get done. I've seen some stores go as far as tying it into their pay plan. We used to manage it and still found that salespeople (some anyway) didn't take it seriously. We finally made a change and announced that the % of service intros = % of earned spiffs being paid out. We never really had problems after that :)

R. J. James

Jason... EXCELLENT article!!!  Especially like your divorce analogy because it REALLY NAILS the Loss of Revenue, Service Customer Retention, and Repeat Sales Opportunities that so many dealerships miss because of a weak or non-existing commitment to a "Sales-to-Service Hand-off" Process.

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