The 2018 Cox Automotive Service Industry Study gives dealers a chance to laud their service advisors instead of admonishing them. One very important statistic that comes up in the report is this: 53 percent of service visits at the dealership included multiple services.
It’s a full 12 percent higher than just three years previous, in 2015. It should not be downplayed either. Tighter sales margins in variable ops means dealers will rely more heavily on service department revenue, and service advisors are bellying up to the bar, making it happen. While 12 percent is sure to benefit the bottom line, there remains a good chunk of customer ROs that are one-liners.
Lucky for dealers, the one-line ROs are less frequently just an oil change, according to the same Cox Automotive study. Whatever the job on that one line, the dealership can only benefit if that same RO had two or more lines on it.
I’m sure most service advisors would agree that upselling the same services customer after customer gets tiring very quickly. Only so many will want that brake replacement package you offer or the seasonal inspection. And the cooling system flush upsell just doesn’t go over as well in spring as it does in the fall.
It wears as thin on customers as it does on advisors. What people want is a service experience tailored to their needs, not one-size-fits-all suggestions.
Some upsells, however, work that way. The question you ask is effectively personal and can be asked of every customer as this summer season rolls around.
Of course, pay close attention to the customer. If you feel they aren’t in the space for it, give it a pass. There’s no need to tick off a customer just to attempt an upsell. But for anyone who seems mildly tuned into what you have to say, here are a few suggestions.
A/C efficiency is a concern that many customers feel they can live with. It’s normal for an A/C system to lose 15-20 percent of its efficiency by the end of three years, and customers will begin to notice the difference. Often, it only requires a refrigerant evac and recharge to get it ice-cold again. It could also be an opportunity to add on a cabin air filter. Or, an A/C repair might be in order, and the average cost is $488, a nice addition to an RO.
On the walkaround, did you notice that there are salt stains in the carpets? You’ll find this mainly in northern states after winter breaks. It’s true – the sand and salt in the carpet is an abrasive and causes carpet fibers to break off. It’s a segue into an upsell on detailing packages beyond the normal wash and vac. No matter the client, you’ll find that car owners whose vehicles are less than eight years old take pride in their ride and want to keep it clean and in good shape.
Going into summer, good tire tread is important for traction in rain, snow, and even the heat. More than one in three car owners can’t tell if a tire is bald. 78 percent of vehicles that enter the service drive require tire services of some kind, whether rotation, tire repair, or replacement. This question opens the conversation to bring the customer to their car and look at their tires with them. Not only is it a time you can build trust with the car owner, but a great opportunity to upsell tires or tire services.
And that brings up the key to it all: building customer trust. Upsells are so important for boosting the bottom line, and making money is the reason a dealership is in business. But it can’t be at the expense of losing a customer’s trust. With every interaction, weigh whether your actions and your speech build up that relationship or damage it.