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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Upselling Poll Shows 1 in 3 Customers Buys Additional Services

Fixed Ops Journal teamed up with DealerRater in April 2019 to ask customers a question:

“The last time you took your vehicle to the dealership for service, did you buy additional work that the service adviser recommended?”

That’s a pretty simple question, right? Of the 11,456 respondents, 31 percent of mass-market vehicle owners and 33 percent of luxury vehicle owners said that they had. It shows that more than two-thirds of those asked refused additional work.

The poll as it’s reported leaves me asking more questions. Are customers who weren’t asked to purchase an upsell excluded from the survey, and how do customers qualify the term ‘additional work’?

Forgive me if I seem skeptical of a rather subjective poll that seems open for interpretation by respondents. Perhaps the researchers didn’t want to ask leading questions, but the statistics appear to paint a picture of apprehensive customers unwilling to bite on upsells that aren’t required work. I have a different takeaway than their image of advisors who peddle extra work on customers for profit.

Not Every Service Visit Requires an Upsell

I’d venture to say that most dealerships have service BDCs that are well trained in booking appointments according to maintenance schedules. They’re also checking their previous history to recommend refused work and are asking questions to ensure all of the customer’s concerns are listed on the work order.

Not every appointment is incomplete anymore. Advisors might have a multi-line RO that covers all the bases. It’s an ideal situation from a service advisor’s standpoint when you don’t need to upsell to every customer. And it’s because service departments are doing a better job before the customer arrives in the service drive.

Good Advisors Don’t Seem Like They’re Upselling

Mr. Jones receives a text message stating, “The pre-trip inspection that you’ve asked us to do found a couple of relatively minor things that need attention. Your front brakes are at 10 percent remaining and there’s a small coolant leak. I imagine you’d like to address these while it’s here? I’ll text you a quote right away.”

It’s asking for the sale, but the customer may not see it as additional work. If the advisor can phrase the conversation so the customer takes ownership of the service visit, it doesn’t seem like an upsell. And that can skew responses to an ambiguous question about additional work.

The Better Metrics

Rather than looking at how frequently a customer thinks they’ve been upsold, there are better metrics to determine your advisors’ success.

  • Multiline ROs. Want to know if your advisors are growing in their sales techniques and recommending maintenance and repairs other than the requested oil change? Look at the average number of lines on work orders. This metric alone doesn’t tell the whole story because there can be $0 lines, but it should trend higher for more experienced service staff.
  • Average $$ per RO. In conjunction with multiple lines, you should be able to see improvement in the average dollars per RO. From the store’s position, you’d like this number as high as possible along with an ELR as close to door rate as possible.
  • Customer satisfaction. Here’s the overarching standard by which to measure your advisors. If customers are happy and are returning, your advisors are doing a great job. That means they’ve been treated well, and their cars are serviced to their satisfaction.


Recommending additional maintenance and repairs is an important part of a service advisor’s role. Keep an eye on more than just that one statistic – additional work – to determine how well your team members are performing.

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