Since 2009, the gap between list price and transaction price has steadily declined. To overcome profit margin compression, you must reduce overhead, free up dealership resources to focus on profit centers, and sell more cars at a faster rate. Here’s how to do it.
Being in the service department can be a challenge. There's always a million things to do, and never enough people to do all the tasks. There's high turnover in many service departments, and training is often fast and less thorough then most managers would like.
But there are a few easy ways to make sure your customers feel great about their service experience, things that seem incredibly obvious, but that many service departments haven't really implemented!
1. Make sure each customer gets greeted. 9 times out of 10 when I pull my car into a service bay, or walk in a door, I wait at least 2 minutes before I'm even greeted. Even if you're on the phone, mouth "I'll be right with you" to let the customer know they are acknowledged. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it baffles me how often I walk into a service department and am not even looked at!
2. Explain processes and procedures. It's a fine line between letting a customer know what you need to do, and talking down to them. Don't make them feel stupid for not knowing the inner workings of their car, but ensure that they have a grasp at what needs to be done, and why.
3. Be honest and transparent. This is something the auto industry gets dragged over the coals for all the time, and working to start making changes needs to happen today! I hate going into a service department and having an advisor tell me I absolutely have to do this or that, or my car will be ruined. I work in auto, I have a grasp of what is dire and what would just be a good thing to get done. I especially hate when service advisors do things without my permission! I think making each interaction honest can only help the auto industry as a whole. Instead of "You HAVE to do this" we could say "I also think you should get this done sooner or later. We can do it now, or you can bring it back in when you would like to have us look at it." Simple, little things will really go a long way.
4. Keep to your appointment schedule. If you advertise online that you have a certain day and time open, stick to that! Working hard to make sure that appointments are met, and that cars are done on time really helps your customers trust you. I called a dealership a few months ago and asked to bring my car in for an oil change the following day. I asked if I needed an appointment, and the man on the phone assured me I didn't, that it wouldn't be busy, and that they'd get me through quickly. When I pulled my car through the service bay, the attendant came and asked if I had an appointment. When I told him about my phone call from the day before, he said "Oh, well we don't have any room for people today. Sorry." I was SO UPSET! When people call for appointments, just make the appointment and then STICK TO IT!
5. Go the extra mile. Don't be afraid to go the extra mile, offer to shuttle people back to work if you can, throw in a tire rotation or car wash with oil changes, etc. These little things may feel like they're unimportant or unnecessary, but customers will notice.
Trying these simple service tips may help your dealership get the trust and loyalty of customers, which is what you need to get service to the next level!