A recent study released by J.D. Power and Associates really underscores the importance of when to ask the customer for additional service work (see graphic below). As you can see, if your service advisors time it right, they can greatly increase their closing rate for maintenance up-sells.
Let me begin by saying there is never a bad time to ask for additional service work. In other words, it’s better to have your advisors ask at the wrong time than to never ask at all. But if they will follow some simple guidelines, they will be far more successful and far more likely to hear the customer say “yes!”
Let’s take a closer look at the study and build some real-world scenarios around it.
1. When setting the appointment…
Mr. Customer calls the Nissan dealership requesting a time to get an oil change on his 2010 Pathfinder. While logging the appointment, the advisor discovers the vehicle has 33,000 miles on the odometer. Further investigation reveals Mr. Customer hasn’t had a 30K service done yet. The advisor up-sells a 30,000 mile service over the phone while setting the appointment. J.D. Power and Associates found that 37% of vehicle owners will say yes when asked at this time.
2. On the service drive…
Mr. Businessman has a high mileage 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. He travels extensively and doesn’t get to the dealership very often. He has a rare “office day,” so now is a good time to deal with some neglected service work. He shows up on the service drive without an appointment. After the advisor gathers all the information concerning the primary item, he suggests they walk around the vehicle together. After a slow stroll around the car, they end up in the front and the advisor raises the hood to check the vehicle’s vital fluids. A quick computer review of vehicle history shows it’s time for a transmission fluid exchange, an air filter replacement and a four-wheel alignment. Mr. Businessman says “Git ‘er done!”
The J.D. Power and Associates study said when service is offered on the drive, person to person, eyeball to eyeball, that customers will say yes 46% of the time. That’s pretty impressive, but there’s an even better time to up-sell service…
3. Status call…After inspection…
Mrs. Customer enters the service drive with her 2008 Ford F-150 and asks for “the works,” an oil change, tire rotation and multi-point inspection. The advisor does the write-up and gives the customer a copy of a blank multi-point inspection form and says, “Mrs. Customer, while we are servicing your pickup, one of our factory trained technicians will be doing a free vehicle inspection. That way, if he sees any issues regarding safety, repair, or maintenance, then I can bring it to your attention. Will that be okay?” She agrees and he escorts her to the courtesy shuttle.
After the technician completes the multi-point inspection and returns it to the advisor, he calls the customer with the technician’s recommendations.
“Mrs. Customer, our technician has completed his inspection of your pickup. I’m pleased to inform you that your electrical system, brakes and suspension and filters all look perfect and no action is required at this time. Your transmission and power steering fluid are telling us they’ll need to be changed soon, but they’re probably good for another 10,000 miles. One area of concern is your brake fluid. The technician is recommending you have us replace your brake fluid due to higher than normal fluid contamination. We can get this done for under $100 and have you ready to go before noon. If we do it now, it will save you a trip back. Does that sound reasonable?”
J.D. Power and Associates found that over 50% of vehicle owners will give you the go-ahead when presented with the technician’s recommendations. Translation: When you approach the customer after the inspection, you’ll sell an additional 50 line items sold for every 100 line items you ask the customer to buy. Wow!
That could be a game-changer in your service department. Your advisors gain confidence in their selling skills, the techs gain confidence that their recommendations will result in increased labor hours and service department efficiency and profitability increase. Best of all, the customer has the peace of mind knowing their vehicle is safe, trouble-free and fun to drive.
4. When you don’t ask…
Okay, this line item was not part of the J.D. Power and Associates study… I added it myself to make a point. Unfortunately, most service advisors quickly default to “not asking.” My friends, you simply cannot afford to have your advisors not ask. It’s too big of a price to pay. There’s too much money at stake, there’s too much loyalty to be lost. Your service advisors must ask for the sale… they must… no excuses!
Let me say again that there is never a bad time to ask for additional service work, but if you are going to require your advisors to up-sell service, you might as well have them time it to achieve maximum success.
Hold them accountable, track their success and post the results. It works!