Your customers bring their cars to your service department for one primary reason—Quality! Lang Marketing has been tracking consumers’ service selection criteria for many years and quality continues to dominate the hearts and minds of vehicle owners.
34% say technical capability is the primary factor in choosing dealerships, while 28% list work quality (see graphic). Those two criteria, which together total 62%, are really saying the same thing: the consumer wants the job done right the first time by a high-quality, knowledgeable technician. It is so critical that dealers, general managers, and service managers buy into this fact and continually communicate it to the advisors and technicians.
Nationwide, fixed operations revenue was down last year. When I ask advisors and techs why the revenue is down, I get an overwhelming response; “Dealerships are too expensive!” We have a word for that in Oklahoma: Hogwash! You are not losing customers on the service drive because your prices are too high. The belief that dealerships are too expensive is a lie; don’t believe it!
Only 2% of the people surveyed listed price as their primary reason for choosing a dealership for their service needs. I’m not saying price isn’t important, but it is not in the forefront of most people’s minds when they are on your service drive. In fact, price was trumped by every other criteria presented in the survey.
You can have quality or you can have cheap, but you can’t have both!
In a separate survey, Lang Marketing asked consumers why they chose an independent garage to do their service work. 38% said quality, 30% said convenience, and only 16% said they chose an independent garage because of price. So once again, the concept that consumers chose garages over dealerships because they are cheaper just doesn’t hold up.
There is an old axiom in sales that says you can have quality or you can have cheap, but you can’t have both. If you start playing the price game, you will lose. Cheap price makes you vulnerable to the competition because someone will always have a cheaper price, but if you are constantly selling value and quality, then you’ll squeeze out those other guys.
Frankly, I think the price issue is mostly a battle inside a tech or advisor’s head. If they think the prices are too high, they are. What I mean is that their perception becomes their reality, and the scary part is that they project that perception on to the customer.
As a manger, it is your job to tear down this mental block, to break the stronghold that causes advisors to fixate on price. The only way I know to combat this problem is by continually teaching and coaching your service sales staff on the vast array of benefits that your service department has to offer, such as:
- Factory-trained technicians that live and breathe your brand; it’s all they work on all day long.
- State-of-the-art tools and equipment specially engineered for today’s high-tech automobiles
- New technology preventive maintenance services with lifetime warranties
- Top-notch OEM and aftermarket parts, chemistry, oils, and lubricants that are uniquely manufactured for a custom fit every time
- Friendly and knowledgeable service sales personnel
- A safe environment for women and children in your customer lounge
- A business-friendly waiting room with free Wi-Fi and Starbucks coffee
- And a whole lot more
If you have a mid-sized shop with ten technicians, then you probably have over 150 years of experience—that’s value. Your techs are an elite fraternity of automotive professionals that have the gift of diagnosing and repairing an incredibly sophisticated, precision-made, computer-controlled, mechanical marvel called an automobile—that’s value. The boys at Goober Lube can’t do that, can they?
As a service manager, you’ve got to continually tell your fixed ops personnel that, as Rick Barrera puts it, market-domination is your birthright! Where is the best place to have a vehicle serviced in your town? It’s not a trick question; the answer, of course, is your place – your service department.
Note to dealers and general managers: Do you believe that your service team is the best in town? Do you believe the quality of work they produce and they value they give the customer far exceeds the prices they charge? If so, do you communicate it to them often? As the person at the top, your attitude in this matter is critical. If you believe it, they’ll believe it.
The priority of your service advisors is to sell – sell quality and sell value – leading to their top priority: to sell service! If they aren’t sold on the first two, then they will be ineffective at selling service.
I recently conducted a nationwide webinar on this topic; if you’d like a video download, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . You and your advisors will benefit from this fast-paced, one-hour presentation, and it would be a great kick-start to the new year for your service sales team. Happy sales to you!