As our service industry experiences more changes over the next 5-10 years, there will be plenty of challenges in reducing customer defection, apathy and disenchantment in the service drive. The good news…we will still have the responsibility of providing the “fixed” profits of the dealership, just with less customers and less opportunity.
One way you can start combating this customer defection and loss of revenue is to start with becoming more transparent in your service business. Giving the customer even more information along with more choices is one way you can start decreasing fixed operations profit bleed.
Transparency is nothing new in our business. Every sales department must provide all the pertinent details on every advertised vehicle for sale or lease. Every car commercial I have heard on the radio since the 90’s is 3 parts vehicles and 7 parts disclaimers. Pick up the newspaper on Sunday and read through the ads…information followed by tons of disclaimers. It’s nothing new.
Remember, the real reason to be transparent is to build a relationship. The more information and choices you give your customer, the better it is for your service department.
Statistics from a recent article (Digital Dealer November 2016, Erik Nachbahr) on dealership phones had some surprising results regarding phone conversions and the residual effect on transparency. Call Revu analyzed data from 960,066 Fixed Ops calls and found the following:
23% of incoming calls never connected with an agent.
45% of all attempted calls resulted in an appointment.
74% of connected calls resulted in a price inquiry, inventory inquiry or appointment.
18% of service calls are status checks on vehicles.
You won’t be very transparent if you don’t answer the phone and convert that opportunity into an appointment. Think of transparency as just a word meaning “communication bridge.” Your service process, price and perceptions are better off with the customer not having any preconceived or misconstrued notions regarding what you do, how you do it and for whom you do it.
Here is an excerpt from another article regarding our customers and transparency in the dealership.
“Consumers Do Not Have a Good Sense of Repair Costs and Are Therefore Suspicious of Pricing When asked about prices they’d expect to pay for various types of auto service, most consumers expected huge ranges in prices across different types of service providers. For example, consumers’ expectations about the cost of common repairs ranged dramatically above and below the actual median cost…Consumer expectations of pricing varies across service providers and they are nervous they will over-pay.” (GFK Automotive White Paper, 2013)
Based on the above articles, we need to have clarity and be more transparent in our communications. Listed below are 7 ways your dealership can be more transparent.
- Add as much information about your service department as possible to your website. And make the information easy to find. No scrolling around 3 different pages to find your service hours or the “About You” page. Make it easy for the customer to find the information they need.
- Put frequently asked questions on the website, post them in the waiting room on a poster, make a flyer and have them available at the advisor’s desk. FAQ’s are not just about the service departments hours and phone number. If you are going to the trouble of doing it, then do it right. Answer questions about shuttle hours, Uber, the waiting room amenities, average length of time to complete a service, how many techs do you have…anything and everything about your service department can become a FAQ.
- Breakdown recommended services into chewable sizes of information. For example, if your service department does a tire rotation with every oil change, make sure the customer is aware of that. One way to do this is of course, the old A, B, C service or Basic, Intermediate and Total Service categories. Each level includes the basics, like oil change and tire rotation. Then you build out what the AVERAGE model of your brand needs additionally at these intervals to maintain their vehicle and now you have something you can hand the customer and start a conversation with them.
- Please take a minute, find your web master, internet person…whomever has the duty of updating the pictures on your website and put pictures of all your customer facing service staff on the website. Many people cruise the dealerships website to see what their service team and advisor look like before they go into the service department. They just want to have a familiar face to look for. Give it to them.
- List the over the front counter price of the most commonly purchased parts. Typically, this list includes oil filters, cabin filters, air filters and the like. These prices should be in alignment with what they customer would pay in service. More and more dealerships are going to a one price model for parts.
- Provide a list of the tires sizes you keep in stock and post them on the website. There is not a week that goes by without a customer asking in the service drive “Do you guys sell tires? I didn’t know if you did or not. I don’t see anything on your website.” So many tire sales are lost due to the customer assuming you don’t sell them because they did not see them listed on the website.
- Provide a list of the 10 most common competitive repairs and post them on the website. This list is comprised of frequent and common everyday repairs that you are most likely to be shopped on. Anytime a customer calls in and asks about something on the list, it is an opportunity for your fully phone trained advisor to convert that call into an appointment.
Transparency will continue to exert it’s influence on our dealerships through the insatiable need for the customer to have a constant stream of information regarding anything and everything about their vehicle(s), the service required to maintain it and the dealership service team.
Anything you can do to bridge the gap between “I don’t know what you guys do” to “Oh, I get it” will be the key to building relationships that last and keep more repeat customers coming into your dealership. Start building transparency in your dealership and decrease customer defection, develop long lasting and profitable relationships with your customers and remain profitable.
About the Author
Leonard Buchholz is a Leadership and Service Sales Process Coach and a former Marine. He is the lead trainer at CarBizCoach, a fixed operations training company.
Author: Contributing Writer
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