By Lawson Owen, Founder and CEO, Proactive Dealer Solutions
There was a time when drivers didn’t expect to get more than 100,000 miles out of their cars. Today, it’s not unheard of for cars to last 200,000 miles or more. The scarcity and sky-high prices of new inventory means even more people are holding onto older vehicles.
Drivers are looking to you to help keep those older cars running. It’s no wonder service departments across the country are overbooked and overloaded. How can you get ahead of this service chaos? Following are five things you can do today to ease the service crunch and increase customer satisfaction.
1. Educate Your Customers – We all know what’s happening in the industry with vehicles going for thousands over MSRP – but many customers have no clue. They need you to educate them on current chip and supply chain issues and why only those who truly need a vehicle should be buying right now. That’s why it’s more important than ever for drivers to keep up with regular maintenance. We don’t know when inventory will rebound. It’s best to explain that the current vehicle may have to last for longer than the customer expected.
2. Evaluate Your Messaging – Educate your customers through service-specific messaging across channels, including email, text, and mailers. Highlight why customers are holding onto older cars and how that is affecting your service department. Long wait times to get into a shop are the norm now due to the influx of customers and the Great Resignation affecting techs, in particular. If you can get in front of the situation with clear communications your customers will be more understanding and less likely to defect to the Jiffy Lube down the street.
3. Reach Out Proactively – Mitigate long wait times by proactively reaching out to customers due for a service. This will help front-load your shop so you’re more equipped to handle those issues that can’t wait, like a steering-wheel wobble or rattle under the hood. Pull a list from your CRM of customers due for routine maintenance in a month and schedule them now. If your shop is currently booking three to four weeks out, you need to call even earlier.
4. Reallocate Resources – Now is not the time to have your BDC or Service Managers focusing on declined services. A best practice a year or two ago is not a best practice today. Instead, reallocate your resources to manage loyal customers through the chaos. Outreach should be focused on front-loading the shop so loyal customers don’t have to wait weeks for routine maintenance. Right now is not the time to do conquest business.
5. Enlist Help to Answer Phones – Too many inbound phone calls go unanswered when your shop is running at capacity. An affordable solution to ensure every call connects is to enlist the help of a Digital Voice Assistant (DVA) integrated with your online scheduling tool and DMS. A DVA can answer routine questions (such as service shop hours), collect customer information, schedule an appointment, make recommendations for additional services based on customer history, and even set up alternative transportation. When businesses across the board are struggling to hire, a DVA is that perfect employee who never calls in sick, never arrives late, and never asks for appointment bonuses. The best part? A DVA frees up human employees to make outbound customer calls and give a great experience to belly-to-belly customers.
There’s incredible value in managing your loyal service customers as they are keeping their cars longer. Clear communication, shop loading strategies, and adoption of technology can help you get ahead of service chaos and deliver a great customer experience.
About the Author
Lawson Owen is the founder and CEO at Proactive Dealer Solutions, the largest independent business development consulting firm in North America.