By Tiffany Peeler, VP of Sales & Operations at Proactive Dealer Solutions
Since the pandemic, industry buzz has been about modern retailing for sales. A recent study found that 90 percent of car shoppers prefer a dealership where they can start the buying process online. If you want to win more deals you have to offer online shopping tools, but what about service?
If modern retailing is all about offering customers the best experience, why should that experience end with the vehicle sale? Kick off 2023 with a resolution to win in a competitive service market by implementing a modern retailing strategy. Here’s how to get started.
Process map the customer journey. What does your customer experience when they interact with your service department? Put yourself in their shoes to find the pitfalls. Pick up the phone and make an appointment. Go to your website and use your online scheduling tool. Observe what happens when customers arrive for an appointment. Too often, customers complain that online forms and service option lists are too long, or no one picks up the phone, or even when they have an appointment, they still have to wait in line once they arrive.
Start thinking about how to address each pain point. For example, if your online scheduling tool is difficult to find and cumbersome to use, prominently display a link on your home page and streamline forms and option lists. Better yet, add a text box where customers can briefly describe the service or repair needed. Having a hard time answering calls? Consider implementing a digital voice assistant to handle and appoint inbound service calls.
Synchronize online with the drive. Customers expect that when they make an appointment online and describe the service needed, that information will flow to the drive. An online scheduler doesn’t do any good if customers have to repeat the information they’ve already given once they enter your department. You lose customers when they feel like you’re wasting their time.
Consider printing out all the appointments for the day so an advisor simply has to find the customer’s name and all the details are there. Or, install an electronic whiteboard that populates with the day’s appointments. Customers walking in will see their names and immediately feel expected and welcome.
It’s key to help customers with appointments first, before walk-ins. Don’t make the customers who’ve followed the process you want them to (booking an appointment) wait in line. Take care of them first. Walk-ins will quickly learn that making an appointment speeds up the process and results in better service.
Advise, don’t sell. Both online and in the drive you want to upsell services. However, customers don’t want the hard sell. They want to see the reasoning and value behind what you’re offering. Transparency and the benefit to the customer are crucial to selling additional services.
Start thinking about ways to promote options online that are easy to understand. For example, creating package options. A customer who needs an oil change will see the $30 oil change, then the $199 package and what that entails, then the $500 package and what that includes. Be clear about the value of each service and transparent with the pricing. Even if the customer chooses only the oil change, you’ve primed the pump to have a conversation in the drive about what else you can offer.
In the drive, remember that customers believe what they see, not what you say. Train your techs on how to take clear, compelling inspection videos and how to make recommendations based on the video evidence.
Hold team meetings. We’re talking about big changes. You have to get everyone on board. Start with weekly meetings, then two to three times per week, and eventually every day once the practice becomes a habit. Every meeting only needs to be about 10 minutes. This is the time to talk about the day’s goals, brush up on technical skills (like taking inspection videos), and reinforce your modern retailing processes. Quick team meetings also reinforce that your service department is a team working together to benefit the entire dealership.
Modern retailing is all about offering customers the best experience. That shouldn’t end on the showroom floor. Bring modern retailing to your service drive to boost retention and customer satisfaction.