By Charlie Polston, Automotive Customer Retention and Profitability Consultant, BG Products, Inc.

Do you remember the game “telephone” we used to play when we were teenagers? The leader whispers a sentence into the ear of the person next to them. Then that person whispers the same sentence to the person next to them. And so it continues for 8-10 people. The last person says the sentence out loud – and it isn’t even close to the original words the leader actually said. Everyone gets a big laugh, and then you try again.

That same scenario happens every day in your service department. The technician fills out a Multi-Point Inspection with eight “additional service requests” totaling $2,000. The advisor fears the customer will get angry at the sticker shock and only completes the estimate for six items totaling $1,200. When the advisor calls the customer, the customer is driving and only remembers four of the items for a total of $600. When the customer gets home, he talks it over with his wife. She calls the dealership and says to do two things, totaling $200.

The dealership lost $1,800 because of poor communication. Nobody’s laughing.

In a similar scenario, the technician meticulously fills out the MPI form recommending new tires and a four-wheel alignment and faithfully attaches it to the repair order. The advisor is covered up with phones and waiters, so he passes the RO and MPI on to the cashier, who staples it all together with the visa receipt and hands it to the customer as they hurry out the door.

The dealership lost several hundred dollars and the customer left with an unsafe vehicle due to no communication. Still, nobody’s laughing.

That’s why Joe Shaker says, “Don’t change the way you do business – change how you communicate!”

Shaker is CEO and Co-Founder of TruVideo, a technology company providing video, text, and engagement data to enhance the customer experience and increase the dealership’s profitability.

Frankly, I think the effectiveness of Video MPI stems from its brilliant simplicity. The subject matter expert communicates directly to the decision-maker. The physician communicates directly with the patient. When the technician can show the vehicle owner the issues he has discovered concerning the car, nothing gets lost in translation when it is communicated in his own words. Nothing gets watered down; nothing gets edited, and nothing gets omitted.

Shaker and Warner Jones, TruVideo Head of Product, know their audience. With over 8.5 million videos viewed in the last few years, they’ve learned some valuable statistics that make Video MPI even more attractive to dealerships.

  • The average MPI Video is viewed 1.31 times. So – even in today’s fast-paced world with short attention spans, many consumers watch videos twice to absorb the message.
  • Videos get shared 39% of the time, which means it is either making it to the real decision-maker or at least to a trusted friend to get their input into decision-making.
  • The average response time is 2:27 minutes. Imagine that! Create the video, figure out the estimate, text it to the customer, and get a response in two-and-a-half minutes!
  • The most used app on the consumer’s phone is the texting app. Surveys show that 94% of consumers prefer being contacted via text.
  • After evaluating over one million ROs, the average increase with video is a staggering $55 per RO…, and the older the vehicle, the greater the increase.

The average video is 1-2 minutes long, with 1.5 minutes being the sweet spot.

So what about the digital (or paper) MPI form? Do you still need it? Shaker says yes, do both. The more I thought about this, the more it made sense. The technician fills out the MPI form during the discovery phase of the inspection. That way, he already knows what repairs are required and what maintenance services to recommend before he starts making the video.

The process goes like this:

  • The advisor gives the customer a heads up at the time of write-up, “You’ll be receiving a test from me with a video of your vehicle made by one of our factory-trained technicians – you’ll love it!”
  • After the technician makes the video, the advisor watches it first, then sends it via text to the customer. It is critical that the advisor watches the video first – the reasons are obvious – so don’t skip this vital step! Just to be clear, if there is anything inappropriately seen or said, then the video must be done over. But, the main reason is so that the advisor can give a price estimate for everything that the technician recommends – especially maintenance recommendations.
  • The advisor prepares the estimate and sends it in a second text message within 15 minutes.

Do the video MPI on every car, every time. What about low mileage cars? Every car, every time. What about cars that are still under warranty? Every car, every time. You are training the customer that this is your process – and you will follow it every time they visit your store.

“Adhere to the integrity of the process – if you don’t, then you are pretending you have a process,” Shaker said.

Speaking of the process, here’s a quick rundown of how the techs should make the video:

  • Start at the license plate with the car in the air and introduce yourself.
  • Look at the rear tires, brake pads, undercarriage, etc.
  • Move down the center, looking at the exhaust, engine and transmission, leaks, and general condition of the vehicle.
  • Look at the front tires, brakes, suspension, steering, CV boosts, etc.
  • Pause the video and lower the car.
  • Take a moment to “stage” things under the hood, including the air filter, cabin air filter, vital fluids (on a white tray), battery test printout, etc.
  • Restart the video, start under the hood, and point out all filter and fluid service recommendations and any repairs, such as worn serpentine belt, corroded battery terminals, etc.
  • Walk around the vehicle, check for the trailer hitch receiver, and end up at the hood (or front license plate if equipped.)
  • End the video with your name (again) and let them know the advisor will follow up with an estimate in a few minutes.

The video MPI is such a cool process. I hope you’ll consider it – it really works.

About the Contributor

Charlie Polston is an Automotive Customer Retention and Profitability Consultant with BG Products, Inc. Charlie has been with BG’s Fixed Operations Division for over 38 years. He has trained over 7,500 dealers, managers, and technicians – and has been a frequent workshop leader at NADA’s annual convention.

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This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 Issue of Dealer Magazine. You can view the latest digital edition as well as past issues of Dealer Magazine here.

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