4 Easy Ways to Keep Service Customers Coming Back to Your Dealership

If new car sales begin to plateau, as many industry experts project, dealerships should be searching for ways to generate more profit within fixed operations. Here are four simple considerations to boost repair tickets written and capture service profit: create more customer awareness of service offerings, boost your service department's digital footprint, and train service writers to sell F&I products in the service lane.

1. MAKE YOUR SERVICE DEPARTMENT MEMORABLE

The sales process can be lengthy and is certainly filled with plenty of paperwork, but have you taken just a few minutes to educate your customers on service offerings? Get each customer more involved in the service process early on, and ensure they know the full menu of services offered at your dealership.

According to a survey by Cox Automotive, only 41% of car buyers were introduced to the service department when they purchased their vehicle. Of these customers, 53% said that introduction was a factor when they decided where to take their vehicle for service.

Your sales department is a direct pipeline to service department revenue, so consider giving the customer a tour of the service center during vehicle delivery and even introduce them to a service advisor to begin the process of establishing a relationship. Next time they need maintenance or repairs, they will feel more comfortable with the service process having a contact within the department, and one of your bay’s may get their visit.

2. SCHEDULING SERVICE ONLINE SHOULD BE SIMPLE AND TRANSPARENT

More customers expect a website that makes scheduling easy and gives updated pricing options. According to a 2015 Autopoint study, 34% of customers are more likely to use internet resources before taking their vehicles in for service. This means they are often more educated about service offerings before coming in the door and have an expectation of what it will cost.

Consider updating your website to include appointment scheduling and clearly present pricing for specific services. Online transparency and convenience will help your service department win over the typical non-warranty customer that perceives a “quick-lube” shop, tire store, or general neighborhood repair shop as the easier option and /or better value.

3. RETHINK YOUR SERVICE MENU AND HOW INFORMATION IS PRESENTED

First, dealerships are finding it easier to sell F&I products at the time of a costly repair, or when the customers’ warranties are about to expire, than it is at the sales closings. As a result, more service writers are being trained to talk about the value of service contracts and prepaid maintenance plans and how to close them. The service writer can use the dealership customer relationship management (CRM) software to track warranty expirations and notify customers of maintenance due dates.

Secondly, when a customer comes in the door and can't afford the recommended services, offer them options. Consider offering financing options to the customer and throughout the service process - online, over the phone, and on-site. This may save you from turning away that customer who might generally postpone a much-needed repair.

4. PARTNER WITH AN ADVISOR THAT CAN EVALUATE YOUR FIXED OPS PROFIT

Understanding how your fixed ops department measures up will help you hone strategies for improvement. And adding F&I products / financing options to your service lane can boost your dealership profits. Your CPA can crunch the numbers to help project the increased profitability for your store, so call HHM CPAs at 423.702.8380.

Laurie Holt