As the automotive industry adjusts to a new paradigm in how to run the retail operation, it is time to think about how your sales and service departments conduct their business. Historically, there has always been a disconnect between these two departments. Each of these departments has singular objectives, different pay plans, different measurements, but work with the same customer! It is time to bring these two departments into a more harmonious relationship. How can this be done? By making a few changes in how you approach the customer. When sales make a deal and deliver the vehicle, little thought is given to the next step, which is service. The customer is left to their own initiatives in discovering when to service, how to make an appointment, where to go. Essentially, the entire process is left to the customer to discover on their own and most have no idea. Keep in mind that around every retail franchised automotive dealer is a multitude of businesses competing for the customers’ business. You have the specialized oil change facilities, the muffler shops, the automotive parts stores, etc. If you do not make a concerted effort to gain the customer’s business, you better believe your competition is going to.
So, what can be done to make sure you are in a position to gain this business? First, you begin by making service a part/parcel of the sales operation. You already have made the first sale, now it is time to ensure the customer continues to buy from you. Each and every customer should be introduced to the service department at the point of sale or upon delivery of the vehicle. They should be introduced to the Service Manager, who should walk them thru the process of obtaining service. He should ensure they have the phone number to call, introduce them to the Service Advisor(s), give them a menu of services and prices, and make their first appointment. All this should be done before the customer leaves your store and is barraged with offers from your competition which seem to be too good, but in fact, are just an attempt to steal them away from you. This is a critical step that is missing from so many retail operations. If you have a program in place to provide the customer with discounted or complimentary oil changes you have an offer that cannot be beaten!
Remember that sales market and entices the customer to make the purchase of a vehicle and they are good at this. They will generally spend several hours to sell, paper, and deliver the vehicle. Then they are finished and move on to the next customer. They stop short of completing the store mission of handling all of a customer’s automotive needs. It is time to change this so that you have a seamless operation. Let excellent service generate the revenue to run your business and it will also provide you with the second sale. Studies have shown that people who service with a dealer return to the same dealer 86% of the time to buy again. What a wonderful thing it is to have a repeat buyer!
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