Bring Customers In With a Service Package for Maintenance Work
Maintenance work not only keeps your customers safe on the road, but it also brings those customers back into the service department. Mike Volkman, creator of Service Department Solutions, a service and parts department consulting group, says maintenance work plays a large role in keeping customers present in the business.
“[Retention] is a big thing,” Volkman says. “The reason you have maintenance work and the reason you do it is so that when a customer needs a repair, the dealership can capture them for that repair and this is where you make your money.”
Once vehicles are off the lot, it doesn’t mean that dealerships should write off the customer or hope he or she brings the vehicle to the service center when seeking repair assistance. According to a survey by Cox Automotive in 2016, “less than one in three service visits are conducted at a dealership.”
It’s important to keep customers’ vehicles protected, and while maintenance work may seem insignificant to purchase when a vehicle is working properly, Volkman describes how it becomes easier to provide when there’s a plan in place at the dealership.
As told to Kiley Wellendorf
It’s a team effort to get approval for maintenance work, so it’s important to have some procedures in place beforehand. I think a good way to get everyone involved is to set up an introduction following a new car sale that will walk the customer through what sort of maintenance is required for a vehicle.
Never use the hammer when discussing what could be done for maintenance. You should never say to your customer that their warranty can be voided. Once a customer knows what type of maintenance his or her vehicle needs, it’s easier for to plan out his or her next visit.
Service departments need to start by having some sort of maintenance service contract in place that retains the customer. You can sell maintenance packages that package maintenance work together such as belts and hoses. It’s like when you go to the dentist—you may be there for a specific reason, but you’re going to get an overall check-up on your teeth. I’ve seen dealerships sell maintenance packages and have a penetration of 30–35 percent and their customer loyalty spikes up to 70–80 percent.
If you’re looking to bring customers back right away, you might want to start somewhere with a coupon or incentive to come back. I’ve seen manufacturers like Toyota give you free maintenance for the first two years with your vehicle, which can really draw the customer back into the service department.
When you put together a service maintenance contract, you can make scheduled maintenance checks based on mileage. For example, your service department can have a 6,000-mile check, 12,000-mile check, or you might even do an 18,000-mile package for X amount of dollars.
When you create the service maintenance package, you have to make sure that everyone is on the same page. It’s important to have all language set in place so everyone on the team knows what the contract consists of.
Make sure the information is visible for everyone in the office—you should have a chart or information printed out and readily available. Customers are more likely going to respond positively if they see the information presented in front of them. Whenever something is in writing, people tend to believe it more than if you just talk about it.
Lastly, you have to be able to back up your claims about maintenance work. Let customers know that this package is meant to keep their car in tact and help them back on the road safely. When customers know their taken care of, then they become a return customer later down the road.