Long Term or Last Time – Which Do You Focus On?

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Service does not always get the respect it deserves in the dealership. At its worst, it’s “Us vs. Them” mentality with the sales department, and at best there is a co-existence that barely crosses paths.

Which is crazy, since Fixed Ops has become the bread and butter for the dealership. In times where new car sales are down and the profit margin on new cars is ever shrinking, there is a 60% average profit margin for automotive service labor. There should be a full blown integration between the departments, but we know that is not happening, especially in the BDCs.

It is time to put some long-term thinking into our approach, or it may be the last time we see our customers.

Long Term Service Customer

Just like with a long-term relationship, there are many things you have to think about before jumping in, and aspects that you must manage to make things work once they get going. A Service BDC is not a “set it and forget it” product you can buy, but rather a culture that reflects your dealership and attitude towards customer experience.

Experience At The Forefront

The customer experience is not a luxury or an afterthought, but a necessary aspect of your service department. 59% of customers stated if they were delighted with their service, they would return to the dealership. How you treat your customers will determine whether they come back to your dealership or not. You need to give them a reason to view your service department as their best option for great service.

58% of drivers want to drive their vehicle into the ground and the average age of a car is 11.5 years. These statistics mean two things:

1Cars are being driven much longer, which means more maintenance.

2People want to drive their cars until they can no longer run, which means they need regular service.

And honestly, an oil change is an oil change. But knowing that every time you bring your vehicle in for an oil change that factory trained and certified technicians will be working on your vehicle brings the experience to a new level.

The sparkling waiting room with chargers available does not hurt, either.

But great customer service comes with more than coffee, cookies, and knowing your technician is GM Certified. It comes from the very moment they search you to the minute they pull into your lane.

Optimize Your Digital Dealer Presence

How much real estate does service department have on your website? For such a revenue generator, I am willing to bet that less than 10% of your website is dedicated to service. There may be one tab that leads to parts and service, and that is it.

It is time to give more recognition to service on your website. And a number listed on the upper right-hand side and upper tab don’t count.

Mobile Optimization

75% of customers between 18-44 used mobile to search service departments. Are you prepared for this? If your site is not responsive, then customers will bounce off of it quicker than they found it.

75% of customers between 18-44 used mobile to search service departments.

Do you know what responsive means? If not, that is where to start.

Shifts in Service Spending – Especially Digital

Even though we know 53% of all drivers use search when looking for service, we continue to send out mailers and print coupons. It’s not that they don’t have a place, but there needs to be a higher spend on digital advertising, geo-targeting, and social media and less on old methods that many ignore.

Dealership Name Recognition

Make sure the customer knows your dealership by name. That will come with increased digital presence, but also word of mouth.

Only 13% of people questioned were aware of their dealership service department. 13%!

Only 13% of people questioned were aware of their dealership service department.

On that note, 32% of drivers age 18-44 did not know which service center to visit. That number will go down with a really good digital presence. Be the first listing on the SRP when they search service in your area.

If they know your name because they were dissatisfied, don’t ignore it! Customer satisfaction is going down in the service lanes since 2013, and sharing that dissatisfaction is going up. Customers who are less likely to return has dropped 12% in the last three years, and the likelihood to post an online review has risen 17%! The less satisfied they are, the more vocal they are.

If you do things the way they have always been done, you will not worry about this, and in the process will lose current and future customers. Be forward thinking and respond to customers. Call them when they are dissatisfied and make sure to right any wrongs that may have occurred.

But you need a process to do that!

Service Department Training

Training is an investment with multiple layers. Whether you decide to move forward with online training, face to face training, or a blended approach, your training needs to highlight the processes that will make your dealership successful. Process beats talent every day. But process with talent equals incredible success.

Last Time Service Customer

If you are all about the “This is the way we have ALWAYS done it” mentality, then this is where you will live. The Last Time way of thinking states that customers come in, get their service done, and leave. There is no special treatment, no reaching customers where they are and meeting their expectations.

This can get very expensive, because with no expectations comes no retention. And then you will be marketing to, calling, and emailing these customers to come back to the dealership.

It would cost a whole lot less to give them a great customer experience in the first place and keep them as customers.

Let’s Talk About It

Do you currently have a service specific BDC set up at your dealership?

How are you focusing more on long term and less on Last Time?

The Google Path to Purchase article was the catalyst for this article. The data within is from the Google Research: http://www.carcare.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Google-Service-Path-to-Purchase-Study.pdf