Optimize Your Service Department to Drive Profits and Customer Satisfaction!
Today’s auto dealerships face increasing pressure from many forces and increasingly low margins on new car sales. Your dealership cannot be competitive just selling cars alone: you need a complete dealership strategy to keep customers happy and remain profitable in competitive climates.
Your service department is an incredibly valuable path to improved profitability as well as customer retention and upsells. Customers that love your service team are much more likely to buy their next car from you, as well as other products like F&I offers.
For many dealerships the service department is treated as an afterthought and not sufficiently optimized. You will lose business to 3rd party shops if you don’t take service department optimization seriously! Below you’ll find 10 best practices for keeping your service team competitive: follow these guidelines and you’ll start to see the power and profits generated by a strong service strategy.
#1) Convenient Business Hours. We live in a busy world and service departments must adapt to their needs of their customers. You cannot expect that your customer will be available at any time that works for your team - instead you have to fit your hours around their schedule! Max suggests that at minimum dealerships offer the same business hours as Jiffy Lube, which are Monday to Saturday from 8am to 7pm and Sunday 8am to 6pm.
#2) Service Department Introduction by the Sales Department. It’s vital to introduce all customers to your service team at the time that they make the purchase. Have each customer meet the service manager and let them know who to see and when to come in for their first oil change. Establish your service department in the customer’s mind at the time of sale and you’ll be much more likely to keep them coming back. Make sure your service manager makes a positive first impression!
#3) Uniforms are Mandatory. Every service department employee must wear a clean uniform and a name tag at all times. Though this practice might seem trivial, to customers this hugely increases the perception of professionalism.
#4) Offering Quick Lube Service. Your dealership must offer a strong Quick Lube service for all makes and models. You should endeavor to make this service competitive against the current market, which means that the service is performed within 30 minutes or less and can be received without an appointment.
#5) Accountability. Service managers should check Repair Orders daily to enforce the rules such as multi-point inspections, decline lines, and walkarounds. Your management team must be dedicated to offering consistent and complete service to every customer every time.
#6) Service Clinics. Service clinics should target new car buyers to help customers learn all the features and gadgets in their new cars. Customers will typically be eager to discover everything their new car can do. Service clinics should also target cars that are out of warranty and have not been to the service department in a year or more.
#7) Online Appointment Scheduling. In today’s digital world customers appreciate being able to book appointments online and your dealership website should allow users to easily book an appointment from any device. It’s important that your online scheduling tool be able to match work complexity with the skill set of your mechanics to ensure that each appointment is being served by the right member of your team.
#8) Car Wash Service. Every car returned to the customer should be spotless! This is a key element of how customers perceive their overall experience with your service department. A customer that receives a completely clean car is much more likely to impressed with your team and come back to your dealership for service next time.
#9) Loaner Fleet Management. Today more and more dealerships are providing loaner cars to service customers. This is an important customer service feature that makes the overall service process much more convenient. However, many dealerships are not well positioned to track their loaner fleet - you need a software tool to manage loaners, transfer them into the used car department on time, and track the mileage and location of the car.
#10) Marketing Budget. Marketing is vital to any business and your service department is no exception! Most dealerships only market car sales and completely ignore marketing for services. You should build a real marketing strategy for your service department including email marketing, online advertising such as Google ads and remarketing, and more.
Dealership owners and managers have huge opportunity to grow and become more profitable through effective service department management, optimization, and marketing. These top 10 tips should help put you on the right path. If you want to learn more about running a world-class service department, contact Max Zanan today for an expert consultation.