Is a Key-Tosser Always a “Key-Tosser”?

Charlie Newsletter As an industry, we have always thought of the ultimate compliment to a service consultant to be a “Key-Tosser”. This is the customer who has enough trust and respect in their advisor that they toss the keys and say: “Do what it needs; call me when it’s done.” Very likely, this customer began their life as your customer with a lack of trust. They were frustrated because their vehicle needed service and they just did not have the time to deal with it. Your advisor, or you, recognized this and took control of the situation. You did what you said you were going to do. You got the vehicle fixed right, on time for the price quoted. Maybe this effort was repeated, but before long, the customer established so much trust in you that they became a “key-tosser”. We’ve earned this privilege and the customer continues to be a key-tosser until we give them reason not to be. Excellent!

The more dealerships that I visit, I begin to realize that there is another type of key-tosser; the one that we created but did not earn. Because of our inability to schedule work properly and our inability to conduct a consistent write-up process and our overall belief that customers are impatient, we’ve created customers who don’t want to spend a lot of time at the dealership. Therefore, we believe that our customers will not take the time for us to complete a write-up with a thorough understanding of their needs, an action plan, vehicle walk-around and menu presentation. I hear: “My customers are different.” Blah, blah, blah. This is simply not true! We created this monster and we can fix it.

Customers appreciate a consistent process. It builds value in the transaction. The first step is in scheduling. First of all, are you scheduling a time for the advisor or for the technician. If you are scheduling to an exact time for a technician, stop! Schedule time to an advisor and allocated an amount of time from the shop capacity. It is not likely that you can do an accurate job of scheduling technician start time until your advisor has a clear understanding of the customer’s concern(s). Also, the advisor should not have to try to write up multiple customers at the same time. Perform the write-up in a consistent process:

    1. Gain a clear understanding of the customer’s concern(s)
    2. Acknowledge your understanding
    3. Explain to the customer: a) What you are going to do to address their issue(s); b) When you are going to do it; c) How much it will cost
    4. Walk around the customer’s vehicle. Encourage them to join you. Pay attention to damage, tire condition and wipers
    5. Discuss maintenance needs. Every customer’s vehicle needs maintenance, some now, some later. Discuss these needs and why they should be performed by your dealership
    6. Discuss the inspection process and gain permission from customer to perform.
    7. Sincerely thank the customer for their business

If you perform these steps hit-or-miss, your customers will continue to be non-abiding key-tossers. If you perform these steps consistently, you’ll find your customers to be patient, appreciative and loyal. Then you create true “key-tossers”.

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