The gross from your Service Department is your bread and butter. While new and used vehicle sales have great times and down times, customers always need Service.
Our customers over their lifetime are worth tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. In today’s world, customers are looking for convenience, competitive pricing and a good experience. Our customers are defecting from our dealers at a higher rate than ever. Have you ever calculated the time, effort and advertising dollars it takes to acquire a new customer?
Depending on the reason for defection, there is also the potential negative word-of-mouth that a lost customer brings, whether they left because of price or a poor customer experience. They can easily tell their family, friends, and now social media. And now many of these potential people choose not to come in.
Having a plan in place to retain every possible customer is critical. Let’s talk about some options we have.
- Marketing or Advertising: I know we all have advertising budgets and use them to find new customers. Let’s talk about retention marketing. Should we not be devoting a portion directly to our customers? Through my travels in our great country, most of the time (well over 80% of the time), our advisors are not even asking for email addresses. You can use your database for normal addresses and spend a $1.25 and up (per piece) for direct mail to contact your customers or use email at a minimal cost. With email we can contact our customers more often and they get it faster at minimal cost. If we are going to use email contacting customers more often, it should always contain information about our services and something beneficial to our customers. Example subject line: Under- Inflated Tires Can Cost You Fuel Mileage.
- Pain Points: Do we have the process in place to make a customer’s experience convenient and minimize wasted time? Evaluate pain points that may be costing your people time and effort that could be solved through technology. Use technology to communicate with your customers. Use text, mail, automated emails and online status updates. This can decrease costs and increase revenue by allowing your people to handle more customers. This can lead to a service work load increase–and increased customer satisfaction.
- Experience: Make sure your customers feel appreciated through providing a wonderful customer experience. Make sure you have nice place for them to sit, watch television, surf the internet and enjoy free WI-FI. Offer shuttle service to work, the mall, or a nearby restaurant. Your customers value convenience. The less time they are waiting in your lounge, the less they feel as if your service department takes too long. Consider a pick-up and drop-off option. Offer these things and you will decrease customer defections.
- Follow-Up: Following up with your customer post-service is vital to identify any problems they may have experienced.
Consider all the options we have discussed and retain more of your customers.