Recently, on the first day at a new client dealership, I walked into the service manager’s office, introduced myself to the service manager, and said, “Good morning.” I could tell by his body language and lack of enthusiasm that something was bothering him. I asked, “Is there something wrong?” His reply was, “Over the weekend, I received three negative online reviews that were a result of our price for an oil change.” I immediately thought that this was an opportunity to delve into the issue and perhaps be of value to my new client.
I asked the service manager if he had recently performed a competitive market survey to verify that their pricing was indeed non-competitive, and his response was, “No, I have not.” So, let us start here. We put a list together of the three closest O.E. retailers and five aftermarket providers of maintenance service operations. After completing the surveys of these eight providers, we determined that my client’s prices were about eight percent below the market rate for not only oil changes but also other high labor operations performed while servicing a vehicle.
Our conversation quickly turned to, “What are we doing to promote the value of our service department?” Our next task was to call the dealership to make an appointment for an oil change. Upon doing so, the business development center fielded the call. When we asked the representative, we were told that an oil change was $99.95 plus tax and that an appointment was offered for that afternoon. No additional information was communicated.
My next step was to interview the service advisors regarding our oil change price, and unanimously they responded that our prices were too high as well.
I then realized that this was an excellent opportunity to provide my coaching in building the value of doing business with their service department.
I asked my manager and each service advisor to make a list of value-added services that we offer with a visit to our service department. The items were as follows:
- Free multi-point vehicle inspection
- Complimentary alignment and tire tread check
- Complimentary car wash
- Complimentary shuttle service
- O.E. oil filter and premium synthetic oil that is the correct viscosity for the vehicles that we service
- Free battery test with a printout
- Topping off windshield wiper solvent
- Inflating tires to correct pressures
- Large inventory of parts and tires
- All services carry a warranty
- Factory-trained technicians
- Express service for convenience
- 90-day financing with no interest charges available
- Waiting area with Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks and beverages
After performing this task, I determined that our next step was training the team to build “the value” into our business. Two meetings were held. The first meeting was with the business development manager and her team. We developed a script for inbound calls that complemented the activities and value that goes into each visit. We role-played calls until all representatives felt comfortable with our script and could demonstrate their proficiency in delivering it.
After the close of business that day, the service manager and I met with all of the advisors, shared with them our market survey findings, and performed training to communicate to our customers that value was not determined by pricing but by the total experience of doing business with our dealership and our service department.
The next morning when I arrived, the service manager went as far as to develop our market survey on a laminated copy for each advisor with the market survey results, and on the flip side, a list of all the ancillary activities that provide our guests an experience that is not available elsewhere in our market and the value that we provide.
In conclusion, I recommend completing regular market surveys and training your staff, with a focus on separating price from value. This is a substantial difference! The negative online reviews will disappear!