Having the opportunity to visit many dealers across the nation, I have continually questioned the reasoning as to why we all offer the same services, but only some of us are profitable. Every store has its own identity and does business differently, but the bottom line is that the products and services being offered are almost identical.
Why are some businesses profitable while others are not? The answer is simply convenience.
Every great service department is convenient for their customers. If you are not doing everything you can to be of convenience to your customers, they will drive to the dealer down the street who offers the same services as you at the same, competitive price. So, what does “convenience” actually mean? It means that you satisfy your customer’s needs. Let’s face it; getting your car serviced is usually a hassle in the eyes of most customers. People are busy. They do not want to take the time to bring their car in and wait around for you to diagnose and/or work on their vehicle. They also do not want to be stranded without a vehicle. People have lives that must go on. Identifying what customers view as inconvenient will help you provide solutions for them.
Customers have to work to make a living. This means that if the service department does not have hours outside of the normal working day, some customers cannot manage to make it in and are forced to go elsewhere. A normal service department should be open later in the evening as well as open on the weekends. This is not extended hours. This is the norm. The independent service departments are open which means that you have to compete with that. Also, providing snacks, coffee and water for your customers is a must. Customers see this as major convenience when they are waiting on their vehicles. Another thing that is of upmost importance is providing internet that actually works. Just because you provide an internet signal does not mean that it is not slow and occasionally unusable. People need a way to continue on with their day. This ranges from working to using social media to help pass the time.
Many customers would come to your store if they felt there was a way to drop their car off, get to work and not be hassled. The way to do this is to first provide appointments for your customers. This way they can plan ahead of time to drop their car off before work or on their lunch break. Next, you must provide some sort of shuttle service or loaner cars. This is a huge convenience to anyone who cannot afford to miss any part of their busy day. Another option is to provide work stations for your customers with laptops. Any way to make the customer’s day as convenient as possible will make your departments more profitable.
Lastly, while all of these things will help ensure that customers will enjoy their experience with your store, there are a few things that can be done to create customer loyalty. Service advisors must follow up with their customers. Keep them updated throughout the process. Afterwards, keep in touch with the customer to make sure that everything is still working properly.
In conclusion, if we want to grow our fixed operations departments, we must get more convenient.