This is the first part in a three part series. Be sure to check back next week for part 2.
Service guests in today’s fast-paced world are accustomed to drive-thrus, quick lanes and other express accommodations. Most people are drawn to this type of service, and in many cases, regard price as a minor concern.
Convenience, coupled with efficiency and quality service, is the driving force behind operating changes undertaken in recent years in a variety of industries. Fast food drive-thrus were in many ways the catalyst of these changes. The banking industry caught on quickly, and even used drive-thrus to provide extended hours with minimal additional staffing requirements. The hotel industry provides express check-in and check-out to accommodate patrons ranging from frequent visitors to those who are first time visitors.
Today’s customers want, and sometimes demand, express services for their automotive needs. Automotive dealerships have responded in the past 5 to 10 years with “29-minutes-or-less” lube, oil, and filter services called “Quick Lube,” “Fast Lube,” and other catch phrases denoting fast and convenient services.
Another way to promote customer convenience and satisfaction is by implementing express drop-off and pick-up of automobiles for any type of service. Today’s consumers want to drop-off and pick-up vehicles as quickly as possible due to increased demands on their time.
Customers form a negative impression if they see long lines in the morning when they come in for an appointment. Most people allocate a predetermined amount of time for all or most of their tasks for the day—a congested service drive creates an impression that there will be a delay in dropping off the vehicle. Customers who experience long lines and delays in a dealership service drive will begin to consider alternatives.
One of the keys to success for express drop-off and pick-up is to make the customer comfortable with the process. Express drop-off and pick-up is not the traditional approach to dealership service, a fact of which the customer is keenly aware. Customers must be convinced that express drop-off and pick-up is a viable alternative to conducting business as usual, and that there are distinct advantages for them.
Much like the first visit to the service department following a purchase delivery, the first express drop-off and pick-up service experience determines the customer’s willingness to continue to use the approach. Therefore, it is vital that these visits be handled flawlessly.
Express service can be provided without any personal interaction other than by telephone. All the information necessary for the transaction is available to the dealership. The customer calls, requests service, and arranges for the appointment. The vehicle is parked in the designated parking area and the customer drops his or her keys in an express drop-off envelope to be handled by the service advisor.
Another consideration is to accommodate customers who are only able to drop off prior to starting time and/or pick up after closing.
Convenience stores and fast food franchises exist due to consumers’ demands for getting in and out quickly. The same principle applies to dealership service departments. Hassle-free, and quick drop-off and pick-up, are ways to attract and retain customers.
Both the customer and dealership service departments experience benefits associated with express service. The most obvious benefit is getting in and out for service quickly.
Customers can use express drop-off and pick-up for almost all service needs. (However, the normal/traditional drop-off procedure may continue to be recommended for complicated concerns and vehicles that require test drives.)
Express customers can bypass lines at the cashier—options for pre-billing services remove the need for a customer to spend time at pick-up with either a cashier or, in some cases, a service advisor. Express service may even eliminate the need for the customer to have a second set of keys to retrieve their vehicle with the installation of a lock box system. After-hours pickup often becomes an issue when customers cannot pick up their vehicles during normal service hours. Many dealers in industrial park areas or located near high industry concentrations provide a variation of this type of service.
Service drives have for years been perceived as centers of organized chaos, or in many cases, disorganized chaos. Express drop-off and pick-up, if properly structured, results in improved service drive utilization.
Using an “active delivery” process can reduce congestion at the cashier’s window—all invoicing and billing is handled before the customer arrives for pick-up.
Providing customers with quick and hassle-free pick-up furthers the impression that the dealership is professional and efficient and aids in service retention.
Continued next week in part 2!