For the past few years, many dealers and manufacturers have been offering complimentary oil changes for a specified length of time in an effort to increase “Customer Retention.” I believe this is a great idea, but what processes are in place to ensure that we can complete the service and exceed the customer’s expectations within a reasonable amount of time?
Have we communicated with our staff and expressed the importance of following all the steps necessary to complete the service in an hour or less? Here recently, we were put to the task to analyze the dealerships ability to schedule an appointment for an oil change, tire rotation and multi-point vehicle inspection.
The process started by calling the dealership anonymously to schedule the appointment. I was quite surprised that most dealerships I called answered the phone with a polite, friendly voice, and were fairly accommodating. Though a small amount of the dealers put me on hold for an extended amount of time when I tried to make an appointment at the busiest time of the day; 8:00 am or noon. I asked several questions during the call to see just how well the person making the appointment could accommodate my needs.
Next, I measured the amount of time the customer waited to have a repair order created and moved to the lube rack. This is an area where we can all make improvements. Having adequate staffing at the busiest time of day to meet and greet the customer is critical! We can all agree that customers dropping off their vehicles on their way to work are generally pushed for time, but the process still needs to be followed every single time. Are your advisors performing a walk around, presenting a menu, and explaining the Multi-point inspection? You would be surprised how many times the “Multi-point” inspection is not introduced to the customer.
I now move onto the lube rack, timing how long the actual service and Multi-Point inspection takes to complete. Most dealerships employ “C” technicians to perform routine maintenance services. Most receive little or no training at all because “It’s Just An Oil Change.” I wonder how we can expect our employees to exceed our customer’s expectations without the proper tools and training. Very few dealers stock common oil and air filters in the lube bay because nobody wants to be responsible for controlling the inventory. They would rather have the customer wait while the lube technician goes to the back counter. He or she may have to go back for a second time should the customer need an air filter. I was amazed at the amount of inspections where additional services were needed, but not presented to the customer until they were at the cashier window. How are you going to capture the additional sales when the customer is ready to leave? We should be training the technicians to perform the inspection first and present their findings to the service advisor, not after the vehicle is done.
Finally, we move onto closing out the repair order and hopefully following our “Active Delivery” process. In most dealerships, the service advisor closes out the repair order. This is where the train can really come off the tracks. The customer is patiently waiting to pay the bill, only to find out they need an air filter, but it will only take a minute for the technician to install a new one, right? Wrong! We have failed to value our customer’s time.
As a manager, invest some time and develop a process for your team to follow when performing this basic service. Look for opportunities where you can make improvements. After all, it’s not Just Another Oil Change!