Last(ing) Impressions

Great last impressions leave lasting impressions. We often say, “Only one chance to make a great first impression”. I would submit that we can all agree with that. Also, a great first impression can help the entire service experience go much more smoothly.  Just like a good book or movie, we need a great beginning, very solid story in the middle, then a great ending… to keep them coming back for the sequel. That is why we need a great last impression, to keep ‘em coming back. Perhaps, sometimes we overlook the importance of the last impression.

It has been said that people remember how you treat them, not what you say.

There are many ingredients that make up a great last impression. It starts as early as the update phone call or visit to the lounge with the customer. We need to be sure that we present all the information on the condition of the vehicle. Once the vehicle is completed, the customer deserves and expects a clear explanation of work completed and exact charges. Or, if the customer is not present, this is the time to get a great Pre-Delivery completed over the phone. Execute the same explanations over the phone as when the customer is in the lounge.

After that piece, it is time to shine one last time. Quite often I hear something along the lines of, “Ok, all set, the cashier will have your keys and final invoice. Head over to the window and your car is right on the side. See you next time.”  While that is not necessarily rude, it sure does not provide a “Lasting Impression” made by a great “Last Impression.”

A great last impression starts with so many of the same pieces used to make a great first impression. Use the customer’s name and thank them once again for coming in, allowing us to earn their respect and giving us the opportunity to earn their business. Remind them again of any possible upcoming services and prepare them for their next service visit. Ask a simple question, “Is there anything else we can do to assist you today?” Escort them to the cashier or back to the service counter for final invoice and paperwork.  Seems simple, but important. One last time, invite the customer back. I will suggest, “We look forward to seeing you on your next visit.” The word “visit” is welcoming and encompasses the entire dealership. We want the customer to feel comfortable to come back and visit the dealership for any of their needs.

The last piece is their vehicle. Where is the car? The vehicle must be staged or brought to the customer. Not just parked on the side or somewhere out back. Depending on your facility, staging may be right outside the door or delivering the car in the service drive. Also, always remember to consider cold or inclement weather. If staging is needed, ensure the area is clearly marked and always open to park completed vehicles. Make the delivery special–this is the final impression that will have the customer feeling appreciated. They will remember how they were treated and you will create a lasting impression.

Written by Paul Wisner

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