“We open at 7:30 in the morning and take our customers first come, first serve.”
Have you ever heard that? Chances are, you have. We should have retired that phrase 15 years ago but, unfortunately, it still happens!
So, your customer, who needs maintenance performed on their vehicle, has two choices.
- They can get to your dealership at 6:30 in the morning to avoid having to block traffic in the boulevard in front of your dealership, drop their car off to an advisor who tells them “Barring anything unforeseen, we ought to be able to service your car today.”
- They can go to the local independent service provider (ISP) at whatever time they desire (7 days a week, in most cases) and get their vehicle serviced while they wait.
If this is your dealership, WAKE UP! We live in a society where our entire market system is based on CONVENIENCE! Think about it Do you pay someone to clean your house, or wash your car, or mow your lawn? Probably. We live in an extremely busy society that worships convenience! We probably experience more change and innovation in a year than our parents or grandparents experienced in a lifetime. Yet, many of us are treating our service customers the same way we did 15 or 20 years ago. And the ISP’s want to thank us.
FACT: 70% of customers defect from our dealership by the time their base warranty expires. Yet, these customers will, overwhelmingly, admit that the best place to have their vehicle serviced is the dealership. But…the dealership is soooo inconvenient. What do we do about it?
- Scheduling You must implement a scheduling system that will allow and cause service advisors to set appointment times and promise times that are not only convenient for the customer, but accomplishable by the advisor. This can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want it. Remember the K.I.S.S. theory (Keep It Simple – Stupid). The most important part is determining:
- What is an appointment? A time for write up or a time to be worked on?
- What is a promise time? A promise for completion or a promise for additional information?
- Where in the transaction do we give a promise time? At write-up or when we know?
- What is a wait? Isn’t everyone waiting?
Answering these questions are the key ingredients to having a successful scheduling system. Scheduling is all about MANAGING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS! But if you haven’t determined the answers to the above questions and communicated these answers to everyone involved, you can’t accomplish this feat with any consistency.
- Infrastructure Can your infrastructure support the challenges that we are placing on our people to improve convenience to our customer? We must train our advisors to communicate promise, diagnosis, or status times to our customers and we must have a structure (dispatch, teams, groups, etc.) that will allow these commitments to happen.
There are a lot of things that we can do to improve our convenience to our customers, including, but not limited to:
- Extended hours
- Pickup and delivery
- Customer amenities
- Quick service lanes
- Car washes
But none of these will have a huge impact if you can’t provide the basic convenience of write-up or appointment times and promise times. We hope that this will tickle your aspirations to look at the current processes and determine what you can do to improve upon them.