What typically does a service manager struggle with concerning a consistent advisor process? In my dealership travels, there is one thing I hear over and over, walk arounds. When selling any kind of product or service, it’s a much easier sell if the customer, whom I prefer to call our guest, can see, feel, touch, or smell the product. Did you ever think where we are the most comfortable? It probably is in our home, and our vehicles are basically our home away from home. People in general make decisions when they are comfortable.
That’s why service drive vehicle walk arounds with the guest present are so effective.
In most cases, the only time the guest is face-to-face with the service advisor is when the vehicle is brought in for service. This is probably the only time the guest will actually be able to physically see what services are actually needed. The walk around is the one chance the service advisor has to point out needed service work and show the guest first hand what’s needed. In order to take advantage of selling service while the advisor is face-to-face with the guest, the walk around should be as comprehensive as possible.
One of the best ways to ensure that the walk around is consistent is to create a checklist. Do you have a written, consistent checklist that your advisors use? The basic concept is to let the guest know first-hand what service work is needed. Ask the guest to join you. Selling needed service work on the drive, with the guest present, home away from home, can increase the likelihood of additional sales.
When the advisor performs a walk around, they’re looking for additional service work that’s unrelated to the guest’s main concern. Also, identifying any damage on the vehicle before it goes into the shop protects you and the dealership. Ideas for the walk around checklist need to be simple, fast, and easily performed on the service drive. With this in mind, some ideas for the walk around checklist may include:
- Tire depth and condition
- Wipers, front and rear
- Battery condition
- Belts and hoses
- Fluid status
- Bulbs and lights
- Body damage
All these issues allow the customer to touch, feel, smell, or see what service work is actually needed. Tire depth and wear issues can lead to an up sell of tires, alignment and shocks. A battery tester can be easily be used to check the condition of the battery and alternator.
For fluid conditions, show the customer what clean fluids look like compared to their dirty fluids. Put the different fluids on white towel as a sample for comparison. Suggest a fluid exchange. Some of these issues may require further diagnosis. The important thing is that the guest realizes, without a doubt, that the concerns raised by the service advisor are verified and valid. If there is body damage and you have a collision center, a free estimate can be offered.
If the service drive is extremely busy, the advisors may be more reluctant to do a thorough walk around. If the service department uses a porter or a service greeter, let them help with the walk arounds. Arm the porter or greeter with a walk around checklist, battery tester, and tire depth gauge. After the checklist is completed, the porter can report any needed service to the advisor. The advisor can then communicate any findings with the guest and show them what’s needed.
I highly recommend that periodical reviews concerning walk arounds are conducted with your advisors. Have a comprehensive step-by-step evaluation check sheet for your reviews. This will establish a consistent process performed by all your advisors. Have role plays and video them for continuous improvement.
Also, consider having displays that are professionally done to visually show your guests needed services. As mentioned above, people are visual and this has a much greater impact. Your dealership can be successful with walk arounds if a managed, accurate, and consistent process is being completed with your guests.