What is the True Value of a Sales-to-Service Handoff?

Retention is the true value. The Sales-to-Service Handoff is vital in this cycle and should be an important focus point in your sales process. Sales customers need to leave the dealership with the knowledge of where to go and who to see for their vehicle’s service. How many of these customers could be retained by simply adding a short service introduction to the delivery process? Did you know that typically 50% or more of your service customers go away after the warranty period has expired? How much time will it save the customer and advisor? I can tell you that a proper sales-to-service handoff process saves the advisor and customer time.  A customer that doesn’t know where to go generally leaves their vehicle outside, walks in the service department and wanders around until they find somebody.  Many times the advisor pulls the vehicle in and needs to look for the customer. This wastes both parties’ time. Also, this causes the customer to be confused and frustrated.


  • Educate the sales staff so they understand the value of transitioning a sales customer into a service customer. The best sales professionals that I have observed understand this. Have a joint sales and service meeting to discuss the process.
  • If the service department is closed, have a video on a thumb drive that introduces personnel and directs your customer where to go.
  • Don’t have this become a disappearing process. Hold your salespeople accountable for implementing the process with every single one of their customers.  Current customers that know your service department will always learn something new and appreciate it.
  • The best way I have found to manage accountability is to have a worksheet that both the salesperson and service representative sign off on when the process is completed. If the signed document is not completed, the salesperson does not get paid for the sale.
  • When you are escorting your customer through the service department just don’t stop there.  Go to the parts department and the collision center if you have one.  Let there be no question in your customer’s mind where to go and who to see for any of their service needs.
  • Use something that tells everyone in the store that the customer is being introduced to fixed operations. This could be a special box that the salesperson carries with them for gifts during the introduction. The gifts could be dealer logo cups, key chains, pens, vehicle appearance items, touch up paint, or anything else you can think of.
  • Ask the guest what is the most convenient method of communication (phone, text, or email).  Believe me, if you don’t ask, they will say, “Just call me.”
  • Always have a printed copy of the maintenance schedule for their specific vehicle and attach the advisor’s business card.  Tailor the maintenance schedule for the use of the vehicle (towing, severe duty, etc.). You want to show your customer the effort that you will put forth to protect one of their largest investments. This is also a great time to schedule the first oil change.
  • Introduce them to the processes that the service department performs with each visit and the value of those processes. Explain the complimentary walk around and multi-point vehicle inspection.  Communicate to your customer that this will insure their vehicle is safe and performing as intended.
  • It is time to deliver!  If you present yourself as the best service center in town, you’d better walk the talk. If you have done a proper Sales-to-Service Handoff and the customer comes back, that is true retention. You may only get one shot to turn them into a regular service customer. Have policies and procedures in place every step of the way to ensure their satisfaction!

More and more manufacturers are using retention as a main CSI indicator.  Customers want a convenient place to bring their vehicle for service. They want to be familiar with the people and facility where they get their service. Everyone knows that the expense to keep a customer is much less than gaining a new one or trying to get back the one you lost.

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