3 Ways Successful Dealerships Develop Loyal Service Customers

There’s no denying the positive impact of successful service departments in top-performing dealerships. While fixed ops account for only 12% of a dealership’s total revenue, they account for 60% of net profits. In general, when a service department is thriving, a dealership is thriving.

Within a marketplace crowded with competitive offerings—including other dealerships and third-party repair shops—your service customers have more choices than ever, and their loyalty is constantly tested. Even your most dedicated brand advocates are susceptible to the onslaught of highly targeted marketing messages they’re exposed to each day at work, home, and on the go.

So how do top-performing dealerships maximize the likelihood that new customers will become return customers—and that return customers will remain loyal? A handshake and a smile no longer define a positive customer experience—but big data can, and the strategic guidance of a true data partner can help your dealership effectively sell to, service, and retain service customers whose preferences continue to evolve.

Until you accurately assess your dealership’s current performance, it’s impossible to develop a road map to success. But with every aspect of your business competing for your attention, which aspects of the customer experience should you focus on first? Here are three quick statistics and actionable insights to help your dealership develop loyal service customers, and ultimately, drive profitability at your store.

  1. About 90% of customers and prospects will schedule an appointment when asked. Work the phones and make scheduling service appointments with your customers a top priority. Allow customers to schedule appointments 24/7 to ensure their service experience works with, not against, their busy schedules.
  2. When customers are introduced to your service team, they’re 30% more likely to schedule a first appointment. After closing a sale, introduce your customer to the service team and schedule his or her first oil change. Humanizing a department that isn’t often associated with fond memories of the new car sale can go a long way.
  3. Nearly 80% of customers are influenced by negative online reviews. In many cases, a dissatisfied customer can be satisfied if an effective and efficient response structure is in place. Deploy a complaint management system to actively guide customers through a strategic series of actions triggered by their responses to electronic and phone surveys. The end result: more happy customers to promote your store.

Don’t stop at providing exceptional service each and every time a customer visits your service department. Proactively follow up with customers, resolve open issues, and address systematic failures immediately. Honest self-evaluation is key to maintaining a competitive advantage.

Nathan Usher develops and implements product direction and strategy for DealerSocket, a fully integrated automotive technology platform that helps dealerships increase profitability in all aspects of their businesses. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Cal State Fullerton and can be reached at nathan@dealersocket.com.

Nathan Usher


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