Dentistry and Vehicle Service…What’s up Doc?

teeth and dentist tools

Surprisingly, there is a tremendous parallel between your dentist’s customer retention program and dealer service retention, which will help you build your business. It uses a cost effective process, simply called the “Next Service Due Process”. To get started, let me tell you a quick story.

One of my best friends is a dentist and during a conversation one day, I made a somewhat cutting remark about how his office staff were like a bunch of bulldogs. I came for a visit and they won’t let go…cards, reminders, phone calls, emails—they won’t let go!

He laughed and went on to say, “A consultant came to my office one day and showed me and my staff how to set the next dental appointment for my customers and how to follow up. He also showed me how it would build my clientele and how this process would build my hourly income.” My dentist friend went on to say that after two years of following these directions, he had paid off his student loans, stopped working on Saturdays, and actually started to relax a little.

Here’s where he got my attention.

He went on to say that as his “tooth maintenance” clientele grew and he witnessed a tremendous growth in the hourly production of his office through the “packing of the schedule”. Fast forward to today. He rewards his staff and himself with Fridays off (with pay) if the schedule is 90 percent preset with appointments from Monday through Thursday. Now I see why his office staff is so interested in setting the appointment and following up to confirm that I will be on time; they get the day off and with pay! Hmmmm.

How do you apply this to an auto dealership?

Here is where the Next Service Due Process comes in; it will help you grow your clientele and your dollars per hour too. Think back to the dentist’s office again. When you left, what did the dentist’s staff say?

“Thanks for coming in today. Your co-pay is $25 (handing you a business card). Here is your next scheduled visit and as always, I will call you 48 hours in advance to remind you of the upcoming visit, and if for any reason there is a conflict, we can reschedule the appointment at that time.”

That’s pretty simple. Applying this to the auto service business, we would say:

“Mr. Jones, thanks for coming in today. Your charges are $64.95. I have already set your next visit for May 16th, a Tuesday at 10:20 AM and, as always, we will give you a reminder call 48 hours prior to the visit. If you have a conflict or have not driven the scheduled mileage, we can reschedule the appointment at that time. Thanks for your business, you will find your vehicle at the front door ready to go.”

Who sets the appointment and when?

Now that we have a script, all that’s left is to answer a few questions to create a consistent process.

  • Who determines the date of the next appointment? The Advisor.
  • How do you know when to set the appointment day and time? Use the same day of the week and time that the customer used today (the assumptive close).
  • How do you determine when to bring the customer back? Looking at the vehicle information available on most ROs, you can see the original in-service date and the mileage. Using a simple calculation, you can tell how many miles the customer drives per month and from that calculation, apply the miles per month to the service schedule. Example: If the customer drives 1,000 miles per month and the factory requirements call for 5,000 service intervals, set the appointment for five months from today.
  • What if the customer is going out of the country and may not put as many miles on their vehicle? There is always someone that asks questions like this, don’t complicate things, just set the appointment. You and 99.9 percent of the people in this world have no idea what they will be doing five months from today. Exceptions can be taken care of during the “Reminder Call” process.

Applying this program to every service customer will build your service clientele, RO traffic, and income per hour. As for getting Friday off with pay—you’ll have to take that one up with your boss, the customer!

Mike Thompson is a professional consultant/trainer with Net Profit Inc, an international automotive management company serving dealers and manufacturers from Alabaster, AL since 1979. He can be contacted at 205-663-1962 or by email at



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