A smooth-running dealership has a 100% absorption rate through its service drive. No dealership I know of runs that smoothly, however. Most fall into the range of 60% to 80%.
The obvious question then becomes: How can a general manager increase traffic through the service drive? The answers are as simple as how a GM would increase sales:
- By automating the processes;
- By holding staff accountable for hitting key metrics; and
- By utilizing all available tools for generating more revenue.
How do you go about automating service procedures? Your customer relationship management (CRM) software is the key. Ninety days after a new car is bought, you should send the customer a “time to change the oil” letter. A coupon is a nice touch, but is often unnecessary if you mention how valuable it will be to record that first service record for the vehicle.
Think like excited automobile buyers—they actually read through the owner’s manual. (OK, they glanced at it a little.) They were excited to see a page or two in the manual to record service events. Of course, they will never fill that page out, but they have the best of intentions to do so. By contacting them 90 days after their purchase, you’ve encouraged them to keep track of their service records, and have set them upon that path by doing the hard work for them.
Once you get the first oil change from your new customer, keep those CRM notices going out as often as the manufacturer’s recommendation suggests. Never do it sooner, or you become a nuisance. Instead, do it right on time. Make sure your CRM has the ability to perform hundreds of processes—some have very few automated processes. If your CRM limits the number of automations, it isn’t being very useful, and it is time to upgrade.
Next, use a data mining tool to watch for those services that slip through the cracks. Tire alignment and rotation schedules should be estimated. General checkup notices should be automated. And, if you are using a sophisticated data mining tool, such as DealerSocket’s RevenueRadar, your service personnel should be notified when a customer hasn’t been into the service bay in x number of months.
These data mining tools can also identify customers who bought a car, but have not brought it into the service drive. This is where you hold your own people accountable for driving customers into the service bay. If a new car customer hasn’t been into your service bay, have the service manager make a call to them.
Studies reveal that 78% of customers invited to come in for a service appointment do so. A personal call is better than an email or a text. A text is better than an email, however. Emails, although automated, aren’t as effective. Let your data mining tool notify your service manager when these calls need to be made.
Finally, if you don’t have a tool that searches your database for service opportunities, get one. Some equity mining tools promise a service component, but make sure it isn’t just a tool to pull good service customers out of the service drive and into the sales side of the dealership.
A good service customer is 25 times more likely to buy from your dealership when it is time to buy a new car anyway—just be patient to get that sale. For now, let your customers know that their car is in good hands, and that your service department genuinely cares about keeping their new car feeling very new.
David Eyerly is a seasoned automotive consultant operating out of the Dallas area. He appreciates feedback to his articles, and can be of great benefit to new and growing automobile dealers. He is presently seeking clients only in the north central U.S. (Minnesota and Iowa). He’s a phone call away when you just have a quick question, however; reach him at (903) 952-8865, by email at [email protected], or through this magazine.0
Latest posts by David Eyerly
- Dealership Inventory Management: Automation vs. Accountability - December 22, 2015
- Drive Customers to the Service Bay With Your Business Development Center - October 23, 2015
- Automating Service Opportunities With Your CRM - August 11, 2015