You know what they look like and where they are.
They’re the service interval reminders, and they come in the form of a tiny piece of plastic that clings to the upper driver’s-side corner of every windshield. Your service advisors take the time to update them with every service. Day in and day out they cling, patiently reminding your customers to come back to your dealership for their next service.
Yet how often do your customers blithely ignore them, driving for miles beyond the sticker’s recommendation? Do they even know what the manufacturer’s recommendations are for servicing their car?
They might, and they’re in good company. According to a recent DMEautomotive study, 77% of customers surveyed knew their manufacturer’s service recommendations. But of those, 18% choose not to follow the intervals. Is this even fair to the clinging windshield sticker?
It’s not. And worse, that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
According to the study, the percentage of drivers who adhere to manufacturers’ recommendations has decreased by 10% between 2011 and 2014. That 10% drop costs you thousands of dollars in potential service revenue over the course of a vehicle’s lifetime.
But how do you predict which customers will adhere to manufacturers’ recommendations and which won’t? This recent study might have the answers you’re seeking.
Of those customers who know their manufacturer’s recommended interval, that interval alone may be a good indicator of whether your customers will get their vehicles serviced in a timely manner.
Lengthier service-interval recommendations appear to be related to better customer adherence, because 59% of customers who drive a vehicle with a 5,000-mile interval said they don’t heed manufacturer’s recommendations. Conversely, 94% of customers who drive a vehicle with a 3,000-mile interval don’t follow manufacturer recommendations.
And why don’t these customers adhere to the service recommendations? Among them, 32% say the recommendations don’t seem necessary, while 27% simply prefer a different interval. Another 14% of customers could not commit the time or money to keep up with the intervals, 12% said their mechanic shop recommended a different interval, and 6% reported they drive in rough conditions, so their service needs are atypical.
Regardless of your customers’ individual situations, missed—or never-made—service appointments mean missed service revenue. The service interval (average span of time between service appointments) has increased from 140 days to 145 days. That costs dealers an average of $91,000 a year in lost revenue.
But how do you tackle this costly problem? The following are a few potential options.
- First, increase your customers’ awareness of their vehicles’ service intervals. Utilize life-cycle retention communications to send your customers the messages you want them to receive, right when they need service most. Reinforce the frequency of when customers are expected to return for routine service in follow-up and reminder communications.
- Once you have customers in your store, make it work for them. Find new, innovative methods to bring them in and make their lives easier.
- Create offers that bundle services, typically accessory products, with routine maintenance. Imagine your customers flocking in for your hot-weather July special that bundles air conditioning maintenance and refrigerant injection with an oil change or tire rotation.
- Have customers with very little time or money to waste? Try express-lane services and extended hours for drop-offs and pickups. Provide them alternative price points and workable service options.
- Above all else, be flexible. And have sympathy for the clinging windshield stickers; they have a tough job that just keeps getting tougher.
Happier customers mean busier service lanes. And busier service lanes mean service dollars beefing up your bottom line.
Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer of DMEautomotive, the industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing that provides a range of marketing services to the biggest and most innovative automotive organizations in the industry. For more information, email [email protected]0
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