Online. On the lot. In the showroom. In the service lane. Good service can and should be at every customer touch point. And how you drive and manage leads should be no different.
After all, your customers became customers because they wanted a vehicle, which started with an event that created the desire or need for a vehicle, like an addition to the family, an increase in income, or an aging vehicle. Often events like these become motivating to customers because of your ads, emails, social media efforts, or good, old-fashion one-on-one communications. A critical place for these one-on-ones, of course, is in the service lane.
Service lane leads
In the service lane, you have a unique opportunity for lead generation with a captive audience, located inside your dealership with time on their hands, waiting for work to be completed on their vehicles. With this audience, you know—or could know—their current vehicle type, age and condition, and amount still owed. Plus, you probably have them sitting right next to your showroom, staring at and admiring your inventory.
Would you rather have them in your waiting room watching the latest Lady Gaga video on their smartphones or thinking about how great it would be to get into a new car or truck? Naturally, the latter—and likely also for them. Who doesn’t like getting a new vehicle?
But when a lead is created in the service lane, how do you ensure you get the customer information you need to fully manage the lead and convert it into a sale? Simple: Have the right process and technology in place.
The right process
The right process starts with your service advisors having the right customer conversations to identify potential motivating events. That means being friendly, inquisitive (without being intrusive or creepy), and helpful. It also means being a good listener. For example, simply asking, “How is your car working out for you?” can be enough. More often than not, the answer may yield information helpful to determine potential services needed and/or get a better understanding of customer satisfaction with the vehicle.
The answer will sometimes, however, yield a clue for a motivating event like, “We just had a baby, so it’s feeling a little cramped,” or “It’s fine, but losing that new car smell.” Moments like these—motivating events—are opportunities to be helpful to your customers and generate leads with follow-up questions like, “While you’re waiting, would like me to get someone to show you a few new cars that would give you some extra room?”
The right technology
The right technology is having an easy-to-use tool, ideally on a tablet computer, that everyone from your service advisors to your sales consultants to your customers can use to input the needed data once interest has been identified. Think of it as your own mobile point of sale, where you can hand customers a tablet and begin to engage them in the sales process, anytime, anywhere.
Importantly, the tool needs to send that data to a central hub. Your customer relationship management and dealer management systems also have their roles, but using your credit application system as your central hub has several benefits:
- It is probably already integrated with other key systems for easy flow of data;
- It is one of the best places to manage your compliance; and
- It can help ensure the attention and follow-up you need to maintain high levels of service on lead management.
After all, running credit is one of the few things most of your leads and deals have in common—that and the need for appropriate ID verification, notifications, disclosures, and the list goes on. Whether the lead comes in from your service lane or somewhere else, consistent compliance is still needed.
The bottom line is consistency: Consistency in customer service, wherever the touch points may be. Consistency in using every opportunity, including the service lane, to generate leads—it can start with a simple question that doesn’t cost anything to ask. And, finally, consistency in your process and technology, ensuring you have an easy way to capture customer information into a central hub.
Todd Mason is chief product and marketing officer (CPMO) for RouteOne (www.routeone.com), a joint venture created by Ally Financial, Ford Motor Credit, TD Auto Finance, and Toyota Financial Services. He is responsible for managing product conception, development, and strategy, as well as implementation of all marketing-related strategy and tactics for RouteOne.
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