If you’ve been in the auto business for any amount of time, you know the service department is an essential part of the dealership’s revenue picture. But many dealers miss the big picture when it comes to this revenue stream.
The old way of looking at the service department goes like this:
You sell someone a vehicle, and that buyer gets service done on the vehicle at your shop. Some customers wander off to third-party mechanics, and a few might go to a different dealership simply for geographical convenience.
The end result is that you service some percentage of the cars you’ve sold. Over the years, this can result in a solid number of customer vehicles flowing through your service department.
A better way to look at your service department is like this:
You sell a certain number of vehicles, other dealerships that sell your brand sell a certain number of vehicles, and many customers in your area have used vehicles like the ones you sell. You want all of them to come to your service department. You want your customers, the other guys’ customers, the third-party mechanic’s customers, and every used car that matches your make.
In effect, you want double or triple the number of customers you have now. How do you get double or triple?
Service marketing. You go after those customers, and treat your service department just like you treat your car sales department.
Make the commitment. Create a service marketing budget, and spend it. If you don’t currently do service marketing and your service department is already busy, you need to increase the size of the department to accommodate an increase, then go after more service work.
Set your service department apart from the other dealerships: better, faster, more mechanics, more convenient service hours, nicer waiting room. Don’t settle for just your old sales customers. Get the other guys’ customers too.
Toot your own horn about the education of your mechanics. Use the “protect your investment” message, and don’t lose customers to half-qualified mechanics at the garage down the street.
Use overall marketing (not just your own list) to market to everyone that drives your brand of vehicle. Don’t settle for your share of the market—get the other guy’s share too.
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