Your Best Friend - Your Service Department

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Dan Henderson - Also by this author

I can normally tell a special finance customer by what they drive to the dealership. You know what I’m talking about. That 1985 VW Rabbit with three different custom colors and the fuzzy dice hanging from the window. They are not driving that because they want to right?

Have you ever stopped to consider how many car deals are waiting for your special finance department on the service drive of your dealership? The guy who is about to be asked to pay $5,000 for his blown engine on his 92 Dodge Intrepid with 200k miles, the guy whose warranty is about to run out and his Pinto has been in for that noise in the engine (they all had noise in the engine but no one could quite figure out what exactly it was). They are all car deals begging to be sold.

So how do you cultivate this business? You need to make a few new best friends in the service department. The service advisor, do you even know his name? It’s just like establishing relationships with your banks. How many kids do they have, what kind of hobbies do they have? Have you done anything for them lately? Build those relationships. Make sure when they have a customer who says they are looking for a new car that the service advisor thinks of you first. Give him/her some of your business cards; take them out to lunch. Build that relationship!

Get your fixed operations department on your side during the sales process as well. I always had a canned line I would use when I walked my customers through the service department. Worked every time. It went something like this; “This is our service advisor Bob Jones. Make sure you come and see him if you have any questions or service concerns.” Actually at this point, turn your customer over to them. It is the perfect time to help drive business to the service department by encouraging the customer to set up their first service appointment.

The service department has services to sell the same as you do. After they are done selling and making sure the customer remembers to see them when they come in, take control and start to walk your customer out of service. But, just before you leave turn around and say, “Oh Bob, I almost forgot. Did you get my customer’s brakes taken care of?” Train him to reply every time, “Absolutely. Had it finished early this morning, and Mrs. Smith will be in to pick it up and drop off our rental later this afternoon.” Your response: “Great Bob. Thanks again, you always take care of me.”

This conversation will put your customers at ease every time. It adds validity and security to their transaction. Always when you introduce your customers to anyone in the dealership, introduce them as someone who is buying a car, not someone who is “possibly” or “might be” buying a car.

I always found it wildly amusing, as I do most things, the way service and sales have a combative relationship. They should be natural allies. Don’t let this sales opportunity slip by you, especially in special finance. The customers are there, and the support from your co-workers is there. Utilize it and sell more cars.

Vol 2, Issue 7

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