Twenty years ago, Terry Longmore’s boss was known to punish a salesperson by sending him or her to the service department to fish for sales. Today, he’s the general manager at Beasley Ford Lincoln in York, Pa., and he has just hired two new employees to field the service lane in hopes of a profit boost.
Longmore’s “quality assurance representatives” aren’t being punished, however. Their job is to converse with customers waiting in the service lounge by asking strictly educational-based questions such as, “Do you want to know how much your vehicle is worth?” or “Did you know your extended warranty is close to expiration?”
The staff then uses TEGA Technologies’ Service Turn, a web-based application that mines and organizes customer data, to answer such inquiries for customers on the spot. And with interest rates as low as they are and fuel economy as efficient as it is, Longmore calls it the “perfect storm.”
With a mobile device in tow, these new employees can be heard asking customers, “‘Hey, by the way, I don’t know if you knew this, but we can give you a better rate, we can give you a safer vehicle, a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Does that interest you?’”
“Who’s going to answer ‘No’ to that?” Longmore asks. “That’s kind of a no-brainer.”
A Little Extra
At February’s National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA)’s Convention & Expo, J.D. Power and Associates’ senior vice president, John Humphrey, predicted that 2013 will be the year dealers maximize profits in the service drive.
That announcement is old news to Longmore. Beasley Ford Lincoln’s closing ratio on the service side sits at a modest 3 to 5 percent, but he thinks an extra five to nine sales — at a store that averages about 180 combined new- and used-unit sales per month — are significant, considering the alternative is to not make an effort at all.
Longmore says Beasley Ford Lincoln, which he joined four months ago, isn’t the first place he’s used Service Turn. He also employed the tool while working at one of three Kelly Nissan locations owned by the nine-store, Massachusetts-based Kelly Automotive Group. Longmore says his conversion rate increased so much in his first month with Service Turn that Kelly’s other eight dealerships were inspired to sign on. He adds the system is contagious because it simplifies how salespeople approach data mining.
“[Previously], the computer systems weren’t sophisticated enough to pull up the information that was there already,” Longmore explains. “You had the interest rate, this salesperson, this term, your approximate payoff and approximate value of the car. Now you can pull all that information up together, right there, for the customer.”