October 2010, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Sixty-four percent of vehicle owners have put off vehicle maintenance and repair. It is difficult to quantify how much money that would amount to in your service and parts departments, but it’s enough to matter. The top reasons they put off maintenance are as follows:
• 65 percent are afraid that the cost would be more than expected.
• 34 percent do not have the time.
• 28 percent do not believe the needed repair or maintenance is serious.
How many of those reasons are within the control or at least influence of your service consultants? All of them, of course. Here are a few ideas that will help overcome these objections.
Costs More Than Expected
Offer an “Ironclad Price Guarantee.” There are monetary pitfalls to this, of course. It will be necessary to prepare your team for this change in culture. Most service departments believe that accurate estimates for some repairs are impossible; perhaps that is true. However; for the majority of the work a typical shop performs today, an accurate estimate is quite reasonable. Once you create your process and guarantee, promote it as a reason to do business with your shop – “We have an Ironclad Price Guarantee” – it will differentiate you from the other shops and overcome the top objection. The true test of your culture will come when someone misses an estimate by $200. What do you do—try to bump the customer or stick to your guarantee?
Don’t Have Time
Offer shuttle rides to and from anywhere as long as it is close enough to make sense. There are still many stores that will drop people off but not bring them back to the store when the work is done. Have you forgotten that the customer pays your bill when you bring them back? Do not make it difficult to do business with you; bend over backwards to make your business accessible and people will spend money with you.
Offer very cheap rental cars that are immediately available. Many stores use an outside rental agency, and the wait for the vehicle to arrive turns this benefit into a handicap. Do not make your customers wait. Remember, making your dealership easy to do business with wins every time.
Offer pickup and delivery of the customer’s vehicle. I understand the logistical challenges; at one time I had a small herd of retired folks shuttling cars. If you really want to make this work, you can. Hire an on-demand staff of retired folks, have a log (written or electronic) to track the dropoffs and pickups and assign one person to manage the process. I had one of the drivers who was very organized manage it. Customers will actually pay you for this convenience, by the way. Set the price based on the cost of your drivers plus gas, but keep the price as inexpensive as possible. Take a map and draw circles around the store’s location and continue out to a point that becomes impractical. Each ring has a set price. Think of this as a marketing strategy and not a profit center, much like oil changes.
Not a Serious Problem
Train your service consultants how to respond to the perceived need of the repair/maintenance. Most of your customers do not understand how their vehicles operate or what work is important. Your customer’s opinion is heavily influenced by hearsay from conversations with equally uniformed people. Train your service consultants to speak about the repairs/maintenance needed in the future in great detail. This conversation is more than the statement: “Next time we need to do the 45,000-mile maintenance.” They need to create value and explain why it matters and why do it at your store.
Your service consultants should have three solid reasons to complete the most common repairs/maintenances. This sounds simple but it is not. Test your team, ask them for three solid reasons to rotate tires, change the air filter or replace the fuel filter.
There are six reasons that motivate consumers to complete work on their vehicles:
Most consumers have one of these as their primary motivator. If you discuss reliability as the reason for the repair, but the consumer is motivated by money, your chances of selling that repair are greatly diminished. There are many more ideas that impact the customer, but this should get you thinking. It is very easy to ignore some or all of these. After all, you have probably tried some in the past and they did not work so you stopped, or you know someone who failed, etc. Do not ignore these points; they matter. Remember, dealerships perform less than 25 percent of all repairs completed on vehicles. How good can we be? Do something today.