August 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
In the retail automotive world, we have seen over the past decade the advent of new technology resources like never seen before. These new products and services are all designed to essentially enable dealers to achieve the same common goal—become more successful. In doing so, dealers now have more tools at their disposal to enable their employees to provide every single customer with a higher level of service whether it be in sales, F&I, service, parts or the collision center.
In return, this will produce more sales, increase profits and make customers want to return to their dealer for all of their automotive needs. From a purely fixed operations perspective, here are some of the tools available to all of us in today’s market:
I would hope that all of you reading this article have a dealership website. I want you to go to your website, click on your tab for the service department and view the screen in front of you from the customer’s perspective. There should be an immediate call to action, such as “Click here for a free membership in our Priority Club,” “Senior Citizen Discounts,” “Military Discounts,” “Free Oil Change (buy 3 and get the fourth free)”, etc. When they click on whatever you are offering, immediately request their email address, and you will capture more customers for future email marketing and follow-up.
Next, schedule an appointment on your website to test how user-friendly the process is. Can you actually schedule an appointment online, or do you simply enter a request and wait for a call back? When you schedule the appointment, is a maintenance menu presented that allows you to choose additional products or services? These are usually offered based on the mileage of a vehicle. Research shows that customers who go online to schedule an appointment and are offered a menu will upsell themselves at a higher dollar value than most service advisors greeting them in the service drive.
Can you find a more cost-effective way to communicate and market your products and services to your customers? I don’t think one exists! Furthermore, research shows that more customers prefer email and/or text messaging over phone calls and direct mail. Most of your customers have a computer and an email address, and who doesn’t have a cell phone these days? This tool enables you to reach out to your customers daily to send special order parts notifications, recall campaigns, appointment reminders, appointment rescheduling notifications to no-shows, CSI inquiries, referral requests, seasonal service specials, targeted marketing by VIN, targeted marketing to lost customers, service offers on all vehicle makes and models, etc. I’m sure you can think of a few more reasons why this tool is so valuable. Are your service advisors, cashiers, parts counter people, and everyone else on your service and parts team trained to capture every customers email address?
Online Video Training
Would you agree that a properly trained service advisor will out-sell an untrained advisor all day long? Would you also agree that a properly trained advisor with proper communication skills will keep your customers coming back?
With the high cost of traveling to outside locations for training as well as the lost employee productivity while they’re out for training, you will find that online interactive video training with employee certification is by far the most cost-effective way to ensure your entire service team is properly trained to maximize owner retention and dealerships profits.
Most dealers have some form of a menu to present in the F&I office, and many have electronic menus versus paper ones. The key, of course, is to make a menu presentation to each and every customer in order to afford them the opportunity to say “yes” to the purchase of another product or service. What a great idea! So let’s do the exact same thing in the service drive and on your website, as I mentioned above. Electronic menus are cheap, easy to install, easy to use, customer friendly and most definitely process-driven, which of course increases sales and profits just like they do in the finance office. Additionally, they provide video feature and benefit presentations on why the customer might need the particular product or service.
Electronic Vehicle Inspections
The benefits of electronic vehicle inspections are numerous. Vehicle information can be quickly and efficiently sent to service advisors, parts personnel and customers. Advisors can send the inspections to customers with pricing of services needed easily. If the customer approves the services, everyone in the dealership service department knows exactly what work needs to be completed and the appropriate parts. If a customer declines the services originally, follow-up emails can be sent reminding the customer of the need for the repairs.
These five technologically advanced products will increase your fixed operations sales and profits—if you use them properly. That being said, why would any dealership not use these products that will give you a minimum return on investment of 100 percent or more? There are actually two reasons: 1) Your employees don’t want to change and 2) Your management team won’t hold employees accountable.
Vol. 8, Issue 6