As the recession loosens its tight grip on our economy and businesses, vehicle sales have begun to steadily climb nationwide. As a result, a very important decision is looming for auto dealers. Many of the customers that are purchasing today are doing so for the first time in several years. As they return to the dealership, what customers find and experience today will redefine their expectations and impressions for the foreseeable future. We are getting a second chance to make a first impression. The auto industry, from the manufacturer down now has an unprecedented opportunity to alter the once speculative impression that most consumers have had regarding the dealership service business. So far, in my opinion, only General Motors and Ford have seized this opportunity and began to campaign to change the image of the dealership service department. Their television ads are compelling and insinuate that things are different and for the better. They push to inform customers about the advantages of factory trained experts and products. All good and long overdue.But when a consumer returns to the department, is what they experience going to be different or just more of the same? Is anything really going to be different?The following recommendations are mandatory for every dealer and manufacturer that strive to prove that things really are different and the dealership service experience is worth the customer’s time and effort.
If you can expand your preconceived notions of why you exist to be just a bit broader you can put a big hurt on the independent and chain quick lube stores that still view themselves as existing only to serve a narrow market. All they exist to offer is quick lube and very little else, just like KFC offers chicken and very little else.You can offer Quick Lube plus repair, maintenance and warranty – and you should. Be a true one stop shopping experience. What has kept the quick service business from catching on at most dealerships is that the idea is being over thought. It’s really not that hard. Hang a sign that says “Quick Oil Change" or “Quick Service”, make some very minor internal adjustments, promote from within and promote outwardly to the community. Make sure that your staff understands that “Quick” is on the outside of the building to bring the customer in, their job on the inside of the business is to inspect the vehicle and make the customer aware of all needs. This insures profitability through Quick Service.Although building separate buildings, service lanes and the like are not bad ideas if you have the room and means to do so, it is not an actual requirement for your dealership to accommodate the extra business.
To make this venture successful you have to be willing to do four things; pay the advisor the same as you would pay an F & I salesperson, allow the profits to stay in the fixed ops department in which it was sold, be willing to invest in the very inexpensive software to make the transaction lighting fast (less than 3 minutes), and be willing to train your staff how to expertly execute. What’s at stake? Consider this, if your F & I department has the national average of a 46% penetration at the time of the vehicle sale in extended service agreements, that means that potentially over half of your customers that purchase a vehicle at your dealership and return for service do not have an extended warranty. Imagine what the profits could be if you got just 5% of them each day to invest in one? Huge profits are at stake. So don’t allow shortsightedness and some whining from the F&I department to be your excuse for not buying into this sure fire profit maker.
In closing this article out, I believe that you should act to the affirmative in all of the areas to some degree or another. The sooner you do, the sooner you will reap the rewards. The “new” economy that emerged over the past several years has created a very unique opportunity we all must seize, we are getting a second chance to make a first impression.Right, wrong or indifferent, that is the way I see selling from perspective.
About the author: Jeff Cowan, in his 30th year of Service Department Sales Training, is recognized as the creator of the modern-day, walk-around and selling processes for dealership service departments and after-market auto service repair shops.You can see him on a weekly broadcast of CBT News and read many of his published articles on various automotive publications. Currently partnered with NADA, EasyCare, NCM, Marellen, and other vendors and manufacturers, Jeff is the nation’s authority when it comes to training service advisors and service support staff.Visit his website at AutomotiveServiceTraining.com get info on On-Site Training, Public and Private Workshops, DVD Training Program, Webinars, and a FREE trial of Virtual Training! For more great tips and advice, follow Jeff on Twitter at@JCowansProTalk. He’s also on Facebook, and Google+. You can also watch Jeff Cowan’s videos on YouTube! For more information call (800) 248-2931 or from outside the U.S., call (949) 713-4469.