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4 ways to set the first service appointment that customers keep

It’s your last chance to be in person with your customer before they leave.

While the new car buyer is sure to visit your dealership for a warranty repair, fewer are coming back for maintenance. Most customers prefer to go to a third-party mechanic, with the Cox Automotive Study suggesting the number is nearing 75%. While the data might be older, it’s been clear that nothing has changed recently. Considering how valuable dealership maintenance can be, what are some ways to set that first service appointment to ensure their return?

After all, if you can get them into the service department, you might gain a lifelong customer. It gives you the opportunity to create a strong relationship that can last the lifetime of the vehicle. Based on what we’ve seen succeed, here are four ways to ensure that the first appointment is kept.

Give Them a Tour While Buying

Customers are looking for a coordinated relationship between the service and sales departments. It’s important that they see how all of the departments work together as a whole. With a short tour of the service center, your customers can see how the technicians work, giving them the confidence to choose you in the future.

While the customer is waiting for finance, you can give them a behind-the-scenes tour showcasing the value that the certified technicians bring to the table. They will also get a glimpse of how clean your shop is. Have the service manager greet them to further secure the deal.

Set the Appointment During the Sale

It might not seem logical to set the first maintenance appointment during the sale, especially when it is months away. While it can be difficult to get things lined up with a customer’s schedule, having the appointment helps them to remain committed. It’s your last chance to be in person with your customer before they leave.

Of course, you don’t want to be pushy. Tell the client that you are simply putting in a placeholder, so the books don’t get overwhelmed.

Related: Service: It’s time to make status updates your friend, not your foe

Focus on Multi-Channel Marketing

serviceOnce the first appointment is made, you need to stay in front of the customer. Follow-up is critical to ensuring the first visit is used. Your omnichannel marketing campaign keeps your dealership at the forefront of the customer’s mind.

It’s recommended to send out a postcard that includes coupons for valuable services. You can also follow up with a personalized email thanking them for their visit. Just don’t overdo the communication because you don’t want to be a pest.

Provide Valuable Incentives

If you are going to send offers, they must be valuable and enticing. After all, no one wants a cheesy offer that doesn’t save them money. While adding deep discounts can cut into the bottom line, it’s the ideal way to create repeat service.

Consider offering a VIP card that gives them a discount on regular visits. You can also offer free pickup and delivery or a car wash with each oil change. Get creative with your offers and when in doubt, survey the customers to see what they want.

Final Thoughts

The small amount of effort that you put forward to secure new service clients is going to pay off in the long run. Follow these steps to ensure a solid bond is created between you and the new car buyer.

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Brian Jones
Brian Jones
Brian Jones is a contributing writer for CBT News. He has worked in the automotive industry for decades as an ASE Certified Master Tech. He lives outside of Dallas, Texas with his family where he enjoys motorsports, pickup trucks, and traveling.

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