As a service advisor our job is to fulfill our customer’s main reason for visiting the dealership, right? You may feel customers who come into your shop are just trying to get the one thing they came in for and avoid being preyed upon by aggressive staff looking to make a sale for some seemingly unnecessary, intangible service. Sound familiar? Some advisors even abide by this perceived customer desired outcome with all of their clientele in the belief they are looking after the customer’s best interests.
However, aside from addressing the prime concern, to truly provide an exceptional service experience, every customer deserves just a little bit extra. If we are really looking out for their best welfare, we should get their buy in and complete a routine inspection of the rest of their car.
From here, each customer should be given a prioritized presentation and given their options in order of the importance of the service recommended every single time we touch their car. This is not really selling per se but delivering relevant vehicle condition status information consistently in a manner that stresses the urgency of what is needed and why. Since most people, including ourselves, do not purchase the first time they are informed of a need, we must be proactive in relaying this information. Also we must persist in asking for postponed services every subsequent time we see them back in our service drive.
In it for the Long Haul
People are keeping their cars longer and longer. The average age of a vehicle on a U.S. road is mounting at the same time customers buy more and more new ones. This enigma has been made possible by significant improvements in dependability. A typical car, truck, SUV or van on the roadway today is a record high 11.5 years old! Many times when you encounter a car in your shop with over a 120K miles it’s paid for and the customer does not have a monthly installment. These people are trying to get the most worth from their hard-earned investment.
Miles of Smiles!
Let’s face it, well maintained vehicles just last even longer. Although much has improved with the advent of superior materials, craftsmanship and advanced fluid technologies, additional maintenance still makes a lot of sense. A lot of the components that are serviceable on an automobile are fluid driven. Although “Factory” maintenance guides may tell state a particular fluid has an extremely long, even life-of-the-car service life, there are many benefits to extra upkeep. Additional maintenance is very literally an insurance payment against future beak down. Your fluid chemical vendor probably also offers “Lifetime” component warranty, if the customer maintains their car appropriately, which in itself is an enormous consumer value.
Maintenance Versus Repair
We’ve all heard the old cliché, but this one is a fact, Jack! Maintenance is cheaper than repair! Versus repair costs and all the associated hassles, maintaining a vehicle is truly a bargain. Think of the last time you were stranded and your car broke down on the side of the road. You may have faced towing charges, loss of work and it may have even put your or your family’s safety at risk. The headaches and extra charges form a breakdown can double, quadruple or more a routine maintenance regimen. To echo another familiar refrain, when it comes to auto maintenance, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Deliver a Happy Car and YOU are the Star!
A happy car equals happy customer. Customer retention and customer satisfaction are the keys to growing your business. As a service advisor, excellent customer preservation and client contentment are most certainly the keys to being wildly successful at your position. On the other hand, customer defection and poor CSI scores can cost you and your company a lot of money and even your job and poor reputation that lingers for years.
Have you ever been faced with a customer with a looming repair that is going to cost them some serious cash? Have you ever been asked, “Why didn’t you tell me I needed a Kanooder Valve (or fill in the blank) Service?” Well I have, and guess what? I did not have a good answer. And heaven only knows the customers who do NOT come back to us because something breaks we should have told them about in advance. Trust me when I tell you it’s really our obligation to enlighten customers of ALL of their needs EVERY time they visit us. If we do, our customers will ultimately spend more and complain less.
Cut through the What-ifs and just ASK!
Too many times I see advisors play to the exception and make it the rule. A small percentage of very verbal customers who exclaim “Don’t try to sell me anything” or “I’m just here for the free stuff” scare them off of sticking to their process. Just ASK! It does not matter if they “Don’t want anything else,” it’s your job to ask anyway. Just let them know what your job is: “Sir, I’m your advisor, my job is to give you the facts and help you prioritize your needs”. Or you can even say: “There is no pressure, ma’am however, I am obligated to let you know about your needs, but the choice is entirely yours”
The key is timing and consistency. Ask at write up for mileage based or postponed services, set them up for the results of the multipoint inspection and then ask again in 15 to 20 minutes after a complete health-check has been performed. For vehicles in your shop for a repair, get the results from the inspection and add the prime diagnosis item to give a comprehensive analysis of their needs.
There is a tremendous importance of helping your customers keep their vehicles in peak form and function. It’s really a Win, Win, Win scenario. Your customer wins from added longevity, performance and reliability of their vehicle. You triumph from extra money in your paycheck and accolades from the factory, management and your peers. The dealership is ultimately victorious in keeping and building its reputation and becoming more profitable at the same time.