Commercial service business can be very lucrative for your dealership. Commercial customers tend to be very loyal. They also require service more frequently and spend more money on each visit.
A commercial vehicle is not just a means of transportation, but a revenue generating tool. If a commercial vehicle goes down, it could literally cost $1000’s of dollars in lost revenue. With that in mind, commercial customers will do what it takes to get back on the road fast.
While it is possible you already have some commercial business in your service department, it is worth examining ways to create a better overall experience in order to attract more commercial business. If you can wow your current commercial customers, it will become easier to attract more. Word of mouth is extremely effective in the commercial world.
Here are some things to consider that will make your service department more appealing to commercial customers.
Do you have a properly equipped facility?
Commercial vehicles can take many shapes and forms. It is easy to service a taxi cab or a light duty pickup, but the real money in commercial service is in heavy-duty trucks and vans. When dealing with heavy-duty vehicles, it is important to realize that even a Class 3 service truck that is loaded with tools and equipment can weigh more than 15,000 lbs. Class 4-7 vehicles will weigh even more.
You can offer the best service, the cleanest facility, and the most competitive pricing, but if you can’t put a 15,000 lbs. truck up on a lift, it will be difficult to compete in the commercial service market. If you are serious about attracting commercial customers, you have to have the right space and equipment.
Are your technicians qualified to handle commercial vehicles?
Diesel engines, hydraulic systems, and complicated electrical accessories are quite common on commercial vehicles. If you want to compete in the commercial service market, you need to have technicians that are qualified to work on these vehicles.
Do you offer priority service with a promise of a quick turnaround?
Every customer that enters your service drive is important and deserves to be repaired quickly. However, it is important to remember that a commercial vehicle is a revenue generating machine, and is literally losing money every hour it is down.
When a personal vehicle needs service, it is obviously an inconvenience, but when a commercial vehicle needs service, time is much more of a concern. You need to have a process in place that allows for commercial vehicles to be pushed to the front of the line in order to get them back on the road fast.
Providing a quick turnaround for commercial vehicles also requires that you stock the right parts and that you have technicians scheduled to stay late, or come in early as required in order to reinforce this philosophy.
Do you offer competitive pricing and volume discounts?
As stated earlier, most commercial customers will have a fleet of vehicles that need to be maintained. While a regular customer may come in once or twice a year for service, it is not uncommon to see a commercial customer in your shop once or twice a week for the various vehicles in their fleet. With this increased business volume, it is expected that you offer a discount.
While discounts off parts and service rates are not uncommon in the industry, the important thing is that your commercial rates are competitive and that they reflect appreciation for the volume of business being done.
Do you offer monthly billing or other payment terms for qualified customers?
Commercial fleet customers will be in your service drive often. It may not be reasonable to expect payment after each service, especially if they have multiple vehicles being serviced each week. It is also likely that you will see different individuals with each vehicle that comes in. These individuals may not have the ability to pay on behalf of the company.
You will need to offer credit and billing terms to these customers. Not all commercial customers will qualify for this, but you will attract more commercial customers if you offer a variety of payment options.
Commercial service may not be a good fit for every dealership, but it is definitely worth looking at. Take a close look at these suggestions and determine if catering to commercial customers is right for you.