It’s easy to think that a manufacturer’s free maintenance plan is enough to bring someone in for the first service if you just had one to offer. If you don’t have that option, how could you get your buyer in for their first service? Let’s look at some ways to get them back and keep them coming back to an essential part of your dealership.


Do you have a process in place? What is your plan when a person buys a car? Do they get a service department welcome kit? Having a process that’s written down, implemented and consistently reviewed for effectiveness, is your first step. Without a plan, you’re going to have to chase the customer later and that gets expensive. It can cost five times as much money to acquire a new customer than retain a current one. Customer retention at the time of sale will save you a tremendous amount of money later.

The F&I Office

What happens in the F&I office shouldn’t stay in the F&I office. This time isn’t just about signing final documents and getting the new owner out the door. The best time to sell a plan is in the F&I process and this is an excellent time to discuss reasons for a service plan. And make it a discussion, not a handout. Maintenance plans are essential to keep the car running smoothly and presenting the option at the time of purchase can relieve owner anxiety later.


Hopefully, the process has been quick through sales and F&I, leaving time to introduce a service representative who is the designated contact for the buyer’s service needs. Do you currently walk the customer back to service? If so, in just a few minutes, you’ll have the first service appointment scheduled. Studies show that 38% of your recent car sales might return for their service visit if you fail to set the first appointment, but 57% will return if it’s scheduled. You may not have that process in place, so now is an excellent time to start. Once the buyer is out the door, it’s less likely they will return.

Getting the Details

Does everything end at introductions? No. How many times have you forgotten a person’s name once they walked out the door? Unless the buyer’s information is logged into your CRM system, they won’t get a service department welcome kit, personalized text, emails, Facebook messages or service reminders. Getting the details into the service department will set the foundation for a long-lasting relationship.

Keep in Touch

The saying, out of sight out of mind, is true. Not keeping in touch with the latest customer will bring failure. The way to keep buyers coming back and selling others on your dealership is through personal service. Even if your OEM has a two-year complimentary maintenance program, the owner can go to another dealership if you don’t give them a reason to come to you. And once you lose them, you lose everyone they could have referred you to.

Why Does it Matter?

The hard truth is that the customer’s regular maintenance is just a means to keep them until their next car purchase. If you have a plan and build a relationship, then your customer will not only come back for their next purchase, but they’ll bring others with them. There are many places to purchase the car you sell and other great shops to service it. If the buyer becomes familiar with you through your consistent and sincere care for them, they’ll come back to buy from you before heading anywhere else. And then the success starts all over again.

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