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How your fixed-ops department can turn service patrons into life-long customers

On today’s show, Lee Harkins joins host Jim Fitzpatrick to discuss the latest trends in fixed-ops. Harkins is the President and CEO of M5 Management Services, a company committed to helping dealerships, OEMs, and corporate clients improve their fixed operations business.

Harkins begins the conversation by sharing his number one lesson learned from 2020 – the value of the customer. Harkins says that clients’ transaction values are dropping, meaning that dealers must focus on building larger customer quantities. As COVID-19 spread throughout the U.S., customers were more interested in touchless business. This paved the way for pick-up and delivery service to grow in dealerships across the country. Harkins says that service departments that started offering contactless maintenance orders will likely continue offering the service beyond the pandemic as many customers will prefer to conduct business in that manner. 

Harkins then goes into one of the main goals of any service department, which is turning a service customer into a new-car buyer. Harkins says this is the greatest compliment a service department can receive. Service customers who come back to buy a new car showcase that they are satisfied with their experience with the dealership. These customers have the potential to turn into lifelong customers.

Harkins concludes the conversation by discussing what he’s telling service directors right now. He says the main focus for service departments should be customer retention. For a long time, the fixed-ops division of a dealership has been least concerned about retaining customers. Harkins says that dealers must establish roles for everyone in the service department to help them understand what role they play in bringing customers back. Service directors, fixed-ops managers, and technicians should be primarily focused on earning the business of the customer.


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