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Improving Your Sales-to-Service Handoff

Sales and service have their own distinct roles in any dealership. In an ideal world, sales exists to attract and new customers and to sell cars. Service exists to keep those customers coming back and turn them into loyal, lifelong customers.

With this in mind, it is important to take a look at how well do sales and service departments work together. Do they work well together? At the end of the day, the success of one department is inextricably tied to the success of the other.

Of all the ways the sales and service are linked, the initial handoff from sales to service is at the base of this working relationship. It all starts here. If this is the customer’s first experience at your dealership, the handoff is critical to the long-term value of that customer.sales and service

Coordinate Goals and Objectives

Sales and service (necessarily) have different day-to-day objectives. Sales is trying to sell cars. Service is trying to fix them. Sometimes the sales department is viewed as just another customer (albeit a captive customer) who provides a steady stream of reconditioning work. This view is limited and need to be reexamined. Sales and service are two sides of the same coin.

While the daily objectives may be different for each department, the long-term goals should be focused on the same objective – to grow the loyal customer base of the dealership. This means that issues such as reconditioning work, or accessories should be looked at as means to an end, not profit centers in-and-of themselves.

When service and sales are focused on the same goals, us-versus-them goes away and the sales-to-service handoff becomes a meaningful transition for the customer and for the dealership.

Educate Staff on the Importance of this Relationship

It is important that employees understand how the relationship between sales and service is supposed to work. Salespeople and service advisors need to be on good terms and be able to work together. Customers need to see a unified front. During handoff, customers should feel that they are dealing with two players on the same team, not opposing players forced to play each other.

Involve Service in the Sales Process

To further solidify a unified front, consider integrating service into the sales process. In-house accessories installation is one way to accomplish this. Customers can get a taste of your service department when your sales department sells an accessory and your service department installs it.

Also, consider the message being sent every time you send an accessory installation away from your dealership. The message is that you also want the customer to take their service business elsewhere.

The more familiarity the customer has with the service department before and during the sale, the more likely they are to bring their vehicle in for service after the sale. With the rise of competition from independent service shops, dealers are finding it harder to attract and retain service customers. Integrating sales and service leverages a dealer’s unique assets and tilts the advantage in the dealer’s favor.

Ken Strong
Ken Strong
Retail automotive veteran and writer for

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