Recall work: your service departments chance to impress

Recall work is a great opportunity for your dealership to impress customers with the smooth operations of a well-oiled service department.

Automotive recalls in the U.S. rose 3.4% in the first quarter of 2023, up from 237 in Q4 2022 to 245 events in Q1. According to Sedgwick brand protection’s latest recall index report, the number of units impacted also increased slightly to 7.6 million. While car owners don’t tend to be a big fan of recall notices, they actually provide service managers and techs the opportunity to show what the department can do, especially for customers who don’t come in often. We’ll discuss how to approach service recalls and how to make them productive for the customer and our team.

Use Recalls to show what your service department can do

While not every customer who comes in for a recall is coming in just for that, a service recall is quite the opportunity for service departments to shine. Sometimes customers don’t come in for service because they haven’t driven much or they would rather wait until something slightly more serious happens to pull into your drive-thru.

Customers also might be shopping for a new service department or otherwise not be overly impressed by something from a previous visit.

All of these factors make a service recall campaign a great chance to show your customers how good your service can be. From the initial greeting in the service department, the actual repair, your waiting room, shuttles, or rentals, ensure that every gear is working just right.

Care about the car

One of the best parts about doing recall work is that you are guaranteed some paid work. Showing further care for the vehicle involves empathetically presenting anything else you found while inspecting the vehicle and presenting it to the customer without being pushy about making immediate repairs if they aren’t necessary.

Understand people’s feelings about recalls

Many of today’s drivers ignore recalls. I’m still waiting to get my Takata airbags done. Aside from the recalls the service department notifies customers about, it’s difficult to get customers to take the postcard or letter they receive in the mail very seriously. This is in part because some recalls feel unnecessary, but they also take time out of someone’s day.

The people who do show up specifically for recall work are likely genuinely concerned about the state of their vehicle, or might not understand what issue the vehicle might actually have. Taking the time to explain exactly what it is your technicians will be doing and how, if at all, it impacts the vehicle, could lead to a more solid relationship in the future.

Since the driver or passenger can’t often “feel” the issue, it is more important to tell them why the vehicle is recalled. I owned a vehicle that had a power steering hose recall and I had no idea until it was brought into the vehicle simply because there wasn’t anything wrong with the power steering at the moment.


Recall campaigns are actually an effective way to bring people in for work their vehicle does need – and are great opportunities to impress them with the smooth operations of a well-oiled service department as well as friendly faces. Prepare for a recall appointment like you would any other paying customer and you will establish a memorable, trusted bond.

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Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart
Ben is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News with 10 years of dealership experience in automotive marketing. Ben loves all things cars and putting together strategies that help dealerships succeed.

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