How to Make a Successful Handoff
A good handoff from sales to service demonstrates your understanding of a customer-centric operating philosophy. It’s uncomplicated, should not strain your resources, and is well received by most consumers. That being said, a lot of dealerships still overlook this important step.
Give Buyers a Service Lane Tour
The sales-to-service handoff doesn’t have to be a big production. Take advantage of the downtime during the vehicle purchase. During lulls in activity, you can execute a handoff by giving simple tours of the service department. But, before you start offering service department tours as part of the car buying process, be sure to identify potential points of interest.
Start by asking the simple question: what aspects of our service department are we most proud of? As a dealership, discuss and determine the highlights of your facility, then plan a route and write some simple talking points for future customer walkthroughs.
These tours will serve to connect the sales and service departments within your dealership. Customers don’t want a disconnected service and sales relationship, because they see the dealership as a single entity. The silos that can separate variable operations from fixed operations are invisible to them. They bought a car from one dealer, and the showroom and service department should all be part of one connected experience.
Set a First Service Appointment
Implement this best practice: Help the customer set the first service appointment before they roll that new vehicle out of the dealership. It’s likely an easy checklist item when your CRM integrates with your service scheduler because the customer will already be in the system. Squeeze out a little bit of time during the vehicle delivery process. It is long, with lots of down time as the consumer waits.
Getting that first appointment is key to establishing a service relationship, which may be the only opportunity you have to turn that person into a lifetime service customer. Research shows you may see a 2.3-times increase in the return rate of customers when they are introduced to the service department at the time of purchase.1
Sales-to-Service Handoff Implementation Checklist
Intro Vehicle Tech in the Service Department
After someone makes a vehicle purchase, there are two big questions: Do they know how to use all of the technology and how did they learn to use it. Let’s remember, the technology-based bells and whistles matter to most of today’s buyers. It seems wise to ease the uncertainty some buyers may have: Are they buying a lot of neat features they will never use?
Your service department can jump in at the time of closing to reassure the consumer, “After you’ve driven it for a while, if you’re feeling unsure about how to operate this automated-safety or infotainment feature you just bought, contact us.”
Your customer-centric dealership needs to introduce the customer to the service department. This likely requires choreography between variable and fixed operations. By instituting the fundamentals of the handoff and setting the first service appointment, you will lay the foundation for a significant improvement in retaining your vehicle-sales customers for subsequent service.
Do you have a consistent Sales-to-Service handoff in place at your dealership?
1 Xtime 2017 Market Research
2 Cox Automotive Maintenance and Repair Study 2016