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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.
CUSTOMER-CENTRIC: A SERVICE PHILOSOPHY THAT PUTS THE CUSTOMER AT THE CENTER OF EVERY INTERACTION, AS OPPOSED TO THE TRANSACTION.
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
TIP: SET UP THE FIRST SERVICE APPOINTMENT BEFORE THE CUSTOMER ZOOMS AWAY IN THEIR NEW CAR.
2.3X RETURN RATE INCREASE WITH SERVICE DEPARTMENT INTRODUCTION AT PURCHASE.
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.Tell us about your sales-to-service handoff below.
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1 Xtime 2017 Market Research2 Cox Automotive Maintenance and Repair Study 2016
There’s no better opportunity than customers that already feel good about your dealership. They have just agreed to make one of the biggest purchases of their life from you. It’s all fresh, new, and full of good vibes.
Temecula Hyundai understands the importance of this opportunity and capitalizes on it. They offer a full, formal tour of the service department to both shoppers and buyers.
“When you’re building value in the dealership, you need to show the full monty,” Steve Nicholson, director of operations says. “You need to show them what we have. And when you bring them to the back and show them your service department, how nice and clean it is, how nice your service writers are, you let the customer know just how friendly it is here.”
Vaden Automotive Group is assertive about the need for a handoff from sales to service. A service-handoff form is part of each vehicle purchase. Each month, deals that don’t include a sign-off on the sheet are reviewed with the sales consultants.
“It’s typically around 90 percent of our customers who get introduced to service in some facet,” says Dawn Newsome, vice president of operations for the enterprise headquartered in Savannah, Georgia.
Salespeople walk the customer back to the service department, even if it’s after hours, and Vaden’s call-center personnel follow up with the customer to see if they have questions about the car — and to set the first tentative service appointment.