In today’s digital world, customers are connected and in control, so it’s no surprise their expectations have changed.

To keep customers happy and coming back, dealerships need to think differently about technology, customer touchpoints and service department culture. Service departments should be customer-focused and process-oriented, and leverage technology that allows the entire service department to be connected. That way, the department delivers a frictionless experience that elevates the customer experience.

Change Starts at the Advisor Level

Effective change can take place on the service drive with proper training and incentives that ensure everyone is aligned with the new digital service department. This whitepaper provides tips on how to deliver a digital and world-class experience at the service drive by adopting a comprehensive service delivery platform, transforming the department culture — and more.

Click here to download the free Whitepaper.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?
Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX.

 

Your service department is the foundation of the dealership. In fact, according to the National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA), 2018 mid-year service and parts sales are up by $1.65 billion when compared to 2017.

That usually means that advisors are busy writing orders, and service bays are humming with profitable work. As a result, now is a good time to make sure that your operation is optimized. And to that end, Greg Dryden — industry expert and Dealer-FX Vice President of Client Optimization — will hold two special sessions at NADA 2019. They’ll cover several actionable insights, and show you how to do the following:

  1. Identify gaps in current service department processes. Tasks like booking appointments, conducting the service write-up, inspection, and parts management.
  2. Calculate the impact on business, caused by gaps and breakdowns in their processes.
  3. Formulate a plan to address gaps in the customer experience while increasing throughput, capacity and parts and service revenue.
  4. Solve issues with parts specifying to drive overall efficiency in their service department.
  5. Structure pay plans that drive the behaviors required to drive key performance metrics for their dealership.
  6. Implement a plan to improve the experience at every touchpoint with the customer. That will help to drive customer satisfaction, retention and brand loyalty/repurchase.

Understanding areas of opportunity in your growing service business are the first step toward improving the process and, ultimately, creating a more profitable experience. Objectives such as these only happen through actionable best practices, shown and discussed by an industry expert. Be sure to save time to attend one or both sessions.

NADA Session: Service Department Effectiveness for the 21st Century

At NADA 2019 in San Francisco, Dealer-FX Vice President of Client Optimization, Greg Dryden, will illustrate the changing behaviors of consumers and how dealership service departments can optimize to increase their business.  Greg began his career in the automotive industry more than 25 years ago, as a Certified Master Technician. Since then, he has worked in almost every role in the dealership. At the OEM level, Greg has helped develop training programs for field staff, trainers, and dealership personnel for leading OEMs including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA Group), Audi, Mazda, Lexus, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Acura, Suzuki, General Motors, Mitsubishi, and Subaru.

During NADA, he will illustrate best practices across two days at the convention, discussing the following questions:

  • How close are you to being able to deliver a completely digital service experience?
  • How does a dealership use technology to create a frictionless service experience?
  • Which digital services hold the key to meeting new customer expectations?

Attendees will leave the sessions with a plan to enhance the customer experience while making service departments more efficient and profitable. Indeed, you will be able to begin your plan by attending this one-hour session. There are two sessions to choose from:

  • Session 1:
    When: Thursday, January 24, 2019
    Time: 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
    Where: 3010W
    Department: NADA Fixed Ops
  • Session 2:
    When: Saturday, January 26, 2019
    Time: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    Room: 3011W
    Department: NADA Fixed Ops

Click here to learn more about Service Department Effectiveness for the 21st Century check out the NADA 2019 Workshop Schedule and filter by Fixed Ops. Dealer-FX will be exhibiting at NADA 2019 in booth #3625S. See you in San Francisco!

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?
Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX.

The days are getting shorter, the air crisper, and playoff baseball is at hand. Which means there’s one question on everyone’s mind:

Is this when new vehicle sales start to slide, and the Service Department comes in from the bullpen for the save?

The answer, apparently, is that it “depends.” Comparing September sales to last year’s hurricane-fueled sales rally doesn’t exactly paint an accurate picture – especially when new car sales estimates remain over 17 million units. Still, there’s little doubt that overall sales are headed toward a year-end fade. As such, we’ve spotted a few trends and stories that might help you prepare for a challenging final quarter – and a successful start to 2019.

September New Vehicle Sales Declined 5.5%. Is it Time to Worry?

What: Automotive News calls it a second-half slowdown, and while that’s true enough there are a few interesting wrinkles in the story. Let’s start with a Harvey hangover from last year’s hurricane replacement business. Indeed, sales bettered the predicted 7% drop in sales and registered a 17.54 million SAAR as well – the fourth highest September on record. Still, the signs are clear: piles of discount dollars aren’t sparking buyer interest like earlier in the year.

Takeaway: It’s time to fire up the Service Closer. Service is the key to retention – something vitally important during slow sales cycles – and offers a sturdy profit center you can count on. It’s also a good source of new vehicle sales… if you’re prepared to leverage it. Are you leveraging customer data and mobile technology to build relationships at the service drive? Using the right tools to create a “right time” and consultative approach improves profitability, increases retention and lowers the cost of new vehicle customer acquisition.

Future of Mobility - Dealer-FX

Is the Future of Mobility Robots and Ride-Hailing, or Same as it Ever Was?

What: Earlier this month, National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) Chairman Wes Lutz took aim at the future of mobility, questioning the logic behind some very common assumptions like the emergence of autonomous cars and the effectiveness of ride-hailing services. According to Lutz, humans are actually quite safe on the road when you consider that we drive 90 million miles per traffic fatality. In regard to services such as Lyft and Uber, he pointed to a recent AAA study that showed using ride-hailing services cost more than twice as much.

Takeaway: Dealership business models are evolving. As such, the Service Department will play an increasingly important role in driving profitability and retention. Whether or not people use ride-hailing apps, buy their own car, opt for a subscription service or just go back to taking the bus, as options increase so too does the opportunity for the entire dealership operation to thrive. Things are definitely changing. And as they do, dealer managers will see increased Service opportunities to build relationships and drive efficiencies.

Speaking of Mobility, What About EVs — and their Impact to Service?

What: A recent study by UPS and GreenBiz offers good insights into fleet perspectives about EVs. That’s yet another one of those “future mobility” topics. Survey results found that environmental benefits and lower cost of ownership were the greatest drivers behind fleet interest: Over 80 percent cited sustainability, and 64% said that the expected lower total cost of ownership was a major factor.

Takeaway: The cost of ownership benefit includes direct and indirect costs over the life of the vehicle. That includes things such as fuel economy, but it’s also an expectation that EVs will require less maintenance than traditional vehicles. Indeed, according to InsideEVs, fewer components means fewer issues and less need for service. For service managers, it’s more complicated: As EVs begin to gain critical mass, dealerships may well have to factor in training and cost of electric service procedures; all of which may make the typical repair order more costly — but less frequent.

Slower Sales Call for Focus – and Creative Solutions

What: A recent series by Automotive News that features dealer success stories during the Great Recession. It chronicles what many dealers did to thrive under terrible sales conditions. For example, Ohio dealer Rhett Ricart improved team morale, while others focused on creating a better customer service and repair experience – an approach that has certainly reaped dividends today.

Takeaway: You don’t have to open a deluxe car wash.  however, slow sales offer a good opportunity to focus on retention and customer service. Indeed, consider what many studies have reported over the years: Around 70% of recent car buyers will use a third-party repair shop for service.

Trends like that can change through simple steps, such as introducing the service department to car buyers towards the end of the sale and connecting the sales team to opportunities at the service drive. It’s a fundamental fact that service departments can generate more than 50% of a dealership’s profit; as a result, keeping buyers connected throughout the entire process is a vital step toward thriving during a sales slump.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help auto brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Related Links

 

Quick: What’s the top reason for customer dissatisfaction? Unmet expectations. And while failed expectations happen for many reasons, at the core of every disappointing service experience is a breakdown in trust.

Whether that happens due to a broken promise time or another example of miscommunication, it still means that an advisor or manager overpromised results or underdelivered on educating the customer – the very thing that builds trust. Indeed, most subpar customer experiences happen because they either don’t trust you, don’t understand, don’t see a need or don’t feel there is any benefit or value.

The simple fact is by explaining the need and educating the customer, service employees build trust and show value organically. Of course, doing that starts with the typical four “Cs” of repair order writing: complaint, cause, correction and confirmation. But to go above and beyond, remember to apply the following new four “Cs” to your routine. They just may help improve CSI scores and build more profitable orders:

#1. Courtesy

Customers come to your service drive looking for help. Often, they know little or nothing about the mechanical operation of their vehicle. As a result, they arrive distrustful and on the look-out for broken promises. Add to that the fact that vehicle service and repair isn’t usually the highlight of someone’s day, and it’s easy to see how a little courtesy can disarm the crankiest customer. Make it a point to develop a routine based on personalization and courtesy. From a cheery “hello” to a personal approach, courtesy goes far in establishing the right tone of the conversation.

#2. Caring

You’re not filling out one of 20 repair orders. You’re helping a fellow person get their vehicle serviced with the least amount of friction to their day. Caring means going above and beyond to overdeliver in those occasional moments when a customer needs a little more than the standard operating procedure. Caring is making the effort, even though you may not have to do so. When that happens – when you care about the experience you help to create – that’s when you deliver on the business objective of happy customers and profitable service. Buying into the service process, from the technology you use to the established advisor routine, is the first step toward creating an experience founded in empathy, caring, and respect.

#3. Comfort

Making your customers comfortable doesn’t mean buying overstuffed furniture for the service waiting room. Rather, it symbolized the comfort of expertise: when you explain the value of a service, and “sell the why,” you’re creating an environment of comfort from which the customer will base his or her decisions. Remember, chances are they have been taken advantage of at another repair shop. Showing your commitment (to them) and expertise (as a service professional) increases their comfort zone.

#4. Confidence

Having confidence in what you say makes people feel confident in you. That’s a simple truism we all know, and one that’s especially important when it comes to service. Think of it this way: as the source of information, you’re the expert – and the customer takes your lead. If you project a friendly, assured and confident persona, they’ll be far more likely to trust what you say and agree with your suggestions. Remember, however, that confidence without the steak is just a bunch of arrogance with a whole lot of sizzle. So, if you act confidently without being able to back up those promises, the trust you build will soon deteriorate.

The bottom line is what trust does: make people feel important and empowered. Or as Mary Kay Ash said: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.” Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

By Ridge McCoy

Ridge McCoy is a regional performance manager for Dealer-FX. With 20 years’ experience in the automotive space as a technician, service advisor and shop manager, Ridge has participated in over 1,800 hours of sales, leadership and customer service training. He holds an Automotive Management degree from AMI, a business degree from Northwest University and has served as mechanical chair of the Automotive Service Association in King County, Washington.

Related Links

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?
Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX.

The service journey can be fast-paced and complicated. One missed appointment, a broken promise time or confused communication can lead to missed steps and a poor customer experience.

The pace of service retail in this digital-driven and on-demand market places a premium on efficiency and creates a need to build an automated monitoring, communication, and reporting technology. If you’re researching service dashboard-like solutions, make sure you start with these questions:

Service Dashboard: Dealer-FX

#1. How Does it Help My Daily Service Operation?

Service Dashboard enables managers to quickly track the progress of every vehicle through the shop, from before write-up to delivery. Advisors don’t spend time filling out route sheets because it’s automated, and service managers can quickly see all shop activity at all times. It also streamlines communication. For example, Advisors, technicians, managers and parts clerks can easily connect from their workstations. Automatically see the day’s appointments including transportation options and unfinished carry over work. View an up-to-the-minute timeline of the service process, with timestamps marking the completion of each step for every vehicle.

 

#2. How Does Service Dashboard Track Communication and Information?

All internal and customer communications are associated with a VIN, so the tool maintains a complete record of every message, recommendation, and response. In other words, “Who said what” is never in question. Send and receive texts with customers and department employees, keeping a VIN-level record of all communication in an easily accessible journal. Access the entire vehicle history with every document associated with a VIN, including pre-writes, menus, inspection results and ROs from prior work.

Service Dashboard: Dealer-FX

#3. Does it Help Identify Problem Cars and Broken Promise Times?

Yes. The Service Dashboard has an “Opportunities” tab that allows users to identify potentially problematic vehicles, including those falling behind the required timeline. It also highlights missed appointments, vehicles ready for delivery, those not delivered and more, including alerting employees when promise time and quarter-time targets are at risk.

Special Feature:  How does Service Dashboard help connect with customers?

Service Dashboard lets dealerships inform customers exactly where their vehicle is in the service process.  It also enables dealers to consistently meet that expectation. Service dashboard can also send technician recommendations to customers, and handles invoices and receive payments.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help auto brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Related Links

 

Summer is almost over. And it would seem the years of ever-increasing new car sales are also coming to an end, which means service departments will soon be more vital than ever — a fact that underlines the need for an effective operational plan.

Here are three headlines that show just how much things are changing:

How’s Your Technician Retention Plan?

A report published by Automotive News has showcased the current acute shortage of technicians. Simply put, it’s already a problem — and it’s getting worse as older employees retire. The numbers tell the story: According to automotive research firm Carlisle & Co., retirements in the coming years will create a shortage of up to 25,000 positions. 

Why it matters: According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), there’s an average of 19 techs per dealership, so this is a critical issue. Dealers can change the culture of the service drive to reflect a customer-focused, technology-driven approach to communication and workflow operations. That will appeal to tech-savvy Millennials.  Management will also appreciate the efficiency gains and younger recruits will feel at home in an environment that uses mobile devices.

New Car Sales are Down – Is it Time to Worry?

New vehicle sales lost ground compared to the first half of the year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean customers aren’t interested in purchasing vehicles. Demand is softening and consumer preferences are shifting toward larger vehicles. Case in point: According to Reuters, July passenger car sales dropped, but SUVs and trucks generally increased.

There are also signs the used car market is heating up. In July, the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index reported that used sales reached a 39.2 million SAAR. That’s the best figure since 2012.  

Why it matters: Any decline in new car demand is noteworthy. As competition increases, the entire dealership operation needs to operate at higher levels, especially fixed ops. Given this sort of volatile market, dealership managers should focus their time and resources on profit centers such as the service drive.  

New Technology is Good, but Iteration and Refinement are Better.

All the recent talk about autonomous vehicles has made it seem that no one will ever have to drive again.

Or not.

Broad adoption of self-driving cars is still years away. Autonomous leaders like Waymo are expanding their testing, taking things slow, learning and racking up miles. Why? Consider this recent report published in Automotive News: almost 50% of consumers surveyed said they would never buy a fully autonomous vehicle, and 85% said drivers should always have the option to take the wheel.

Why it matters: With their lives potentially hanging in the balance, consumers are thinking twice about handing the steering wheel to a “robot.” And that’s not a surprise. Disruptive innovations require ongoing development, testing, and refinement to provide reliable products that deliver lasting benefits. Waymo and its peers are dedicated to developing a technology-driven solution that meets a clear need.

In much the same way, dealership leaders should scrutinize service technology in terms of what how it meets evolving customer expectations…and how it fits into the overall technology footprint of the dealership. How does the service experience you deliver align with customer expectations? Does it provide a transparent and personal approach to customer service needs? Most importantly, if your technology is meeting today’s needs, is it also being constantly improved to meet tomorrow’s needs? Technology that’s not keeping you one step ahead will just be a part of tomorrow’s problems.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Related Links

 

Customers come and go. Hopefully, they come back. If not, we’ll send them a coupon!

Does this sound like your customer retention program? It might. After all, when times are good it’s easy to let retention fall off the radar. Investing in programs designed to bring back existing customers just doesn’t seem very important when they’re likely going to come back anyway.

And if they don’t, well – there are plenty of car buyers out there to take their place.

The trouble is that today’s environment is no longer so sunny. Granted, annual sales forecasts are still at healthy levels despite recent declines; a 16.73 million SAAR is a far cry from the days of the Great Recession. But sales volume is not the only factor. The current market condition is unique and volatile; as sales have slowed, credit has tightened, and the average cost of a new car has stayed pretty much the same. Meanwhile, variable expenses are up, in some cases significantly. Floor plan interest rates, the cost of hiring and employee retention, as well as marketing and advertising expenditures…smart dealership managers are already actively looking to cut costs and hang on to current profit margins for as long as possible.

The bottom line? The cost of doing business just got more expensive.

Time to Think About Customer Retention

Which brings us to the need for customer loyalty. An effective customer retention program will help lower the cost of acquiring new business, increase CSI scores and boost overall profitability. Indeed, as reported in the Harvard Business Review, most studies have found that acquiring new buyers is from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing customers. According to global consulting firm Bain & Co., increasing customer retention by just 5 percent boosts profits by 25 to 95 percent.

It’s just hard to beat a happy customer who comes back for repeat business and tells all their friends.
Best of all, it doesn’t take a million-dollar marketing “points” program to build and nurture a strong base of loyal customers (though that may help!). You just need a service drive that’s open to change and willing to work in a customer-centric manner. In fact, put these three simple tips into action and see how effective your service drive can be at improving customer retention:

#1. Connect Sales and Service with a Simple Introduction

During the sales or F&I conversation, walk the customer over to the service department. Introduce them to a service manager or advisor, and briefly talk about the strengths of your department. That may seem a bit obvious, but it doesn’t happen nearly enough: recent studies found that most new and used car buyers were not introduced to the service department, even though it’s a clear difference-maker.

Remember, consumers generally look at dealership service departments as the primary source of expertise when it comes to vehicle maintenance. Linking sales to service, with a simple introduction and/or a technology connection, is a good way to introduce a dealership strength into the experience.

#2. Sweat the Small Stuff

Make sure communication is tight. That includes dialogue between advisor/customer and advisor/technician. Make sure you’re leveraging the customers preferred feedback channel, and that promise times are transparent and carefully communicated. Indeed, how you communicate is almost more important than what you communicate.

As such, finding the customer’s preferred channel is paramount. For example, studies as far back as 2014 show that texting improves customer “show” rates and that properly staffed and scripted service BDCs can have a significant impact on appointment-setting – not to mention the reduction of ghost customers. For example, according to Connect Mogul, 90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes. That’s a powerful example of how the right communication channel can deliver results. Remember, we live in an on-demand world of customer service expectations; our ability to communicate properly helps to control what that means to customers.

#3. Measure Twice, then Optimize

Virtually everything in the service department should be transparent to managers, and trackable as a performance indicator. Whether that’s car washes, promise time success metrics, or more, service managers should have the capability to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of the shop’s workflow by identifying key metrics unique to the business. When results are tracked and socialized, the culture of the team will change toward a more precise reflection of critical needs and retention opportunities.

Ultimately, dealerships that make the service department a centerpiece of their retention efforts, and do so consistently, are bound to create a strong first impression that’s reinforced over time, service and repair appointments. Leave it to the service department – the bastion of margin preservation during tough times – to be the place you can turn to improve retention and increase profitability.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Related Links

 

On August 2, Apple became the first U.S. company to reach a $1 trillion market valuation. In doing so, it crossed an interesting threshold once thought unattainable, at least for anything other than a global energy company.

But then again – was anyone really surprised?

Probably not. Apple is unique, after all, a public showcase of thinking differently. From iMacs to iPods and iPhones, the company has been on a journey defined by creativity and driven by innovation.

Here-are-a-Few-Customer-Experience-Lessons-from-Apple-Trillion Dollar Journey Dealer-FX

Apple is simply different.

But so is Amazon. And it’s no coincidence that Jeff Bezos’ company is in close pursuit of that trillion-dollar line. Their own valuation sits at around $424 billion. What’s interesting is that the two companies share similar customer experience keys instrumental to their remarkable achievements. Indeed, what’s most relevant about Apple’s $1 trillion valuation – and Amazon’s pursuit – are the things we can learn from their shared traits:

Culture starts with shared values

The memo sent by CEO Tim Cook after Apple reached the $1 trillion mark is a good example of a positive culture. You can read it here. The takeaway for service managers is how Apple and Amazon executives have aligned the company’s objectives with human values and hopes. This is critical because the digital transformation taking place in the automotive retail industry requires a culture shift inside the dealership. Technology only works if the team members see its value and are dedicated to making the change.

Technology that redefines the customer experience

For Apple, it’s been about design and the creation of devices that feel natural. For Amazon, it’s using data to anticipate behavior and supply the answer. Both companies blend amazing technology with an incredible human experience. This ideal has obvious application in the service drive: using technology to power human interaction is how relationships are made. It’s a vital component within the dealership sales and service cycle.

Create a need

No one told Apple that people would go crazy over the iPod. They noticed how the customer experience of the typical MP3 player was poor and designed an elegant user interface. Amazon didn’t wait for someone to tell them to create Alexa or apply Big Data to the shopping experience. With that in mind, how can service advisors use information and technology to introduce a need, and sell the ‘why’ to customers? It’s a good way to expand RO values and develop a stronger relationship with customers.

Creating a personalized experience

Your iPhone is personal to you. It doesn’t have to be a different colour (though that’s nice!) because the content is what makes it unique. Likewise, the personalization of the shopping experience is where Amazon gets its power. Innovations like recommendations, one-click ordering, anticipatory shipping, and price optimization make the experience unique – and uniquely valued. Creating a similar dealership service experience requires the timely application of knowledge about the customer’s needs. It also requires the building of a culture that seeks to make the experience more personal.

Someday, other companies will reach a $1 trillion valuation, and Apple won’t be alone. Yet what’s fascinating is that Apple’s success was accomplished in much the same way as it would be at the local dealership: through shared values, the application of leading technology and personalization for the customer.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Related Links

What’s the fastest way to get a “no” from the customer? Ask them to buy a service they don’t understand.

It seems like a pretty simple mistake to avoid, right?
Yet often, service advisors fall into the trap, mostly because they’re busy or not armed with the latest vehicle information. And when it happens, they lose the opportunity to show customers the value and quality of the dealership service experience.

Service Advisors Tell the What Sell the Why - Dealer-FX

Common Assumptions

What’s not so simple is how to demonstrate the value of quality service. In fact, there are a few common misperceptions that service advisors and managers have when it comes to how well customers understand their vehicle’s maintenance needs:

  1. They won’t spend money on service.
  2. They get the work done somewhere else.
  3. They understand the value of the service.
  4. They already know what they want.

Most of the time, these assumptions aren’t true – and they lead advisors into a classic mistake by asking yes or no questions. Here’s an example: “do you want to flush the brake fluid?” Clearly, the easy answer is no. When that happens, many service advisors will shrug their shoulders, check the box, and move on. But here’s the problem: with every rejection, the service department loses sales and an opportunity to create a bond of trust with the customer. In fact, this situation does the customer a disservice.

Be Successful at Selling the Why

Don’t walk into an easy no – educate your customers by telling the what and selling the why. Instead of asking the customer if they want a service item they know nothing about, explain why they need the service and what makes it valuable. In this way, the conversation about a brake fluid change goes something like this:

Your car is overdue for a brake fluid flush. This is important because brake fluid absorbs moisture, and excessive moisture can cause steam. Because brakes work in a high heat and friction environment, that can lead to brake fade, which increases stopping distance. It can also cause the caliper piston to freeze, so the brakes won’t work properly. On average, brake fluid accumulates moisture at the rate of 1% per year, and anything over 2% (two years) is considered too high. Would you like to add this service?

When customers understand the importance and value of the service, they’re far more likely to opt-in because it saves them time and creates peace of mind.

How to Sell the Why

To better “sell the why,” start by preparing your service advisors with talk tracks and relevant knowledge. In turn, they will use that knowledge to educate customers and build trust. Your service department should strive for a consistent “why” performance from all advisors, a goal that’s achievable when your appointment and check-in technology includes detailed information and reminders about key service items.

Ultimately, advisors are most valuable when they do exactly that – advise customers. This way, they guide and provide customers with the necessary information to make wise decisions about their vehicle. By keeping the “why” in mind, they can better educate customers and build a reputation as a trusted advisor – something customers should expect when they come to a dealership for service.

By Ridge McCoy

Ridge McCoy is a regional performance manager for Dealer-FX. With 20 years experience in the automotive space as a technician, service advisor and shop manager, Ridge has participated in over 1,800 hours of sales, leadership and customer service training. He holds an Automotive Management degree from AMI, a business degree from Northwest University and has served as mechanical chair of the Automotive Service Association in King County, Washington.

Related Links

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX. 

 

Thriving in the Emerging Customer Service Economy

Make no mistake: It’s all about the customer experience.
As such, to thrive in today’s automotive retail economy service managers and leaders need to think differently about how they use data and platforms when interacting with customers – and what that interaction looks like. And while it’s easy to point to the likes of Amazon as an example, keep in mind that servicing cars is quite different than selling books. It’s filled with unexpected vehicle issues, limited parts availability, software updates, customer no-shows, absent technicians and more. Every day presents a new set of challenges.

Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience for Today. and Tomorrow

So here’s the question: How do dealers deliver a customer experience similar to that of Amazon? Yet make it scalable to the complex service ecosystem? It starts by thinking differently about how they use data before, during, and after each customer interaction.

Two-Step Approach

Dealers who want to achieve this must take a two-step approach:

First, adopt a service department technology platform designed to deliver an integrated and thoughtful customer experience, across all customer touchpoints. It’s something that can only happen if the data collected is analyzed and then made available at these six critical moments of greatest service opportunity:

  • Customer connection
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Vehicle check-in
  • Vehicle inspection
  • Customer engagement
  • Customer check-out

Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience

Part One: Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience for Today…and Tomorrow
Part Two: Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience for Today…and Tomorrow

Every point in these six critical moments brings with it an opportunity to increase revenue, boost CSI, and improve retention – but only if the data is timely, easy to use, and relevant.

Keep in mind that available data points include vehicle history, service codes, diagnostic information, and GPS data. Just knowing history, service and diagnostic data can help to significantly personalize the customer experience, maximizing the chance the customer will be happy and will return.

Next, work to transform the department culture so everyone focuses on “over delivering” service needs — to ensure a great customer experience. This is a profound change for a business whose fundamental practices and processes have remained stagnant over the past few decades. In addition to adopting a set of new technology-enabled processes and using data to constantly measure each one, employees need to embrace a culture of being in business to serve their customers. This includes:

  • Relentless optimization of the experience, through data analysis and the establishment of customer-centric performance indicators. For example, tracking greeting time, wait time, improving walk-arounds, and ensuring the wash and top-off of finished cars. These micro-moments make a lasting customer impression.
  • Providing comprehensive training to every new employee. And then refreshing and retraining them consistently.
  • Benchmarking service department processes and CSI results, then driving toward specific areas of improvement.

The Connected Customer

Technology is only effective when the culture of the service drive promotes its use as an organic part of the daily routine. It’s not an either-or type of thing: without the right approach, the power of technology to simplify and streamline is impeded; without the right technology, a team intent on over-delivering customer satisfaction will become frustrated and leave for more sophisticated stores.

According to a recent study by Price Waterhouse Cooper, “an average of 48% of U.S. consumers point to friendly, welcoming service as uniquely defining success in an industry; fewer (32%) pointed to having the most up-to-date technology.” In addition, the study found that 55% of U.S. consumers “strongly disagreed” with the idea that human interaction would not be needed when technology improves.

The message? Humans + Tech = Better Service. And that creates loyalty. In the automotive space, when you put the two together the results are compelling across the six critical moments.

Headwinds

As the automotive industry simultaneously faces headwinds and change driven by connectivity and mobility, service department efficiency and profitability will take center stage as the most important part of a successful dealership.

To win business and increase retention, service managers must begin to think differently about how to create those perfect moments. And while it’s true that we can debate the impact of technology, one fact remains. Today’s consumer is already connected – and they expect you to be, as well.

Related Links

Part One: Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience for Today…and Tomorrow
Part Two: Creating a Best-Ever Service Experience for Today…and Tomorrow
It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It…and When