The Problem Facing The Fixed Ops Department
The reality is, mobile mechanics and affordable aftermarket shops mean most dealerships are losing nearly all their customers right after selling them a car.
You may have a master mechanic on hand but people just aren’t interested in getting service at the dealership. As the fixed ops department can account for a lot of a dealerships sales in any given time table, it’s crucial dealerships have the proper strategies in place to bring in a healthy, loyal crowd to get their required vehicle servicing.
To help dealerships reel in some of these customers, and sustain a real healthy fixed ops department we’ve put together a short list of ways you can win back some of these customers through creative, and effective strategies that are proven to work.
#1) Sell an experience
Don’t just sell your customer on the features of a car you’re selling. Sell them the benefits! For example, if your customer is a family man, you can explain how the SUV is the ultimate family getaway vehicle for summer fun!
The same can be said about selling service. Don’t just lay out a bunch of recommended service. Sell them on why it’s important. Explain how the tire tread is dangerous and can put the customer’s family in danger if the tire pops at high speeds.
You can explain how if it doesn’t pop in the city, then when the family is set to go on vacation in a few days they may pop on vacation! Nobody wants their vacation ruined because of PREVENTABLE maintenance. You can say how if they are going camping, one stick can be the death of your tire and if you don’t have an extra you can be stranded in the middle of nowhere (without cell reception!)
The point here is to sell them the benefit of getting the service done NOW instead of waiting until something happens.
Another thing you can do to really go above and beyond for your customers is: you can offer unique giveaways. For example, do you know the family has a dog? Send them a dealership-branded dog tag with a note saying how you hope Baxter the bulldog is enjoying his trips to the dog park in his parent’s new SUV.
#2) Service Financing
Sure your dealership may finance car sales for customers. But do you offer customers financing on their service repairs? The reality is, most people can’t afford a large repair without drowning in credit card debt. When your dealership doesn’t offer customized payment options you’re letting those customers slip through your fingers!
Reap the interest rewards
This is also a great way for dealerships to make a lot more money on service repairs and really increase revenue over time. Dealerships can reap the rewards of interest being accumulated onto a sale while giving the customer the repairs they need to drive safely.
Not only can your fixed ops department make more money from the interest (paid), but you also have an easier time upsell customers.
“I’ll get to that when I get paid”
As many people can’t shell out a lot of money on unexpected repairs they often put off pricey work. Just think about it if you were in the shoes of a customer who just got told they need $1000 of repairs.
What would sound better to you? $1000 right now to complete the needed repairs or $50 a week for 20 weeks? We would take the latter option. It’s also psychological and works in your favor as a smaller $ figure spread out simply appeals to people more than a lump sum payment. It comes across as less money than it is.
Financing gives advisors an easier time closing bigger sales as well. Without this option available to customers, and they CAN’T afford the service up front it leaves everyone upset. It leaves the fixed ops department without a sale, the customer upset and their families anxious about an unsafe car.
It also gives the customer the option of going to another shop at a later date. With larger chain stores such as Canadian Tire here in Canada offering customers financing on repairs, they will simply go where they can get the deal that’s right for them.
Auto repair financing solves all of these problems and relieves the pressure of a large repair order. When you offer to finance it lets your dealership come off as the best option in the anxious mind of the customer. They are already at your fixed ops department and want their vehicle fixed. This gives you an immediate advantage over the other guys.
When you offer them a flexible payment option it gives the customer even MORE reason to just approve the work on a plan.
#3) Embrace Technology
It’s time dealerships embrace new technology. With so many customers fleeing the dealership for aftermarket shops, something needs to change. What dealerships can do is embrace tech into the fixed ops department.
As thousands and thousands of aftermarket shops already use tech in the service department, dealerships really need to catch up. If a customer can get this kind of service at aftermarket shops, why would they go to a dealership?
The first thing dealerships can do is to implement an automated email system. This can do wonders in maintaining a relationship with customers while providing them with value. You can send them email reminders of what needs to be serviced next (based on their manual.)
Next, you should begin writing blog posts! You can write posts that would intrigue anyone who drives a car. For example, you can write about “the top 5 best road trip destinations”, or write about the importance of regular oil changes. The limit here is really your imagination. The goal of writing blogs is to maintain that relationship with customers by giving them valuable insights from experts like you!
Next, your dealership can start a monthly newsletter that pushed out all the news happening in your dealership. You can offer customers your blog posts, updates on what vehicles you may be getting soon. You can even offer your newsletter subscribers special coupons like “10% off your next oil change!” just for being part of your list.
We would also recommend making use of social media, and remain active on it! As more and more millennials are on the road, you need a way to connect with these people. So what do you do? You go to where they are! Create social media profiles on all the popular sites including by not limited to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
On these sites, you have the opportunity to really engage with customers directly. You can post engaging content (like your blogs!) You can even post “stories” and show your customers what it’s like at your dealership on any given day. This is a great way to humanize your brand and a great way to show your awesome personality!
The more followers you get the better as well! You can host special promotions on social media where you post an image promoting your fixed ops department and ask people to like/retweet the post for a chance at a free oil change. People LOVE these types of promotions as people LOVE free things.
#4) Create Trust With Digital Vehicle Inspections
Easy Recording Options Increase Repair Jobs
Technicians can use their smartphones or tablets to easily record their inspection process. Digital vehicle inspections allow the tech to include video and images right into the report. This lets customers see exactly what technicians see, every step of the way.
It’s a real hit with customers as they now feel like they can make better, more informed decisions when approving work. Without this technology, they used to have to take a mechanic’s word for it when work is “needed”.
When the customer is educated, shops see can have a much easier time upselling work. Imagine combining the ease of getting customers to approve work with financing options available & informing them with digital vehicle inspection reports.
We actually conducted a case study where we found that on average, service centers that used our software found their average repair orders went up 25%!. When the customer feels like they actually have a clue what’s going on under the hood and in the minds of techs doing the inspections, they feel like they can make a much better/informed decision when approving work.
Every Step Made Simpler With WorkFlow1
With our WorkFlow1 feature, you can ensure your shop is always on the same page. From start to finish, this gives your team an at-a-glance progress report of the auto repair process. Service advisors can update the progress of the vehicle with a click of the mouse. They can even let techs know when parts are ready through the software or even by text message.
No more voicemails
The power of digital vehicle inspections means you won’t have to wait for a customer to phone you or have to deal with annoying voicemails. As customers are able to receive the full inspections right to their smartphones, including photos and videos, they can also approve the work straight from their phone.
Optimize shop performance
AutoServe1 has the ability to let you track important metrics as well. With our revolutionary software, you can see things like tickets created each day, all the inspections done, and even team member performance. You can track how many jobs each of your techs have completed and evaluated what areas need to be improved, or how may need more training.
Dealers may need to have a completely different inspection process for in-house inspections than for service inspections. Or if you want different inspections for different parts of the garage that’s also possible. For example, you can have special inspections for your pit stop crew that needs custom inspections for things like tires, oil, and fluids.