Ok, so you have a great team of technicians and advisors in your dealership's service department, right? If you're like most service managers, then you know it's important to take a good look around your service drive even when you think things are great. You know that in everything, there's always room for improvement. In terms of regular maintenance and service repair, repeat customers are something that your team should actively be striving for and maximizing every repair order is crucial for service department success.
Capitalize on technology to increase service lane profits. Using state-of-the-art electronic vehicle inspection systems allows your service department to get the job done more quickly (and more correctly) so that customers can get on their way. Technology for an improved and streamlined service department can create a huge boost in profits as well as provide a trustworthy and excellent experience for the customer.
Educate your advisors, again. Train (or retrain) your team to be knowledgable, approachable, and completely thorough. They should all understand the long-term value of a customer. Tell them to ask themselves these questions: Would you recommend a costly and unnecessary flush service to your mom? If your mom's brakes were in bad shape, wouldn't you recommend new brakes? If every team member treats every customer like their mom, you can expect results that provide a better experience for your customer that will in turn increase dollars per repair order.
Revisit your marketing strategy. Sometimes it's the simple stuff that works the best. Try things like offering free car washes for all customers, implementing and advertising a customer loyalty program that rewards customers for spending money with your service department, and/or targeting your inactive customers more often. Coordinate your strategy with the marketing department - be sure they get the word out about your service department's offers and promotions through your dealership's social networks. The more value you bring to the customer the more likely they are to visit your store, come back to your store, and spend more money with your store.
Eliminate expiration dates. First, make sure your coupons, messaging, and branding are consistent across all media: mailers, websites, and newspapers - there's nothing worse than customers getting mixed messages. Then consider eliminating your coupon expiration dates - remember that oil changes are not like new car sales. Customers who recently had an their vehicle's oil changed won't see your offer and say "Oh my gosh! That's a great deal on an oil change, I should run down there and get it changed again!" Creating that "sense of urgency" doesn't really apply to service repair. Boost service department traffic and repair order count by putting yourself in your customers shoes - let them decide when to come in for service - they may receive your coupon and save it for a few months when they'll need service next.
Beat the competition. You know you can't depend on new vehicle buyers to return to your store for service and you know that 80% don't return after just two years. If you really think about it, every car that starts out on the road has 100% retention potential. With over 100,000 independent repair facilities across the country for your customer to choose from, you have to do more to stand out. Take a few minutes and count the number of places in your area where customers can get their vehicles repaired - ask yourself what sets you apart from the competition and what would make you want to come to your store for service? When you find the sweet spot, you're sure to see your bottom line go up.
Know your customers. Paying customers can be categorized to three distinct types:
> Perceives a need and knows exactly what to do to have that need met.
> Perceives a need but it's not quite sure what needs to be done to have that need met.
> Does not have any perceived need for the products and services that you offer.
It is important that you accept and recognize all three types of customers, your approach to each will be unique. Work with your advisors to implement a plan to convert every customer into a loyal customer that will provide repeat service business. If you personalize your approach for each type of customer, you'll have a better chance at maximizing your service department's revenue opportunity.
Track key performance indicators. It is difficult to manage something that you cannot measure - you can't fix what you can't see. Make sure you're tracking the total number of repair orders that are written each day (Interval, Customer Pay, Warranty), total number of inspections vs. RO count, total number of carryovers ( probably shouldn't be above 20% of all repair orders written), and total number of appointments - set vs. fulfilled. Knowledge is power and with that knowledge you can take control of your dealership's service department profitability and increase dollars per repair order.
Mine your database. Prospecting for new customers outside of your database is far more difficult and costly than it is to get your lost customers back - statistics show it's 3 times harder to acquire a new customer than it is an old customer. Your service department customer database is a gold mine! Remind your active and inactive customers on a monthly basis that they are due for service. Keeping your message in front of them at all times is crucial for repeat business and increased dollars per repair order.
Focus on tire rotations. Times have changed. Vehicles are built to be virtually maintenance-free but you can still increase dollars per repair order by heavily advertising tire rotations. Though the factory continues to stretch oil change intervals, vehicles still need the tires rotated every 5000-6000 miles. Get the word out that these regular tire rotations are the easiest and most cost-effective way to ensure extended tire life. Offer rotations at an aggressive price point to get the customers into your service department and maximize dollars per repair order by selling additional maintenance.
Dress for success. Make sure you have the right parts in stock, the right staff scheduled, and the right attitude for success. Are your customer-facing advisors presentable in their attire? Is your service lane clean and presentable? Are the bathrooms in your customer lounge clean? Is the coffee fresh? Do you offer free WiFi? Approach every day as a new day, with optimism and enthusiasm. Inspire your team to think differently, to put every ounce of care into every customer interaction. If you knew someone important were coming to inspect your service department today and your jobs were dependent on the evaluation going well - wouldn't you put in that extra effort to ensure it went smoothly? Make this your every day and the numbers will take care of themselves.
As a dealership service department manager, you have the ability to increase dollars per repair order by making just a few changes and implementing a few simple steps into your daily routine. If you follow these steps you will definitely see an increase in profits in the following months. You have taken the time to build a solid team and now the sky is the limit!