When I bought my first vehicle in (1978), one of the most important steps in the process was talking to the service department. I wanted to be face-to-face with the person most responsible for keeping my vehicle up and running - and understand the cost of ownership. Getting their view on the vehicle's serviceability and overall durability made sense to me. It was a critical step in my decision-making process.
Today, more than 40 years later, it still makes sense. According to a recent article in Fixed Ops Journal, a lot of customers agree - nearly 50% of potential customers would like to visit the dealership service department during their shopping journey.
Yet, more than 60% of dealerships don't make the introduction. That's a huge missed opportunity, for two key reasons.
First, like me back in 1978, raising a customer's comfort level with the service department is a great way to help close the sale. In addition, 44 percent of a dealership's gross profit comes from the service department, according to NADA. It makes sense to introduce potential customers to the service side of the business to plant the seeds for future appointments.
But, there's an equally-compelling reason to make the introduction that most dealers are missing. Getting the customer to the service department also gives the dealer the perfect opportunity to check the prospect's trade-in vehicle to see if it has an open safety recall.
Why does this matter? For one thing, it's an easy revenue opportunity. If the customer is in-brand, you can repair their vehicle right there on the spot, generating additional service revenue for the dealership. If there's no remedy - or worse, Stop Sale recall - what better way to prove your trustworthiness than to offer a loaner vehicle! This is the chance to showcase that you care about people (prospect and customers, alike). The mere gesture of offering to check their vehicle for an open recall will create goodwill and lay the groundwork for a good relationship. If it's off-brand, what better way to show it's the person, not the car, that matters. You can simply tell them about it, or better… take it to a nearby dealer. This action will speak louder than words. And, they will be a bit more captive while shopping for a new vehicle on your lot.
Actually making the repair with no additional strings attached will take the relationship that much further. It sends a clear signal to the customer that the dealership cares about their well being. These customers will highly likely share positive word-of-mouth about your dealership, too.
Of course, there's a good chance all this will help close the deal on a sale, too. Either way, getting a prospect to the service department and checking for open recalls is a win for everyone involved.