Focusing on Your Dealership Service Drive in 2022

June 13, 2022 automotiveMastermind

Your dealership service department plays an incredibly important role in the dealership business. Whether it’s building long-term relationships with customers, driving revenue through repair orders or nurturing service-to-sales prospects, dealers are presented numerous opportunities to drive dealership revenue in the service lane.

Now as inventory challenges continue on and customer loyalty diminishes, it’s more important than ever to turn their sights to the service department.

In this blog post, how dealers can focus and grow their service department including exploring:

–   The value of the dealership service drive

–   How to provide an excellent customer experience in the service drive

–   How to use the service department to engage sales leads

The Service Drive Has Tremendous Value – and it’s Only Growing

The dealer service center  has always played an important role inside the dealership. It may seem like an obvious statement, but the value hidden throughout your service department is second to none at your dealership. As dealers look for new ways to maximize their revenue, they’re increasingly finding the service department has grown to be a place for more than just writing repair orders and changing oil.

By staying in consistent communication with customers via the service department, dealers are empowered to:

●  Build relationships with customers

●  Drive revenue

●  Illuminate potential sales leads

Amid ongoing inventory challenges, the service drive has grown even more important in 2022. Today’s buyers are facing limited options, and many are keeping their vehicles longer while searching for the perfect new car. The average age of vehicles on the road continues to rise – now reaching 12.2 years according to IHS Markit, now S&P Global Mobility.

Additionally, research regularly finds the service drive to be a critical factor in dealership customer satisfaction. With customer loyalty falling to a six-year low in 2021, many dealers are looking to their service department to proactively prevent customer defection by building consistent contact with buyers after the sale.


Download the Whitepaper:
Working the Drive 101: How to Maximize Service-to-Sales Revenue


How to Provide a Great Service Experience

To maximize the value of their service department, dealers need to first offer an excellent service experience – something top of mind for many dealers. According to a recent survey by CDK Global and NADA, 86% of dealership respondents plan on continuing to focus on customer experience despite inventory shortages.

To compete in today’s customer-first era, dealers need to ensure their team is prepared to offer the sort of CX today’s buyers have come to expect. To provide an excellent service experience, dealers must:

Personalize Communication

Engaging prospects early with personalized messages can build buyer trust in the dealer’s entire brand, additionally setting realistic expectations with customers about availability and their buying power. This communication sets the stage for an excellent customer experience when buyers do return-to-market.

Show Respect

Great customer experiences start with building trust through a genuine personal connection with each consumer. Researching a new vehicle requires lots of time and energy, so respecting a customer’s investment – by doing your homework prior to connecting with advanced digital marketing tools – sets a continuous tone of respect.

Empower the Team

Regardless of their strategy, equipping your service  team with predictive marketing tools empowers your team to exponentially improve their customer communications. These tools enable your team to automate otherwise timely or complex tasks such as pinpointing customers ready to trade-in their vehicles or matching prospects to available inventory.

How to Drive Revenue Using the Service Department

As OEM incentives dwindle due to ongoing inventory challenges, many dealers are looking to their service department to fuel their ongoing marketing and sales efforts. According to a recent industry survey of dealership fixed ops leaders, 1/3 of respondents say a “BDC Specialist” is among the top roles their dealership plans to grow in 2022.

To maximize their sales and service revenue, dealers need to:

Target the Best Service-to-Sales Prospects

Of course, not every service customer is a sales prospect. Dealers need to take a targeted approach to mining their service drive for potential sales and service leads. This starts with taking a data-driven approach to identifying prospective service-to-sales leads, ideally using advanced predictive marketing technology. With these tools, dealers can pinpoint when a customer is preparing to return to market, as well as the factors influencing their purchasing decisions.

Pre-Owned Inventory Acquisition

Outside of sales opportunities, the service drive also offers dealers struggling with inventory challenges a sustainable source of high-quality, pre-owned vehicles, even as auction prices remain at historic highs.

To support this process, dealers need to ensure their sales and service teams are on the same page. Service teams need to be informed on which vehicles they should be prioritizing for pre-owned acquisitions.  Additionally, they should be primed on the potential customers with service appointments that are well-suited for buy-back or trade messaging. This is where the previously mentioned predictive marketing technology can once again aid dealers by streamlining the process of identifying and engaging service customers driving  in-demand vehicles.

Service Payments

As the average age of vehicles on the road continues to grow, service customers will likely need more intensive services as their vehicles age. While some customers may be prime service-to-sales prospects, your service team needs to be prepared to write profitable repair orders. When communicating these costs to customers, its critical dealers emphasize the value of their service team. Demonstrate why customers shouldn’t trust their vehicle to anyone else to retain their business over time.

Retention Customers

As customer loyalty diminishes, the dealership service drive offers dealers the opportunity to proactively prevent customer defection by staying in consistent communication with their most valuable customers. In fact, automotiveMastermind finds customers who service at the dealership are 2.5x more likely to purchase their next vehicle from that same dealership. Engage loyalty customers with well-time service alerts, in their preferred format. Every customer communication should build off the last, nurturing and retaining customers until they eventually


Download the Whitepaper:
Working the Drive 201: How to Maximize Service-to-Sales Revenue


Conclusion

The service drive has always been important, but in recent years, new opportunities and challenges have increased its importance to dealership profitability.

Serving as the main line of contact between dealers and buyers throughout the (increasingly long) lifespan of a vehicle, a well-connected service department offers dealers plentiful opportunities to grow their business. But to truly maximize their revenue dealership-wide, dealers need to focus on creating impactful customer experiences and crafting communications that foster ongoing customer engagement.

Want to learn how automotiveMastermind can help maximize your dealership’s service-to-sales process? Contact us.

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