Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Service Drive Top of Mind with Customers

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It might seem safe to assume that dealerships make most of their money selling cars, but the reality is that more than half of dealership profits come from the service drive. However, most car owners go to third-party service centers for their auto maintenance rather than to dealerships. With so much revenue riding on the service drive, it’s important to stay top of mind with your customers and keep them coming back. To boost the value of your service drive, we’ve compiled a list of some helpful tips.  

Here are 5 strategies you can use to keep your service drive top of mind with customers and strengthen customer retention at your dealership:

1. Streamline your service drive operations

Of course, the most important part is making sure that you provide exceptional service to your customers. Set yourself up for success by simplifying processes for your employees and your customers. 

Prepare ahead of time either the night prior to the service appointments or early in the morning before business hours begin. Schedule an employee to take care of simple checklist items like cleaning and organization or even moving vehicles into the technician’s stalls. Having the cars primed and ready for maintenance as soon as the technicians arrive is an extremely effective way to improve efficiency. These small tasks don’t seem like much, but they’re essential to a properly functioning business and will make work much smoother if you tackle them early.

2. Make customers feel comfortable and welcome

Service drive appointments don’t finish instantly, and some customers prefer to wait at the dealership while their vehicle is being serviced. This is a great opportunity to create a pleasant and memorable experience for your customers that will make them feel valued and respected. Invest in comfortable seating, appealing decor, free wifi, charging stations and concessions that customers can enjoy while they wait. If you have a physical space that customers prefer, you are more likely to keep them instead of using your competition.

3. Integrate with the rest of the dealership

The service drive isn’t a standalone feature or afterthought when it comes to your dealership, so don’t treat it like one! As we mentioned earlier, the service drive accounts for over half of dealership revenue. Make sure that customers who walk into your showroom are also aware of the service department and that your sales staff promote that area of business as well. You want customers to see your dealership as a one-stop shop for car buying and maintenance. Why would they go anywhere else if your dealership can do it all?

Have dealership employees refer customers to the service department for any maintenance they might need, or help customers proactively schedule maintenance appointments when they make a purchase. Make sure that dealership customers know what the service department has to offer and provide them with the information needed to schedule an appointment. By taking the initiative and offering service early, you’re showing the customers that you’re invested in the long-term success of their vehicle and that you’re capable of providing any support they might need.

Having clear, visible signage throughout the dealership and on the building that directs customers to the service department is another simple, effective technique to integrate these two vital parts of your business. It could also attract new customers that are just driving by in search of a local service provider.

4. Embrace the power of marketing

Most dealerships severely underestimate the power of marketing and even a little bit of budget will go a long way in setting yourself apart from the competition. By taking out local ads—whether they’re physical mailers, billboards, internet ad space or local TV advertisements—you can build brand awareness and stay top of mind when customers are looking for auto services. Rather than search around for somebody to repair their vehicle, they’ll already know your name if you’ve been marketing yourself successfully.

Find out where your customers are active online and start advertising there. It’s free to get started and post on social media, which can lead to great interactions and organic traffic. Additionally, you can spend some money on paid social posts to get more eyes on your ads and reach more specific demographics. 

Email marketing is another tried and true strategy for staying relevant to customers. Provide regular updates, special offers and helpful reminders that customers like seeing in their inbox.

Similar to marketing, it’s important that you manage your online reputation by responding to reviews, comments and inquiries. Reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook can have a big impact on how people perceive your business. Responding to both positive and negative reviews goes a long way in building a trustworthy reputation for your business. 

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5. Contact customers proactively

You already have detailed records of your customers’ vehicle information and service history, so why not put them to use? With a simple automated email or phone call, you can let customers know when their car is ready for its next service appointment and offer to schedule it. Or if you find out about a recall on a certain vehicle, you can contact any customers with that car and let them know about the problem and your ability to fix it. 

This strategy accomplishes several valuable things at once: it makes life easier for your customers since they don’t have to keep track of when their next service appointment is (you’ll just let them know) and if a recall comes up for their vehicle they know you’ll alert them about it. Over time, customers will trust you as a source of information and solution to their auto problems. By providing such a helpful service, they won’t mind seeing your name in their inbox or caller ID.

Customers are coming to you for a service and if you perform that service better than the competition, you’re likely to earn yourself more business in the future. Great customer service is essential to keeping customers on your side as research shows that 91% of consumers are willing to switch companies after one bad experience.

If you give customers a great experience that solves their problems, they’ll remember you and keep coming back. If you do an especially great job, they might even recommend you to a friend!

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