I was recently talking to a Parts and Service Director at a large dealership that does several million dollars of service work annually. We were discussing how he is able to hire and retain top people to consistently hit better numbers every year. He told me that his service writers are probably the most important people in his operation and that’s why he works so hard to empower them and keep them engaged in the process.
I asked him what about your technicians, aren’t they also instrumental to your success? If they don’t fix the cars right, won’t your department eventually fall apart? And how about your parts counter people? If they can’t get the right parts for each repair, where would you be then?
His answer was yes—those roles are all vital and without those people he would definitely fail. Any service department has to be a team effort, he explained, but his service writers are the face of his department and no one interacts with more customers than they do.
To put it in perspective, if your service writer interacts with 15 customers every day, that’s 4,680 interactions every year. Assuming that each customer brings their car to you twice annually, that means that one service writer handles approximately 2,340 different customers every year.
A recent study conducted by a major carmaker indicated a major spike in the overall odds of selling a customer another car based on the number of times they visit the service department. A single service visit increased that chance by 29% while five visits bumped the odds up to 40%. So, we can see that service and vehicle sales are connected and that’s why your service writers can help you in both categories.
Is it really that easy? If you could ask any Parts and Service Director that same question, I am certain that they would give you an emphatic no. Driving the customer back to the service department is always a challenge, unless your service writers have established strong bonds with that customer. If your staff is was lacking the proper training or you don’t have the right service writers, you are going to have difficulty achieving service retention. That’s when another timely question should be asked—how much time do you spend developing your service writers?
Most carmakers do an excellent job of making sure that their sales teams know their products inside and out and some require that they take tests to prove it. Dealerships all over the country have daily sales training programs in place, but how many of them do the same for their service writers? Ensuring that your service writers are receiving the proper training is imperative. Reinforce that by furnishing them with the best tools for interacting with their customers. On average, a good service writer will generate more gross profit than a sales person, hands down.
A savvy service manager will not let a customer interact with anyone else than their service writer. It needs to be seamless and natural for it to work. When the customer comes for their appointment, the service writer conducts a walk-around of the car, suggests any maintenance or recall work and reaches an agreement after clearly presenting all options. They commit to a completion date and then communicate with the customer throughout the entire process, if they choose.
When the repair is successfully completed, the service writer concludes the customer transaction by fulfilling the role of the service cashier. The service writer is the ideal individual to answer any questions the customer may have concerning the repairs. By working exclusively with only their service writer, the customer feels better about the experience and is more likely to establish and ongoing relationship with them.
And one more thing—before the customer leaves, schedule his or her next service appointment pronto. You know their vehicle and how much drive they drive it, so leverage that knowledge and give that customer a thorough and buttoned-up transaction, because they will definitely appreciate it. Following up with a text message of “thank you” the next day or two is also a great way to add a little closure for a successful customer experience.
Car sales will fluctuate, but if can find and empower top service writers, you can ride them through those stormy days and rocky times to not just survive, but thrive!
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The first 24 hours are crucial for retaining customers
Texting is 10 times quicker than phone calls – by the time you make one call to a single customer, texting would have enable an effortless communication with 10 customers. The essential truth about retaining customers is the way you are able to keep them engaged. As the old saying goes – the best way to grow your customers is not to lose them.
Status Updates Can Improve Customer Satisfaction Rating By 10%
Informed customers are happy customers
Automated status updates ensure customers are kept informed during the service lifecycle.
Automated two-way communication
Reduce inbound and outbound calling between service writers and customers with real-time status updates via text messaging and email.
Available analytics in real-time provide realistic target date and time on all delivery promises. Customers are able to schedule and plan their day more efficiently.