June 2016 Newsletter

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As we all know, excellent customer service does not stop the moment a buyer drives his or her new car off of the lot. Our goal should always be to retain our customers not only for as long as they own one car, but for every future purchase as well.

Service departments play an integral role in maintaining ongoing relationships with customers throughout the life of their vehicles. Nothing turns a customer off faster than mediocre service! It doesn't take much to give a customer a "bad feeling," whether through an unfriendly service tech, poor communication, unnecessary repairs, or a dirty waiting room. And in todays world of Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, and email, one bad experience can go viral. On the other hand, one good experience can proliferate into countless referrals for both servicing and purchasing.

Is your service department providing excellent customer service for routine maintenance and repairs each and every time? It's important to set your dealership apart from the competition. We've put together the following checklist for you to determine if your service department is a source of pride for your dealership, or if it needs some serious overhaul.

1. Does your staff know your expectations?
Good communication skills are what set apart excellent managers from mediocre managers. Do you effectively communicate what you expect of your service staff? If so, how do you know if you message has come across? Of course, the only way you can tell your staff what you want is if you know what you want. Before you sit down with your staff, make sure that you have a clear picture of how you expect the customer to be treated, whether for a minor routine oil change on a new vehicle, or a major, expensive repair on an old one.

2. Do you inspect what you expect?
How often do you venture from your office over to the service department? You can get a pretty good idea of how your staff works with customers by how they work with you. Same thing goes for your shuttle service, if you have one. Have you taken a ride with your drivers?

3. Do your customers feel welcome?
This may be the 21st century, but manners still go a long way! A courteous and respectful service rep sets the tone for the customer's entire experience and can also help to diffuse a customer's frustration or confusion if a repair ends up being more extensive than originally thought.

4. Does your staff carefully inspect the customer's car with them prior to work being performed?
There are two advantages to inspecting the customer's car with them. First of all, it may help to identify other service needs that the customer had not anticipated and allows him/her to ask any questions that might arise. Second, it protects the dealership from having to take responsibility for any damage that may already have been present on the car.

5. Is your waiting area clean and customer friendly?
Today's customers are busy, savvy people. At the very least, your waiting room must be clean, well-lit, and comfortable as well as provide desk space and Wi-fi. A TV and light reading material also help customers to pass the time, while free coffee and beverages always go the extra mile. Remember, being able to wait for their car to be serviced is one reason why people go to a dealership for service rather than an independent mechanic, and these small expenses can add up to big business.

6. Do you wash every car?
Again, this is something that sets a dealer's service department apart from an independent service tech. It's a small courtesy to our customers that makes feel good about the dealership.

7. Does your staff explain all work performed on a customer's car, before and after servicing?
Transparency and good communication give customers another opportunity to ask questions and give you an opportunity to show your expertise and attention to details. However, it goes without saying that your reps don't talk down to the customers, either.

8. Does your staff follow up with every customer?
Make sure to solicit feedback from your customers through both informal conversations and formal surveys and phone calls. Does the customer feel that the issue was addressed, or is the car still not running well? Were they greeted with courtesy and respect? Was their car clean when it was returned to them? Were repairs completed in the time promised?

If you can honestly answer "yes" to all of these questions, your service department is already an important contributing asset to your business. If not, take a good, hard look at what you can do differently so that your customers feel that they come first. And as always, be sure to contact Autopeople if you need a manager who can take your dealership to the next level.

For more information about Autopeople, please go to www.autopeople.com or email us at info@autopeople.com

David Adragna

David Adragna

President & CEO Autopeople

David Adragna started his automotive career as the CFO of an 18 dealership automotive group. He later transitioned into General Management and Dealer Operator. He completely understands dealership operations and has developed an expertise in Automotive Recruiting. He uses his many years of hiring and managing automotive professionals to assist his dealer clients in finding the most qualified candidates available. As the owner of Autopeople, a National Automotive Recruiting Firm, he works with some of the most successful car dealers in North America.

Email David: dadragna@autopeople.com

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