Dealership service departments are becoming a more important source of profit as new car sales slow. All those years of record and near-record sales numbers, coupled with the fact that people are keeping their vehicles longer than ever, leaves the door open for your store to capitalize in a big way. These strategies can help dealership service departments reach new customers and increase their transparency with the end goal of increasing customer satisfaction and gross profit.

4 Ways Dealership Service Departments Can Reach New Customers

According to Cox Automotive’s 2018 Service Industry Study, dealerships accounted for 33% of total service visits. While that was the highest among the types of repair shops included in the study, dealers will be the first to tell you that there's always room for improvement.

Here are four strategies dealership service departments can use to reach and retain customers:

  • How Dealership Service Departments Can Reach New CustomersIntroduce buyers to the service department at delivery – Make sure your staff takes each and every customer on a tour of the service department at delivery. Previous Cox Automotive studies have shown that this makes customers more likely to head back to your dealership for service.
  • Allow online scheduling – You need to offer your customers the ability to schedule service appointments online on the dealership’s website. The Service Industry Study found that one in five dealer service visits are scheduled online, so there’s certainly room for improvement. One way to increase awareness is to have your sales staff walk each customer through the online appointment process at delivery.
  • Don’t botch inbound calls – Don’t give consumers who call your service department a reason not to book an appointment. By answering calls in a timely manner, gathering information about their car and repair needs, and listening well, your service advisors demonstrate that your service department is up to the task. These common-sense practices demonstrate that you care, which can help your store book more appointments.
  • Use text messaging – Text messages are an effective way for service advisors to communicate with customers. You can send automated reminders for appointments, automated messages when it’s time for a certain services/repairs, special offer promotions, as well as updates about current repairs.

3 Ways Dealership Service Departments Can Increase Transparency

The Cox Automotive Service Industry Study also revealed that service customers demand transparency. A more transparent dealership service department can lead to improved trustworthiness, increased customer satisfaction, and additional profits.

Here are three ways dealership service departments can be more transparent:

  • Put pricing front and center – Putting price information on your dealership’s website is the very definition of transparency. Plus, you can showcase coupons and special offers that can help drive more customers to your service bays. The Cox study showed that cost was the top reason consumers said they don’t have their vehicles serviced where they purchased it. Make sure your store offers competitive pricing compared to independent shops in your area.
  • Have mechanics explain repairs – Trust can be shaken if the service advisor can’t answer a customer’s questions or explain the work that’s being done. While some dealer service departments have a tendency to hide mechanics, it might clear up confusion if you have them speak directly to customers about more complex repairs.
  • Don’t use pressure tactics – A no-pressure experience can certainly increase transparency and trust. Pressure can make a customer feel like they’re being coerced into repairs they don’t need, causing them to outright dismiss work that actually needs to be done. In the long run, your store is going to be better off clearly explaining which maintenance items are necessary and which are only suggested. Don’t forget to calmly and clearly explain the timeline and consequences of not having certain things done.

The Bottom Line

Trying new strategies can help your store reach customers you would’ve otherwise missed out on. Being transparent with them can lead to more satisfied customers and, eventually, more gross profit.

Auto Credit Express can help your store reach even more customers with our award-winning special finance leads, as well as our new and used car leads through CarsDirect Connect. We’ve been helping dealerships streamline their processes and increase sales for over 20 years.

Learn more about how your store can get access to these awesome leads by calling us at 888-535-2277 or filling out our online contact form.