So your dealership is selling lots of new cars. Congratulations — but the work isn’t done! Unless you’re making sure each and every one of those new car customers is showing up for their auto service appointments, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business and generate recurring revenue.
Capturing the attention of new customers is hard; getting them to sign on the dotted line and make a purchase may be even harder. Once you’ve won them as a customer, however, it’s easier to keep them than it is to head out and find new ones. Auto service appointments are the key to customer retention, from complimentary maintenance to out-of-warranty paid repairs all the way through to them coming back to you for their next new vehicle.
Ensuring that your customers return for those complimentary maintenance appointments is key. It starts before they leave the dealership on the day they purchase their new vehicle and in order to be successful, it needs to involve your entire staff working as a team.
Involve Your Sales Staff
While discussing the details of the vehicle, it’s important that your salespeople highlight your dealership’s complimentary maintenance program. Customers get presented with a huge amount of information when purchasing a new car, so it’s likely that this information will go in one ear and out the other. That’s why your whole team needs to be on the same page as far as driving customers to return for their auto service appointments.
Develop a sales handoff in which your salesperson takes the customer to the service department during a vehicle purchase and introduces them to the staff there. Encourage them to go ahead and schedule their first maintenance appointment while they’re in the service department. When a customer comes in for their first appointment, make sure their salesperson is there to greet them and check in to see how things are going; this goes a long way in making a customer feel valued.
Scheduling the Initial Auto Service Appointments
As the time for the first auto service appointment approaches, contact the customer via whichever means they’ve selected as their preference to remind them that their first complimentary maintenance is due. A phone call from the salesperson may be necessary if you don’t hear from them.
Once the appointment is scheduled, check in with them a couple of days in advance to ensure that they plan to show up. This will engage with them and encourage them to keep their appointment.
The last thing you want is a new customer showing up and having to wait a lengthy amount of time for their first auto service appointment because the service department is overloaded. Plan your marketing accordingly to bring in additional customers during times the service department is slow and fewer people when it’s heavily booked.
Track Lost Opportunities
As you spend the time and money necessary to retain new customers, it’s essential to track your efforts to see which strategies are working. Tools like the Lost Opportunity Transformer can help you identify which customers have failed to return for service appointments. Sometimes customers disappear because a problem with their schedule throws them off track and they simply don’t make time to call and make a new appointment. In other cases, they may have had a bad experience while they were at the dealership and didn't return for this reason. Tracking these “lost” customers gives you the opportunity to contact them, communicate with them, and bring them back into the fold.
Selling new cars is satisfying, but it’s important that your entire team realizes that the work doesn’t end there. When you encourage customers to return for their auto service appointments, you do more than generate one-off sales — you create loyal customers that will keep returning for life.