Once a customer drives away in their brand new vehicle, how can a dealership bring them back before it’s time for a new one? Maintenance, of course!
But what’s the best way to convince customers that dealer maintenance stands heads above getting their car serviced or repaired by their local mechanic?
In order to successfully continue their relationship with customers once the sale is complete, dealerships need to highlight their complimentary maintenance programs, educate customers about the need to use certified technicians to work on their vehicles, and put a hard focus on customer satisfaction.
Complimentary Maintenance Programs
One of the best tools in a dealership’s customer relationship toolbox is complimentary maintenance. If customers get free oil changes, tire rotations, and other services for a set amount of time, it’s a no-brainer for them to take advantage of this rather than paying their local mechanic or mass merchandiser to perform the same service.
Why do some customers fail to return to the dealership for complimentary maintenance, then? In many cases, it’s because the dealership has done a poor job of educating their customers about the existence of the program and the customers aren’t aware that they have access to it.
This is why it’s important for the sales person to go over the complimentary maintenance program with the customer after a new car purchase. In addition to this, sales staff should walk the customer back to the service department and make an introduction. “This is Steve, a happy new Toyota customer! Steve, meet Jim. He’ll be your service advisor when you come in for your first oil change, which will be due in X number of miles!”
The customer will be pleased at getting a year or two of free maintenance. Meanwhile, your dealership will be pleased at how bringing the customer back in for complimentary maintenance gives you the opportunity to advertise new and upcoming products to your current customers.
Another important factor for dealerships to highlight is that vehicles serviced and repaired on their premises are taken care of by certified service technicians. The difference between dealership technicians and mechanics doing service at a mass merchandiser can be explained on a scale of A, B, and C. At mass mechanic facilities, technicians there can be described as C-tech. There’s nothing bad about them, but they are typically younger and less experienced. Perhaps they’ve just learned to change the oil and check the brakes.
If they do well and build a good reputation for themselves, they’ll be able to get a job at a franchised dealership. There, they’ll be a B-tech and will work on a flat fee rate in exchange for manufacturer training. In addition to manufacturer training, dealer technicians also work to become ASE certified, with many of them becoming master technicians that are certified in all systems of a vehicle. Once they’re an ASE master technician and manufacturer trained, they’re an A-technician: the best of the best.
These are the people customers want handling their vehicles.
Mass mechanics also can’t compete in the area of customer satisfaction. In fact, customer satisfaction isn’t even on most mass mechanics’ radars. If a customer isn’t pleased, their local mechanic isn’t likely concerned, as there’s always another customer that needs service done. Franchised auto dealerships have a reputation to protect because they’re not only servicing the car, they’re hoping to sell that customer more cars in the future. They also have to live up to manufacturer standards for their dealerships.
This is why auto dealerships are very customer service-centric. From luxury waiting areas with free drinks, snacks, and Wi-Fi to complimentary car washes when service is performed, dealerships strive to make their customers happy. Lately, many of them have upped the ante, offering to pick up customers’ vehicles from home or work and drop them back off when service is complete.
We suppose you could say that the benefits of dealer maintenance boil down to three C’s: complimentary maintenance, certified technicians, and customer satisfaction. It’s how dealers keep their cars running and their customers returning.
Reveal the underlying retention strategy of a dealer-owned maintenance program in the Conquest Vs Retention Infographic.