Service – customer retention is a stumbling block for many dealerships. There can be several reasons for this, but one of the main problems is dealers often fail to require the salesperson to make a proper introduction to the service department during the vehicle delivery process. If the salesperson’s pay is not tied to service-customer retention, then it simply isn’t done.

In order to improve sales to service conversions, dealers need to make sure their sales staff has skin in the game by tying this non-negotiable activity to their commission or bonus structure. Then, manage this activity by holding the sales staff accountable, as a condition of their pay and employment, through enforcement and consequences. You will see an immediate rise in tentative first appointments scheduled, which should be followed up with through a comprehensive service-marketing strategy.

Go Above and Beyond

Look, you’re competing for service work with national brands who may be located closer and more convenient to customers or who may be perceived as having better prices. Find a way to go above and beyond your competitors to build relationships, not just sales. Your customers choose to spend their money on your brand’s product and/or services. The money they earned by spending a portion of their lives working. They are, quite literally, giving your company a portion of their lives.

One suggestion is to offer service consumers a mobile application that will help them keep track and manage their servicing needs easily. Instant access to service information, including service history, appointment and maintenance reminders, online scheduling, coupons, or any loyalty programs you may offer. Consumers are spending more and more time on digital media as it jumped 24 percent over the past year; this was driving by a surge in mobile app usage, which increased to 52 percent.

As consumers are increasingly turning to digital media and mobile applications as the preferred method of information gathering, dealers should consider a dealer-branded, friendly app to communicate targeted messaging. But, it should be a tool that is consumer-friendly and provides value over and above the service aspect of it – something beneficial to the consumer’s everyday activities. Otherwise, they will not use it.

Here are a few consumer-friendly benefits to ensure mobile app adoption:

  • A parking assistant that sets the clock with parking meter reminders
  • A vehicle location finder
  • Integrates with their Roadside Assistance Program
  • Easy-to-search local gas stations and best pricing
  • Financial Lender integration so they can make a car payment at any time

Our entire lives are built on relationships – with our spouse, parents, children, friends, and even our coworkers. Retaining customers requires building relationships with your customers – not just so you can sell more, but so you can build trust and create a sense of community, which will entice customers to do business with you again and again.

– Bill Wittenmyer