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4 Ways To Turn Fixed Ops Challenges Into Financial Opportunities

4 Ways To Turn Fixed Ops Challenges Into Financial Opportunities

We’ve Got Some Suggestions To Keep Revenue Flowing
Service bays across most dealerships have been full or over capacity for quite some time now. Customers have often had to wait days or even weeks for scheduled maintenance and simple repairs. Dealerships may very likely see a slump in Service business within the next two to three years due to selling fewer new vehicles and increased sales of off-brand vehicles due to inventory shortages.

If you adopt a proactive strategy, you can weather any coming storm, despite recession fears and difficulty in finding and retaining good Service personnel. A smart marketing campaign will boost Service loyalty and sales over the long haul. Investing in recruiting and training new Technicians can keep Service bays full despite market fluctuations. We suggest focusing your efforts in the following four areas:

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1. Boosting Customer Pay
As new car sales decline so will the number of vehicle trade-ins. Smart dealerships can make up those losses by boosting customer pay ROs. The best strategy is to run segmented marketing campaigns to cover as many bases as possible. Focus on scheduled maintenance and seasonal specials delivered to customers on their chosen channels. In addition, declined services present a completely different level of opportunity.

Declined service messaging focuses on the health of the car. Today’s customers respond more enthusiastically when service messaging focuses instead on the health and safety of drivers and their families. Service Advisors should offer to book appointments based on multipoint inspection reports, including photo and video evidence. Showing your customers potential problems often lead to them approving the suggested solutions.

Elead CRM2. Target Marketing
Every automotive CRM can segment customers and create target markets according to specific parameters. Dealerships can use that data to organize, automate, and synchronize customer communications across departments. Take the opportunity to drive messaging through preferred channels (email, text and phone) for mileage maintenance and declined service campaigns.

Fixed Ops marketing is a great way to build Service profits and can also be used to reward your most loyal customers. One best practice is to review invoice totals, identify who’s generating the top 20% of your revenue and reach out with a check-in call, a personal maintenance reminder and a service special once a quarter. These loyal customers are reliable, steady revenue providers and will refer you to family and friends, especially if you offer a referral bonus/discount.

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3. Getting Help
Your CRM can do a lot of the heavy-lifting of communicating with customers, but follow-up is key and that can be tough with limited staff. Start thinking about how to create greater connectivity between your Service center and customers by outsourcing some of the work. A dealership-focused external BDC is a good choice as most will scale up or down depending on your needs.

You also need to specifically focus on how calls to your Service department are handled. Many dealerships are shocked to discover as many as 16% of calls are never answered, according to mobile advertising company Marchex. When customers do connect, 63% of the time the call ends without a showroom appointment. If you’re sending marketing campaigns but then failing to answer customer inquiries or make appointments, you’re wasting money. The question to consider is whether you have enough phone coverage, and if not, if it’s time to consider outsourcing inbound calls as well.

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4. Earn and Learn Training
When driving traffic to your bays you’ll need well-trained Technicians to do the work. Forward-thinking dealerships are creating new and innovative ways to recruit the staff they need. Many are working with local high schools and community colleges to build a direct pathway by paying students to learn the trade.

West Herr Auto Group and Northtown Auto Cos. in upstate New York partnered with SUNY Erie Community College to graduate students directly into jobs. Since 2019, the program has graduated over 24 students who all went to work full-time for West Herr.

Earn and Learn programs require time and energy, but every high school and community college has career counselors who can help with recruiting. Offering paid internships to students interested in Auto Tech is an exciting opportunity to bring younger people into the profession. And while dealerships are building their Service departments, they’re also helping passionate students earn academic credits and acquire skills for a lifetime.

Being Exceptional
Anticipating a slowdown in Service sales over the next few years is the best way to keep revenue steady if a recession arrives. Targeted marketing campaigns are important, but making sure you have exceptional personnel to deal with the traffic is critical. As Service sales pipelines are being built, successful dealerships will be training and recruiting the next generation of professional Technicians. It’s time to evolve your Fixed Ops and staffing strategies to keep your dealership thriving.

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