Customer retention, especially service customers, is a hot topic among car dealers these days. Dealers have finally taken notice that 70% or more of their vehicle owners abandon the dealership for service after the new vehicle warranty runs out. Yet for years, dealerships have had a powerful, if underused, customer retention tool embedded in their service processes. It’s called the active delivery.
This is the service advisor’s opportunity to convey to the customers the value they received during their service visit and to set the customer’s next appointment. Active delivery is part of the service process in nearly every dealership yet it is usually left to the service advisor to decide whether or not to use it. Too often the service advisors decide to skip this all important step.
Active delivery should not be optional.
By taking a few extra moments when you hand the keys back to the customer you can improve your overall business, customer satisfaction, and greatly increase the likelihood that your customers will come back to your store for their service needs..
This time is so important because this is the time that the customers are asking themselves, “Did I make the right decision?” There are so many choices in automotive repair, not only between facilities but also in the level of service and preventive maintenance that it is getting to be crucial that you reassure the customer that they made the right choice.
Don Reed, president and founder of fixed operations advisory firm DealerPro described the active delivery in an article he wrote for Auto Dealer Monthly: “When the repairs are complete, an active delivery should take place. More and more, in an active delivery is the service advisor fulfills the role of the service cashier. The service advisor is the person who’s best equipped to handle any explanation of services or to answer any questions the customer may have regarding the repairs. This leads to a much stronger and more positive customer experience.
“Before the customer leaves, schedule his or her next maintenance appointment. It’s no different than your hairdresser. This person knows your hair grows x amount over x time and based on your hairstyle you will need a trim in five weeks. Because of this, your hairdresser asks to set the appointment in five weeks. You might choose four or even six weeks but usually you will schedule at that time and even if you have to reschedule you rarely cancel.
“Implement the same practice in your service department. The service advisor has the driving history of the customer, knows the scheduled maintenance, and can use a service menu to show the customer the OEM’s recommendations. That should make it easy to calculate when the next service would likely be due. The service advisor can simply say, “Mr. Jones, based on your driving patterns, your vehicle would be due for scheduled recommended maintenance about July 15th. Would you prefer a morning appointment like today?”
Doctors always take the opportunity to schedule a patient’s next appointment. As Don Reed points out even hairdressers use a form of active delivery to schedule their customer’s next visit. Getting a customer to commit to coming back to your business at specific date and time is almost the definition of customer retention. It would be a shame to let a valuable tool like this go to waste.