Building Service Sales with the “Walkaround”

walkaroundThe concept of inviting a service customer to leave the advisor’s podium and walk around the vehicle is not new. It has been a recommended part of the service write-up for over 20 years. The walk-around has been proven to work. Why then, are service advisors so resistant to using this important tool?

A while back, Car Dealer Insider conducted a consulting review of the service department at a Honda dealership in Delaware. One of the recommendations for improving service sales was to implement a vehicle walk-around. The service drive was ideal for such an exercise since customers could drive their vehicles to within about ten feet of the service advisors’ write-up area.

Yet the service advisors claimed they could not add the walk-around to their program. The objections weren’t surprising:

  • Customers are in a hurry and a walk-around takes too much time.
  • We have to get them written up and onto the courtesy shuttle by 7:45 a.m.
  • I have to answer the telephones.
  • I have to spend time looking up warranty operations codes.
  • We have to get the repair orders completed and dispatched to technicians.

After answering every objection and creating a process that allowed the advisors the time to walk around a customer’s vehicle, they reluctantly complied.

The results were gratifying. Before beginning the walkarounds, the four service advisors as a group were averaging a respectable 1.9 customer-pay-hours-per-repair order. Within three months, the service department average increased to 2.3 customer-pay-hours-per-repair order.

What added services did they sell during the walkarounds that helped produce those results? Sales of these five simple, yet essential, services increased just by examination and explaining the importance to safety:

Wiper blades: Sold on fifteen percent of all quick service tickets, a source of accidents when they don’t clean properly.

Battery service: Not on any OEM’s required maintenance schedule and yet it is the number one reason a car fails to start.

Tires: Consumer studies show that customers will buy tires from the first professional who asks for the sale. Tires are another major safety issue.

Brakes: If a service advisor is not at least presenting brake service on every vehicle with more than 25,000 miles, he or she is doing a real disservice to the customers. Lack of brake service has been identified as the cause of many accidents.

Belts: On many models, steering can become difficult and dangerous when worn belts aren’t spinning the power steering pump.

One motivating factor was the dealer’s Service Pledge: If we fail to perform a walk-around inspection of your vehicle at the time of write-up, your next lube, oil, and filter change is on us, free of charge.

After making good on the pledge a couple of times, the service advisors got the idea and found that merely presenting these relatively low-cost but essential services was not only good for the customers but good for the service advisors’ paychecks too.