Improve Customer Retention with Your Fixed Operations
By: Brett Coker
When you treat people well, they keep coming back. And that applies to Fixed Operations in your dealership day in and day out. The individuals that purchased their vehicle from you or get their service regularly through you are relying on you for great advice even though they may not expressly tell you that.
First, we are going to share a few foundational rules before we create some solutions for this arm of your dealership. If you don’t follow these rules, the techniques we’re about to share won’t work.
- #1 Don't sell your customers unnecessary services. That won't do anyone any good and could hurt you in the long run.
- #2 Always tell your customer what they need done to make sure their car or truck is safe, reliable, and won't break down.
We know that when you look at your Fixed Operations you want long-term profitability and customer retention. But we also know you may not be sure what to do when a customer declines a service that you recommend. Let's tackle that first.
You respect their choice at the time, of course. But it is the dealership's job to follow-up on those declined services later. When it comes down to it (remember the rules!) you're making sure that your customer's vehicle is safe, reliable, and operating to the manufacturer's specifications and achieving maximum fuel economy.
If your team is willing to do the follow-up work, and it should only take 10-15 minutes a day, we suggest these steps:
- Get six file folders
- Mark them Monday-Saturday
- Whenever you have a declined service, make a copy of the RO
- Determine when you should follow-up with the customer based on the nature of the declined service and write the date on the RO
- Safety concerns may be in 2-3 days
- Tires may be in one week or so, and so on
- Drop the RO in the appropriate day
- Every day look at what RO's are in that folder and call the customer, then either refile for the next follow or discard as the customer has just set an appointment
Call them and remind them at the appropriate time. Build value, overcome objections, close the sale, set the appointment. Many times, the customer will thank you for the call or indicate that they are not quite ready, but would like a follow-up in another week or so. Customers will appreciate your concern for them and their vehicle.
The Dentist Analogy
You can also learn a lot in the Fixed Operations space by looking at your dentist's office. While cars and teeth may not seem to go hand in hand in your mind as you read this, trust us. There's a valuable connection between the two and your Fixed Operations planning.
What happens each time you go see the dentist? They book your next appointment. They put it on a card, assigning you a time and date six months from that moment so you receive the appropriate check up, and your teeth and gums stay healthy. You put it in your calendar.
We don't do everything we absolutely could to implement this kind of system. Yes, we have stickers on the corner of a windshield or door panel to remind customers of their next needed specific service to that sticker. We also may send them an e-mail reminder through an outside vendor. Or we might rely on the MMS (maintenance minder system) or some version of it to alert the customer. But when you really consider it, we could be doing more to guarantee our customers are walking back inside our doors.
When you're a leader, and you are if you're reading this blog, it's important to help your customer figure out what to do. So, you should tell them, just like your dentist. When they come in a service appointment, set their next appointment.
When you get that appointment on the books, your customer has made a commitment to you. Follow-up with them a week before their scheduled appointment via email or a self-addressed postcard (just like many dentists do!) and call them the day before their appointment.
Try these techniques at your dealership, and we guarantee you'll get some satisfying bottom-line results in your Fixed Operations.