Archive for the ‘The Service Solution’ Category

Sunday service an answer to auto dealers’ prayers?

Sunday serviceWhen most people talk about Sunday service, very rarely are they referring to a trip to the service center of their favorite dealership. According to an article in Automotive News, a few dealerships across the country have seen the light and are opening their doors for additional weekend business.

Vista BMW Pompano started Sunday service center hours about 18 months ago in its suburban Miami store. According to Assistant Store Manager Frank De Varona, the new option is an answered prayer for some of his customers.

“Many customers prefer the convenience of dropping off their cars on a Sunday for an oil change or other light maintenance,” Frank De Varona, assistant store manager at Vista BMW Pompano, said in the Automotive News article.

“In the event they have a battery or a tire that needs to be replaced, we are here to do it, and they don’t have to wait until Monday.”

Common practice among these stores is to offer just the basics, saving major repairs for regular business hours, Monday through Friday.  Customers also are asked to make appointments due to the shortened hours, usually between 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

While Vista BMW is reaping the benefits of the added business, dealerships offering Sunday service are still few and far between, according to Automotive News.

In 2012, the last time this was reported, The National Automobile Dealers Association said that only 7 percent of the nation’s new car dealers opened their service centers on Sunday. More than half of those dealerships are considered high-volume stores, moving more than 1900 units a year.

The majority of dealerships setting the trend are in the Atlantic Coast region.

Despite the fact that Sunday service center hours haven’t reached biblical proportions, Vista BMW says they have drummed up a faithful following.

“It is really starting to catch on, going pretty good,” De Varona told Automotive News. “This is something we’ll stick with. The business is there.”

So if you’re dealership is looking for ways build a loyal congregation of customers, you may not want to rest on the Seventh Day. Instead, grant your customers a little grace and provide services on Sunday.

Can we get an amen?

Many vehicle service customers would rather go to the dentist, survey shows

service customerMost dealerships are trying harder than ever to take care of their service customers, but that doesn’t mean consumer opinions about how dealerships and mechanics/technicians service their vehicles are changing quickly.

In fact, 85 percent of customers rate getting their car serviced right up there with going to the dentist, and many women would actually prefer going to the dentist, according to the website AutoMD.

The survey was conducted in March and April of this year, with more than 2,400 online respondents answering questions about their service and repair experiences.

“We know that there are excellent repair shops and service centers in every city in the U.S., but, as this study shows, a persistent perception problem plagues the industry: Consumers simply don’t trust that they are paying an appropriate price for a repair and their view of the whole experience is, generally, not a positive one,” said Brian Hafer, vice president of marketing for AutoMD.com.

While women have a more negative view of the repair shop/service center experience than men do, across the board consumers say a more transparent process would improve the experience, according to the AutoMD survey. Consumers say that not knowing what a repair should cost is the biggest challenge in the process and that they want real “apples-to-apples” repair job quotes.

Among the major findings of the AutoMD survey are:

About 83 percent of those surveyed said they have “felt” overcharged for vehicle service at the repair shop or dealership, a number that has edged downward but has remained stubbornly high over the past four years: This year’s percentage compares with 85 percent in 2012 and 88 percent in 2010.

 A whopping 86 percent said that the repair experience ought to be more transparent.

Overall, 84 percent said that getting comparable repair price quotes, available for most goods online, is either “important” or a “must have” in the auto-repair process. And 91 percent said knowing the specific part to be used – and its price – was either “important” or a “must have.”

Almost two-thirds, 65 percent, said they have looked at reviews before going to a repair shop/service center, with women at 73 percent considerably more likely to do so than men at 64 percent.

There is opportunity for dealerships in the survey results, according to Hafer of AutoMD:

“Consumers are going online to check price quotes and repair shop reviews and are craving actual job quotes. So, for shops that are pricing fairly, offering real quotes and keeping up a good digital presence, there is a real chance to improve perception – and, with it, their business.”

– Mark Macesich

Oscar-worthy customer service

customer serviceWho doesn’t want the red-carpet experience?

Everyone wants to be put into the spotlight, especially when they are spending their time and hard-earned money.

Your car-buying customers are no different. They want to feel like they are the stars of the show. And let’s face it, a salesperson’s knowledge of the product isn’t going to keep the customers coming back. They can get that on their smart phone. It’s a stellar customer service experience that could set your dealership apart.

“World-class customer service” should be every dealership’s goal, according to Auto Dealer Monthly, because it “builds value for the customer without costing you a dime extra.” Here are five ways suggested by the publication to create a world-class experience for your customers.

1. Look at your business from the customer’s perspective. Ask your friends, to visit your dealership and your competition. Get honest feedback from a customer’s perspective and don’t be offended. Once you find out what the flaws are, fix them.

2. Actively listen to everything that can help you see what the customer sees. When customers talk, you listen. Really listen to all verbal and non-verbal cues. Focus on what your customers are trying to tell you about your sales processes, staff and facility.

3. Don’t just sell cars; maximize the fun. A smile, enthusiasm, manners and “can do” attitude goes a long way with a customer, and you should expect every employee to offer that to everyone who visits your store.

4. Improve constantly. If you haven’t changed something in the last 48 hours, you’ve just fallen behind the competition. Start with the small things. If your office is ugly, redecorate it. If your staff treats customers like an interruption, correct them.

5. Make things easy on your customers. In general, buying a car can be a stressful experience. Find ways to make things as easy and painless as possible for customers.

In short, a happy customer is a repeat customer. Customer satisfaction leads to customer loyalty. And when you have a customer’s loyalty, you will reap the rewards of increased referrals, leads and customers for life.

For dealer resources and additional information about Santander Auto Finance, visit our page for dealers.

– LaQuenda Jackson

Dealers Push Service to Make up Revenue

by Mary Wisniewski

Given the dismal economy, some dealers only see potential for their car service revenue to do well in 2009. To capitalize on this potential and attract new customers, dealers are marketing their service more. Hunterdon Auto Resource Center is one such dealership that expects to market its car service more this year, says Ernie Tufold, general manager.

Marketing its service offerings is a little easier for the New Jersey-based used-car dealership because it started as a repair shop. Now, Hunterdon Auto continues to service all brands, with the ability to do everything from repairing tires to installing moon roofs.

To entice new customers, the dealership offers perks. For example, it decided to offer a shuttle service for some of its corporate accounts a few months back. Hunterdon Auto also recently purchased a customer retention tool, which will allow it to reach out to customers on more occasions, sending them anything from an anniversary note to an oil change reminder notice, says Tufold. To further entice customers to come in for service, the dealership is considering issuing coupons this year.

“We are trying to figure out who and when we will target,” Tufold says. Hunterdon Auto Resource Center is certainly not the only dealership beefing up its service marketing to benefit from potential business.

Dealers “are expecting service to drive their dealerships,” says Jonathan Ord, chief executive officer at Dealersocket, a customer relationship manager technology provider. He notes there is a shift in the automobile business, from focusing on the front-end to the back-end.

One new way dealers are marketing their back-end business is by utilizing their vehicle databases to conduct marketing campaigns, Ord says. This works when dealers look at their key metrics to see what has driven past customers to make purchases. This technique is especially effective when it comes to service promotions, he says. “More companies are looking to use their databases better and better,” Ord says. “It’s so much cheaper than what they used to do.”

Not all dealers will offer more promotions in 2009 to attract new service customers. Toyota Town of Stockton in California will offer about the same amount of service promotional products in 2009 as it did in 2008.

Tony Mattice, service manager, says the dealership runs special discounted service prices to try to get people in the door and stay competitive with companies like Jiffy Lube.

Direct marketing by mail is the mosteffective channel to draw in business, Mattice says, describing television spots as more of a tap on the shoulder.

Toyota Town markets to some 10,000 to 12,000 people, using both an in-house list as well as a list from Toyota. What special promotion the dealership offers depends on the season. For example, a discount on air conditioning service is more likely to run in the summer. In November and December, the dealership hosted a canned food drive, as well as participated in Toys for Tots. When people provided a donation, the dealership gave them a $20 voucher for their next service visit with hopes to lure them back.

Other dealers simply rely on old-fashioned methods like word-of-mouth to drive new service business. Consider Butler, Mont.-based Max Motors. The dealership does direct marketing campaigns and occasional radio spots, says service manager Chris Sorrell. But he notes that most traffic comes from its good reputation.

“We’re pretty swamped for service,” he says. Sorrell credits this to the dealership’s location, a small town, and the positive customer service the dealership provides. For example, Max Motors picks up and drops off vehicles to its customers. “We’re just old-fashioned,” he says.