In today’s automotive marketplace, dealerships are placing extra emphasis on the service department, looking for ways to improve their overall bottom line. Some are extending their business hours during the week and on weekends. Many have taken on the “we repair all makes, all models” mentality. Another popular train of thought is to hire additional staff (or acquire new service equipment) to make things faster and allow for more business.
To enhance the customer VIP service experience even further, we’re seeing some very unusual, out-of-the-box thinking by some dealerships, especially when it comes to the customer waiting areas. Gourmet snacks that go well beyond store-bought cookies and canned soda are becoming increasingly prevalent. One of the nation’s top automotive dealership groups has actually issued the edict that their managers hire people with hospitality industry experience to serve as service department goodwill ambassadors, concierges, and even coffee baristas. The logic? If they are exceptional at customer service, they have the most important thing you need – and anything they need to know from an automotive knowledge standpoint can be learned.
Service Department Improvements
It used to be that these special amenities were reserved for customers of high-line cars, but not anymore. The new, next-generation service department is here, and if your store hasn’t evolved accordingly you may not see the growth you’re after in this part of your store.
Car dealers will tell you it isn’t enough to just sell someone a vehicle. They want that customer to come back to the service department for maintenance and repair work, but it isn’t a “given” that this always happens (as most dealers know). The customer needs reasons to come back! They will return to the service department over and over again when they sense that they’re welcome and appreciated … and as an added bonus, they won’t feel quite as bad about the repair bill when they’ve had an otherwise positive experience.
Gone are the days when the customer sat in a dark, dirty service area … where a cup of old coffee, three-year-old magazines and a re-run of an old game show on TV were the norm. That just doesn’t cut it anymore.
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