Many customers come to a dealership for service only expecting the repairs they’ve scheduled. Recommended services are declined, the customer leaves, and potential revenue disappears. So how can your store capture those declined services? Three ways: accountability, transparency, and strategic follow-ups.
The first step to securing more declined service revenue is to have technicians and advisors log declined services during every appointment. This is simple if you’re using a dealer friendly multi-point inspection tool that requires it. But beyond equipping your staff with the right tools, your employees have to adopt the habit of logging declined service opcodes. Many tools enable you to make declined service opcodes mandatory, but you can also incentivize recording those opcodes to get your employees on board. Gift cards are always a great idea for individual rewards, but incentivizing your team as a whole works, too. Try setting a goal for increasing declined repair revenue for a given week or month, and have a celebratory team lunch or outing afterward if that goal is met. If it’s not, offer encouragement to try again, and maybe up the ante regarding the reward. Because if those declined services aren’t captured, there’s no possibility of getting them back.
Nobody wants to hear they have to spend more money than they anticipated. Transparency can help customers get past this. Explain to them that you start every appointment with a vehicle inspection to identify any concerns, that way they’re prepared in the instance you find repairs. After the inspection, tell them the repair opportunities you found, how you found them, and—most importantly—why the customer should have them fixed. For suggested repairs that aren’t urgent, it’s a good idea to say something like “this isn’t an issue now, but it will probably need to be fixed the next time you come in.” By keeping your customer informed ahead of time, you’re showing that you’re looking out for their well-being and not just looking to make a quick buck.
The more evidence you can present to the customer, the better. A clear MPI report can show the customer the items that need attention and the urgency of the repair. An often-overlooked aspect of the MPI is that it also shows the customer what doesn’t need to be fixed. By only focusing on the problems, you’re putting the customer on the back foot. But showing them that their vehicle is in good condition other than one or two repairs identified can help establish trust and guide the customer toward accepting the new ones—especially if you can show them photo and video evidence of those repairs.
The two key times to follow up with a customer are immediately after their service and about 1-3 months before they’re due for their next one. Professional, automated follow-ups are the easiest way; they don’t require any time or effort from your staff—and they’re low-pressure for your customers. All you have to do is set up the communications in your marketing platform, and your customers will automatically receive a reminder of their declined services and an option to schedule a new appointment. Most platforms will even allow you to optimize your store’s follow-up cadence, so you can communicate the declined repairs to customers in a strategic sequence that gets them back into your store.
Since follow-ups are so crucial to ensuring customers follow through on previously declined repairs, your reminders should also be sent through multiple channels: email, mail, voicemail, social, text, and/or your BDC. According to a study by J.D. Power, 34% of customers indicate they prefer to communicate via text message. However, customer communication preferences are consistently changing—meaning a multi-channel strategy for your declined service communications is as important as ever for ensuring those opportunities are captured.
What to Avoid
A simple reminder can help your store recover more previously declined services, but it’s never a good idea to badger customers about it. It seems to go without saying, but your advisors don’t know what influenced your customer’s decision to decline. They may be waiting until their next paycheck, have another appointment to get to—or maybe they’re looking to sell the vehicle soon and don’t want to pay for repairs beforehand. Whatever the reason, driving a hard sell is only going to alienate customers. And those customers will take their business elsewhere.
The Bottom Line for a Better Bottom Line
The more declined services your dealership can capture, the more profits you’ll enjoy. There could be hundreds of thousands of dollars of unsold services walking out of your store every month. But with a few simple adjustments, you could recover that lost business in a big way.
Director of Professional Services
Insights | May 26, 2020