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A chip shortage and depleted inventories result in lost money for dealerships, which, as a result, rely heavily on service lanes for income. This dependence means dealers must increase service lane traffic to recoup that revenue.
However, only some dealers employ the right strategies and technology to streamline the process and enhance the customer journey. Those dealers who do not emphasize speed and efficiency will lose ground to those who do.
This article outlines nine strategies to promote the efficiency necessary to increase service lane flow and keep pace in an increasingly digitized landscape.
9 Steps to Improve the Service Lane
1. Offer Same Day and Next Day Appointments When Possible
Dealer aftermarket competitors often encourage customers to bring their vehicles in for service the same or the next day. They are focused more specifically on service-related demands and are usually better equipped to handle last-minute appointments.
While this might result in schedule conflicts during peak hours (as discussed below), dealers should consider offering these short turnarounds when reasonable to compete.
2. Encourage Early Drop-offs
This strategy provides a two-pronged solution as follows:
- First, it lessens the likelihood that clients will miss appointments, resulting in a service lane running at less than total capacity.
- Secondly, the technicians waste less time between jobs when a vehicle arrives before a service appointment because they might have time to work on it immediately.
3. Offer Pickup and Delivery
Depending on service lane traffic and the necessary maintenance or repairs, customers may have to wait hours to receive their vehicle.
However, dealers can offer the choice for customers to wait at work or home by providing them with pickup and delivery transportation. This added feature allows mechanics to service cars conveniently (within reason).
4. Follow Up with “No Shows”
Most dealers have customers who do not show up for their appointments, and the reason is that their day got away from them, and they forgot.
To combat these lost timeslots, dealers should set up a process for following up with customers to reschedule.
5. Streamline the Check-in Process
Ineffective check-in procedures result in wasted time. Getting the consumer in and out as quickly as possible (without making them feel hurried or unimportant, of course) is the ultimate goal of any service lane.
- Dedicate a location on the lot for drop-offs and pick-ups to save time shifting vehicles.
- Gather the necessary information upfront to expedite service.
- Streamline vehicle pick-ups and the closing out of repair orders.
6. Hire More Staff
A simple solution to expand the number of vehicles serviced daily is to hire more technicians, supplied the dealer has the capacity.
More staff during peak hours can help dealers service more vehicles quickly, even if employed part-time, and knowing the daily schedule makes these staffing decisions easier.
Finding and successfully hiring skilled technicians can be challenging, but there are alternative hiring techniques to consider. For example, dealers might collaborate with nearby schools or leverage current personnel networks.
7. Offer Incentives During Non-peak Hours
There’s a good chance that certain times on specific days are consistently busy. Conversely, dealers likely have days when they expect minimal traffic.
To combat this inconsistency, dealers should explore methods to spread appointments evenly throughout the week. Those free times are excellent opportunities to delegate part of the workload from heavy traffic timeslots.
These strategies might include offering small discounts or a free car wash for scheduling appointments during off-peak times.
8. Encourage Online Scheduling
Many customers might not consider booking services online, even though it is an option. However, by encouraging customers to make reservations, dealers can prepare for days and times that will require the most technicians.
Dealers can make this process straightforward for customers by investing in scheduling software that simplifies online booking services online.
Online reservations also help in lowering the number of walk-in clients. When customers show up unannounced, they might request service during high-traffic hours, which increases the likelihood that they will be dissatisfied with the wait time.
9. Schedule the Next Appointment
Dealers should automatically book customers’ subsequent service appointments (depending on time and mileage) before they leave the dealership.
Along with giving them a card with their upcoming appointment’s date and time, consider an omnichannel approach that includes the following:
- A follow-up email and text when the customer leaves the dealership
- A reminder email and text in the days leading up to the appointment
- A phone call reminder
Boosting Service Lane Traffic Requires the Best Solutions
Incorporating some – if not all – of these steps into your service lane strategy can go a long way to streamlining the process and creating fantastic customer journeys. Those positive experiences can lead to satisfied repeat customers, ultimately boosting dealership revenue.
However, maximizing the results of any service lane strategy requires industry-leading service lane technologies that promote service retention.
Contact us today and discover how Affinitiv’s SmartLane can help your dealership boost service lane revenue by offering customers a streamlined and more enjoyable dealership experience.
All | November 17, 2023