Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to attract new service customers. With the possible exception of first-time buyers, owners of equipment who are not your customers are either using another servicing dealer to take care of their equipment, or in many cases, handling the basic services themselves. In today’s world, with margins consistently dropping on whole goods, and the internet pulling parts sales out of many stores, it’s more important than ever to make your service department attractive to your customers and to those hundreds of other customers that may have purchased equipment from another dealer or mass merchandiser.
To pull service customers from your competitors, or to take customers who do their own service or have a professional service department assist them in the care and maintenance of their equipment, your service department has to be unique. You then have to spend your marketing dollars to send out that message.
Too many dealerships spend all their marketing efforts trying to get customers to purchase their equipment, but miss the value in growing their whole goods business and customer traffic the easy way – through their own service department. A servicing customer, who was not originally a whole goods or parts customer, can easily be transformed into a service, parts and whole goods customer if your service department is set up to give him a “Wow” experience.
What’s a “Wow”? It’s your service department getting equipment back to the customer when promised, and working as it is supposed to work. A “Wow” for a service customer is being able to have good communication with your service department, and no surprises on the bill when the equipment is ready for delivery or pick up. It’s regular marketing and follow-up to those customers after the service that will soon have them moving from being just a service customer to a whole goods and parts customer.
Here are five great ways to bring customers into your dealership through your service department:
1. Good processes create good customer experiences. Make sure your service department has strong written processes from the moment a service customer is touched, to the final follow-up call, so you can be certain the service or repair exceeded the customer’s expectations.
2. Advertise your service department. A dealership should invest 3% of the projected labor sales every year into marketing the service department. Marketing the services side of the dealership is just as important as marketing the whole goods side. Get creative; come up with a quick service solution for a basic service, such as a quick oil change.
3. Offer a free warranty inspection on equipment you sell that comes with a warranty, and even on warrantied equipment that a customer didn’t buy from you. You just want the customer to come into your service department so you have the opportunity to give him a “Wow” moment. When he leaves, you want him to be able to tell his friends about how good a job you did.
4. On a Saturday, once or twice a year, have a free service clinic. Invite customers to stop by your shop and learn from your technicians on how to take care of their equipment in order to maximize its life and usefulness. While it would seem counter intuitive to give away free advice, many of those customers will come back for repairs and full services in the future. Your goal is to build a strong service customer database that your dealership can convert into both whole goods and parts customers.
5. Be creative. Think outside the box. If you have customers who purchase from mass merchandisers, get with those stores to let them know that you are there and available to help their customers take care of the equipment they purchased from them. While 40-50% of those customers will continue to purchase from the “box stores”, 50-60% of them will consider purchasing from your dealership after they have had a positive experience with your service department.
Use your service department as a magnet to pull customers into your dealership, and watch your profits, parts, and whole goods’ sales soar!
Dealer Development Team