The scene: Jane brings her 2011 Honda Accord in for service. With 105,000 miles on the odometer, the car has become her trusty companion—but as with any vehicle, issues pop up occasionally as the years add wear and tear. The a/c is blowing warm air, and she’s noticing vibration when she brakes: two problems that can easily be fixed with a new condenser and front brake rotors. So your mechanics listen to her concerns and send her off in an old rental to make sure that she won’t be inconvenienced. Over the next day or two, they fix up the Accord good as new and send Jane off in her faithful Accord with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. Right?
Sure, the service department should treat her with respect, diagnose and fix the Accord’s problems quickly and charge her fairly—but if that’s all they do, you have missed three opportunities that could have added up to big dollars.
1. Rethink your loaner program.
You may contract with a rental company, or keep a few older models around to let customers use while they wait for their cars to be repaired. But what if, instead, you let customers borrow the newest model of their current car? Sure, you would have to account for the extra depreciation on new models, and extra time to personalize a customer’s loaner car option. Maybe it wouldn’t be a viable approach for all customers. But for people who may be on the bubble about shopping for their next car, what better way to convince them than by letting them get used to the majesty of a brand-new model—and then have to face the gloomy prospect of giving it back?
2. Strike while the iron is hot.
Jane’s there. She’s literally right on the lot. All that money you spend just to get potential customers to set foot in your dealership? Boom. Saved. Make sure the waiting area in your service area is just as pleasant and welcoming as your sales area’s waiting room, if they’re separate spaces. Can she see information about a sales event, if there’s one happening? Get those beautiful new models into her line of sight, too.
3. Work the trade-in angle.
This is your opportunity to get a good look at Jane’s 2011 Accord and assess its value as a trade-in. And before she spends a few hundred bucks on repairs, you might want to give her the option of trading it in for a fair price and putting that money toward a new car.
The bottom line: Make sure your sales and service departments are communicating. Treat service customers as potential buyers. And use the data they give you to provide enticing, timely sales messages they’ll be happy to receive.