Prove you value your customers’ time by improving your service status check process.  Photo by skeeze via Pixabay

Prove you value your customers’ time by improving your service status check process. Photo by skeeze via Pixabay

In the fixed operations side of the business, we use status checks to update the customer. When done properly, this will translate into happier customers who come back to buy more services and repairs. Let’s review the five critical elements of your status check process.

1. Realistic Expectations

When your service advisor tells a customer their repair “should only take an hour,” they are setting the customer’s internal clock and their alarm to go off at a certain time: one hour. A proper status check allows you to “reset” the clock to give you more time. Don’t do it properly, and your customers will end up in the service manager’s office 100% of the time.

In survey after survey conducted by manufacturers, dealer associations and marketing companies, this is the No. 1 complaint among service customers. How often have you heard, “I had to keep calling the service department to find out about my car”?

If you don’t know how well your advisors are doing on updating your customers, just go sit with the receptionist or in the BDC, starting about 1 or 2 p.m. It will be an eye-opening experience, I guarantee it.

2. MPI Results

When your next service customer drops off their vehicle, they will probably be told something along the lines of, “And while the vehicle is in for repairs today, we will complete a 27-point inspection, to see if there are any additional items that require attention. Once I get that report, I will call or text you with an update.”

When you get permission to call them with an update on the overall condition of the vehicle, it gives you permission to tell them everything that requires attention on their vehicle. Your advisor should take advantage of this perfect opportunity to make a service sales presentation — and you can reset their clock again.

3. The Details

It never fails: Just as the customer signs off on the estimate, they say something like, “Oh, and can you check the rear end? There is a noise back there.” Their complaint is noted in the repair order and the customer goes on their merry way.

By the time that customer calls, your service advisor should have checked that issue and be ready with an answer. Addressing the initial concern and saving the new issue for later tells customers you did not take them seriously.

By answering, “Glad you asked, we did check that, and you were right,” you have proven you take your customers seriously. You will earn their trust and their repeat business, even for minor issues.

4. Future Repair Items

Whether you work in a dealership or not, nobody likes unexpected vehicle repairs. You can’t allow service staff to overlook potential issues in order to get the vehicle off the lift and out of the shop.

Take every opportunity to book future service sales and demonstrate that you care about your customers’ safety and wellbeing. Those who feel they are being taken care of at your dealership will be less likely go somewhere else to get repairs done.

5. Pickup Scheduling

Planning and scheduling the vehicle pickup could include booking the shuttle, calling an Uber, or sticking the touchup paint in the glovebox. Whatever needs to be done to reunite your customers with their vehicles and get them both back on the road should be part of your status check process.

This is the last step in a successful service visit and one that yields long-term results. When you take the time to deliver the vehicle to the customer, you are cementing the customer’s perception that they can trust and rely upon you to make a confusing and often frustrating process go smoothly.

In many dealerships, lack of profitability in fixed ops starts with processes that do not get followed. Everything we do is a step towards building a relationship. The status check, when done properly, is one of the best tools in the advisor’s toolbox to increase service sales and boost retention.

Leonard Buchholz is a leadership and service sales process coach, a well-traveled trainer, and a former Marine. He is the founder of CarBizCoach and the author of “200k in 200 Days: Developing a Culture of Profit and Professionalism.”