It’s important now more than ever for dealerships to offer a variety of services to help their customers through these challenging times - particularly when they’re the go-to service provider.  - IMAGE: StockSnap via Pixabay 

It’s important now more than ever for dealerships to offer a variety of services to help their customers through these challenging times - particularly when they’re the go-to service provider. 

IMAGE: StockSnap via Pixabay 

Last year, a survey was conducted of more than 16,000 auto owners. The study found that 3 out of 4 vehicle owners prefer dealership service. It’s important now more than ever for dealerships to offer a variety of services to help their customers through these challenging times - particularly when they’re the go-to service provider. 

I encourage all fixed ops departments to see how they can help their customers now more than ever with simple solutions that can save big headaches down the road.

We’ve seen more customers taking advantage of the downtime to handle things like recalls, oil changes, replacement tires, check engine lights, and more. Through direct marketing approaches, we’re reaching out to our customers and encouraging them to take care of those items they’ve pushed off far too long - like brakes, tires, belts, hoses, and more. 

Service drives that keep good customer records can use these to ensure their customers’ cars are safe for the road. At Rock Honda in Fontana, CA, we’re also taking advantage of the technology available to us like email blasts and text messaging to stay in touch with our customers and helping them to use this downtime to get the important work done now before it’s too late. 

Paying for it, With the Best Terms Out There

Another way my dealership is offering differentiated service is by helping our customers to pay for their auto repairs over time – without having to front the entire bill at the time of service. We know that our customers want to keep more of their hard-earned cash in their pockets. And one way our service department is helping customers do just that is by offering a buy now, pay later option. 

In 2016, our dealership began offering flexible payments via a technology company named Sunbit, which offers an easy and fast way for our customers to split their auto repair costs into monthly, manageable payments. All that is required is a driver’s license, email address and telephone number to apply. The best part is that this doesn’t require a hard credit check and APRs are comparable to traditional credit cards.

In about 30 seconds, our customers can easily find a payment plan that works with their budget and more than 92% of customers get approved, in fact to date we’ve generated more than $2.7 million in fixed ops revenue. Not only are we helping our customers to leverage the power of payments by making necessary repairs more affordable, but we’re also continuing to achieve record sales goals year-over-year. It’s a win-win for everyone.  

Extra Care During Uncertain Times

We know that our customers expect our auto shop to handle their car with extra care. We are making sure we go the extra mile ensuring that our customers' vehicles are cleaned and sanitized for health and safety. We want to ensure our customers that their vehicles are safe both on the road and while they’re sitting behind the wheel. 

We’re also offering pick-up and drop-off services so that our customers do not have to leave their home if it’s not necessary. And we’re ensuring that our dealership drivers who provide this service are wearing the necessary PPE to double-down on our customer’s protection.

While we know that a majority of customers still prefer to come into the dealership themselves, we’ll provide them with masks and gloves as another way to show them how much we value their health and safety when doing business with our dealership. Of course, we continue to sanitize and clean all of our workspaces and common areas - like waiting rooms - regularly. 

Driving Into the Future

In some spots around the country, auto services have been and continue to be essential. And while various populations begin to open back up, we know that it may be awhile before things return to a normalcy we once knew. 

As service directors know, when our customers wait too long to get their cars fixed (or find out why their check engine light is on), the costs for repairs can skyrocket - and right now everyone is looking to reduce spending as much as possible. And if your customers do need a repair or fix, consider offering them a payment plan to help them split the costs and pay over time. This may help you retain your customer (and avoid unnecessary declines) and help car owners keep more cash on hand for other important and essential needs.

Rock Honda will continue to provide safe and reliable auto repairs and service well into the future. We will always care for our customers and their cars and provide a safe and sanitized service experience. 

I encourage all fixed ops departments to see how they can help their customers now more than ever with simple solutions that can save big headaches down the road.

Ruben Serna is the Parts & Service Director at Rock Honda in Fontana, Calif.

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