The “core” of your business is everything your dealership does to serve your customers and ensure they have a great experience; a big part of that is the service department.
But let's face it: some days, things don't go as planned. And even if they did, you probably still have room to improve. The good news is that there are ways to optimize your service department, no matter how big, small, or successful it might be.
Here are 5 steps you can take today to streamline your service department and ensure that all of your customers will leave happy and satisfied—and ready to buy more from you in the future.
Step 1: Engage with Customers
Don't you just love it when customers are engaged?
Engaging with customers is an important piece of the puzzle, especially in the service department. Customers who feel like they're being heard and taken seriously are more likely to return to your shop, and more likely to refer friends and family.
But how do you get your customers engaged?
The first is to make sure that your employees are trained on how to engage with customers. This is not as simple as sitting them down and telling them to be nice. You need to teach your employees how to engage with customers on many different levels, from the basics of communication skills (eye contact, body language) to empathy (being able to put yourself in their shoes). Engaging customers can be a challenge for some employees, especially if they're not used to dealing with people outside of work.
The second is to make sure they understand what it means to engage—not just by listening to them, but also by understanding what they want and need from your business. You want to teach your employees how to build relationships with customers and how to become trusted advisors. You also want them to understand what it means when a customer says something like, “I need help finding the right product for my needs.” In this example, it's not enough just to say, “Yes sir, we have lots of options!” Instead, you should ask questions like: What kind of products are you looking for?
And third, you have to be ready for engagement! Make sure you have plenty of ways for customers to connect with your team, including email addresses and phone numbers listed on every page of your website, as well as social media accounts where people can engage directly with team members that they may have about whether their vehicle is in good working order or not.
Step 2: Update your Service Business Model
In the case of a service department, updating your business model may include how you schedule technicians, what tools and equipment you use, how your parts inventory is managed and other factors that affect how your department operates.
The first step in creating a good service business model is to identify what works best for your dealership. If you don't know where to start, here are three tips on creating a good Service Business Model:
Define the Problem
The first step in creating a good service business model is to figure out what’s wrong with your current one. Start by identifying the biggest problems you’re facing and what you can do to solve them.
Identify how you can get ahead of competitors.
Once you’ve identified your biggest problems, it’s time to think about how you can gain an advantage over the competition by solving those problems better than they do. This doesn’t necessarily mean competing on price or having more locations; instead, it means looking at ways that you can solve problems better than anyone else in town — whether it’s by offering more efficient services or offering customers a more enjoyable experience.
Put together an actionable plan for change based on your findings
Now that you know exactly what needs changing, it’s time to come up with an actionable plan for implementing these changes within your business model so that they have the greatest impact on improving customer experience while also reducing costs and increasing profits
Step 3. Focus on Customer Retention
Retention is important! It's the lifeblood of your business. You need loyal customers to keep your business relevant and growing. But there are a lot of factors that can turn your customers into ex-customers—and once they're gone, it's hard to get them back. So how do you keep them?
The good news is that there are a number of strategies you can use to streamline your service department and boost your customer retention rates. Here are three ways to do just that:
- Be Proactive About Your Customers' Needs - One of the most important things you can do for your customers is find out what their needs are and how they want to be treated. Look at surveys, call them after they've had their cars serviced, take advantage of social media interactions, or invite them into the shop for coffee. The more time you spend getting to know them personally, the better equipped you'll be when they have questions or concerns about their vehicle!
- Provide Excellent Customer Service - One of the biggest complaints people have about car dealerships is poor customer service—and this is especially true when it comes to service departments. You don't have to be a "car guy" or girl (or even know much about cars at all) to provide excellent customer service. You just have to know how to listen, empathize with your customers' concerns, and make them feel valued. This will help them feel like they can trust you and that their vehicles are in good hands, which will lead them back again and again!
- Offer the Best Prices - When it comes to car dealerships, price can be a major factor when choosing which one to take your vehicle for service. After all, it's not fun having to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket just to fix your car when you're already struggling financially! That's why providing excellent customer service and offering competitive prices is so important—it will help attract customers back again and again!
Step 4: Create “Service” as a Brand
If you have a great product but your service team is lacking, then your customer experience will suffer. If you have a great product but your service team has no brand identity and no way to convey what they do, then your customer experience will suffer.
Your customers don't care if you have the best products on the planet; they want to know that when they buy from you, they'll get the best service possible. That's why it's so important to create "service" as a brand in car dealerships—because it's not just about selling cars anymore; it's about providing an all-around positive experience for your customers.
3 Tips for Creating a Brand
- Make sure everyone in your dealership knows how important it is to create "service" as a brand. From front desk staff to salespeople to managers, everyone needs to be clear on what that means and how they can contribute to making sure it happens.
- Train all employees on what good service looks like and how it feels for customers. Then hold them accountable for living up to those standards.
- Set up a system for measuring service levels and customer satisfaction so that you can identify where improvements need to be made.
Step 5: Embrace Technology to Increase Communications
Technology is changing the way we communicate in our daily lives, and it's time that car dealerships caught up. Today, we'll show you how embracing technology can help streamline your service department, increase communication with customers and employees, and make operations more efficient.
Only a handful of dealerships have a fully-integrated mobile app for their service departments, meaning that a lot more dealerships are missing out on an opportunity to streamline operations and increase customer satisfaction. But you don't need to be part of the group that is missing out, because there are so many ways to make your service department more efficient without investing in expensive new technology.
Tips to Embrace Technology to Increase Communications
- Automate Your Workflow - Automating your workflow is the first step to streamlining operations, increasing communications and improving customer service. Automation can be used to schedule appointments, send confirmation emails and text messages to customers, as well as send notifications to technicians when they're needed on a job. Use a car dealership software like Quickride to automate your workflow and create a more efficient service department.
- Increase Efficiency and Productivity - Automating your workflow can also help increase efficiency and productivity. For example, automating service appointments cuts down on the amount of missed or forgotten appointments and reduces the time it takes for customers to get their vehicle serviced. With Quickride it reduces the amount of time it takes for technicians to get to their jobs and lets you know when they're on their way. Quickride also allows you to schedule maintenance appointments, creating a better customer experience and reducing the number of customers that come back because they weren't informed about upcoming service.
- Reduce Employee Turnover - One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is employee turnover. The cost of losing a valuable employee can be significant, not only in terms of lost productivity but also in terms of training costs for new employees and the loss of customer confidence when they see familiar faces disappear. Quickride helps reduce employee turnover by providing a better work environment and allowing you to track performance with real-time data on all aspects of your business, including fleet operations.
Technology like Quickride can help streamline your service department, making it more efficient and effective than ever before. With Quickride, you can engage with customers, update your service business model, focus on customer retention, create “Service” as a brand, and embrace technology to increase communications—all in one tool.
Doing all of these things means that not only are you creating an incredible experience for your clients but also that you have the tools in place to continue building strong relationships with them after their visit!