A Service Department’s Keys to Success
Ken Hite, Vice President at ClearMechanic
There are four key elements to ensure your service department is successful:
1) Provide a great customer experience
2) Conduct a multi-point inspection process
3) Validate all service recommendations
4) Customers' repair experiences must be convenient and expeditious
Provide a Great Customer Experience
As a service provider, we must remember that customers aren’t excited about bringing their vehicles in for service, whether customer pay or warranty. The customer’s general perception of the auto repair industry is negative. Understanding this is vital for your service team. Your team must go out of their way to provide every customer with a world class experience. If you cannot deliver a premium experience, your competition will or – failing that – your customer will choose a service provider purely on price. That means you lose your customer or your profit margin deteriorates.
Conduct a Multi-Point Inspection
Every vehicle taken to your service department regardless of age or mileage should go through a multi-point inspection process. This process is imperative to ensure your customers are protected from vehicle safety issues and your service center is covered from a liability perspective. Proper inspections also make sure each vehicle is sourced for additional service recommendations (ASRs). Multi-point inspection processes have been around for some time and exist in various formats. However, there are two challenges with multi-point inspection processes: a) customers have complained of being over-sold and b) service facilities must validate and substantiate all ASRs.
Validate All Service Recommendations
This is vital to the success of any multi-point inspection process as well as to the success of your service department overall. Simply denoting on an inspection form by indicating an ASR is either “Red” or “Yellow” does not guarantee a sale. Some service center personnel believe if they mark an ASR “Red” or “Yellow” that a sale is imminent. This is what leads to customer perceptions of over-selling. It also leads to customer defection.
We have heard many customers state, “I’m afraid to return to my dealer since I have high mileage on my car, and I know that I’m going to get a long inspection sheet telling me all these items I need to buy.” A long “inspection sheet” is fine provided you can validate your ASRs.
The service department needs to treat every customer as a waiter. In other words, show the customer what your technicians have seen to justify your service recommendations. When waiting customers are presented with unexpected service recommendations, they are often taken to their cars to see leaks, cracks, wear and tear or failed diagnostic tests. Unfortunately, only about 10-20% of customers are waiters. How do you treat every customer like a waiter?
Validate All Service Recommendations (cont.):
You can treat every customer as a waiter by simply taking real-time photos and videos of your ASRs. “If you build it they will come.” This famous line applies to your service department and ASRs. If you will validate all repair recommendations with real-time photos and video clips of the customer’s vehicle, thereby substantiating the recommendation and offering transparency to the customer, then customers will come and they will purchase. This is a very simple and easy process, one that takes less than 30 seconds to accomplish.
There is a reason why only 20-30% of your ASRs sell through: customers don’t trust your repair recommendations. Don’t leave any doubt in your customer’s mind. Implement transparency within your service department and validate all repair recommendations with actual photos and videos of your ASRs.
At ClearMechanic, we regularly produce case studies showing how photo and video sharing closes $1,000 sales in 30 seconds. Please review our recent case studies on Beaverton Nissan (Portland, OR) and Fort Collins Muffler & Automotive (Fort Collins, CO).
Customers’ Repair Experiences Must Be Convenient and Expeditious
Customers want a convenient experience conducted in a timely fashion. We need to keep in mind that customers aren’t excited about bringing their vehicle in for service to begin with, thus we need to make this experience world class and convenient. Get them in and out of your service department.
One area that really slows down the repair process is waiting on customers to respond back to your service advisor’s phone calls/voice mails regarding ASRs. Often, vehicles sit on racks awaiting customer approval/decline or are pulled off and put on the storage lot until the customer returns the advisor’s calls. This process can be greatly enhanced by providing your customers real-time photos and videos of ASRs. If you automatically send real-time photos and videos of repair recommendations directly to your customer’s email and mobile phone, and also post them simultaneously to your web site, then customer response time will improve considerably and your team will be much more productive and efficient.
You’ll note that there isn’t any discussion in this post regarding labor rates, effective labor rates, hours per ro, dollars per ro, service to part ratios or similar metrics. Operating metrics are important, but we cannot be so focused on metrics that we forget about customers. If you take care of your customers, your metrics will take care of themselves.
About ClearMechanic, Inc.
Founded in 2009, ClearMechanic has proven experience creating award-winning applications for the automotive repair industry. Their existing mobile and web applications have delivered more than 200,000 repair recommendations and bring transparency and ease to repair center customers. ClearMechanic’s goal is to create a win-win for service centers and their customers and bring today’s Internet customers back to the service bay. ClearMechanic has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Automotive News and Consumer Reports.
For more information, please visit www.clearmechanic.com.