Who Has the Greatest Impact on Customer Loyalty and Retention in Your Dealership?


Who has the greatest impact on Customer Loyalty and Retention in your Dealership?

Is it the Salesperson? The Owner? How about the Cashier? Or the Greeter? Don’t forget about Parts! Certainly EVERYONE in the Dealership has something to do with it.

But if I said the answer is “THE SERVICE ADVISOR”, how many would agree with me? Can I see a show of hands?

I suspect that most of you who are in the Service Department would agree with me wholeheartedly. There is no other person who has more contact with your Customer over the life of their vehicle than the Service Advisor.

So, what are we doing to MAXIMIZE the RELATIONSHIP with the one person we are constantly in search of and wish we had more of, THE CUSTOMER?

Over the past couple of years there has been a strong push by most Dealerships to do something. Anything that even has a hint of increasing the ROI with the Customer has been considered and in many cases, put into place.

“Customer Friendly” became the new buzz word and everything from new waiting rooms to on line service appointments, not to mention a whole host of so called “Customer Friendly” solutions like Coffee Bars and Free WI-FI, are now available and waiting at your local Dealership.

And while these improvements are certainly appreciated by our paying public, it seems that we have been addressing the Customer with amenities that are missing one crucial element, and that is the Human Element.

The point of contact where the Customer forms long lasting impressions and decides whether or not to continue to do business with your Dealership is in the hands of one very important person…The Service Advisor.

Remember them? They are the “People doing a People Business.” Have we been paying enough attention to them?

Let us review some recent history.

In the past 50 years there has been a change in the Automotive Repair world. It went from a “Dealership Service Business” to a “Customer Service Business.” And the people that got it right were the Aftermarket Service Providers.

How did they do this? They took the “Customer” part of the business very seriously and decided to be more convenient and offer Services the Customer really wanted. Things like convenience, competitive pricing and speedy service.

What did the Dealership Business do?

They competed on the platform of “We Are the Only Source for Repairs under the Factory Warranty.”

Which is certainly true, however, it has nothing to do with Servicing the Customer! And because of this, the numbers of Aftermarket Facilities now outnumber the Dealerships by a margin of 5 to 1.

From being the only game in town to a one in six chance of getting the business…Dealerships have to find a new way to compete.

For that, I give you… (drum roll please) THE WELL TRAINED SERVICE ADVISOR!

What does that mean, “Well Trained?”

It is a definition encompassing the Customer Service attributes of a Friendly Caring Attitude, Courteousness, Enthusiasm, Knowledge, Skills and Integrity. This is combined with Specific Knowledge of the Factory Warranty and Maintenance Requirements of the Specific Make of Vehicle along with Common Repair Knowledge. We complete the package with Service Advisor Sales Training conducted on an ongoing regular schedule while constantly Measuring Performance to ensure Accountability.

That is the definition of a Well Trained Service Advisor.

Here is a Scorecard you can use to see where you and your Advisors stand.
1. Are your Advisors Friendly? Yes___ No___
2. Are your Advisors Courteous? Yes___No___
3. Are your Advisors Proactive Yes___No___
4. Are your Advisors Knowledgeable? Yes___No___
5. Are your Advisors Skilled? Yes___No___
6. Do your Advisors demonstrate Integrity? Yes___No___
7. Are your Advisors Experts on the Factory Warranty? Yes___No___ (Here is a little test. Just go back to the Service Department and ask your Advisors “What is the warranty on a fuel pump or how long rust through is covered for?”)
8. Are your Advisors Trained on How to Answer the Phone? Yes___No___ (If you have a declining RO Count, the answer is No.)
9. Are your Advisors meeting Performance Objectives? Yes___No___
10. Have your Advisors had Service Advisor Sales Training? Yes___No___(If you answered No to question number 9 then chances are you answered No to question number 10)

What should be obvious to you is that if you answered Yes to questions 1-6 and No to any question numbered 7-10, your Advisors are in need of Training.

And if you want to compete with the other 5 facilities for your Customers business, my suggestion is to use this Scorecard on a regular basis and immediately Take Action whenever a Yes turns into a NO!

“Remember this, Service Advisors have the highest impact on owner retention of any employee in your dealership” says Don Reed, CEO of DealerPro Training Solutions.

You have 5 other businesses competing for your Customer. The only thing that stands in the way of them going someplace else is Your Service Advisor. Can you afford to have someone who is not Well Trained on your Service Drive? I think the answer is No.

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