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Driving Profits in the Service Lane

August 2010, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Eric Wilson

These days, a passionate pursuit of every repair order opportunity is required to retain our customers and properly service their needs. Are you closing on additional work requests, or are you just lying down when the customer voices any objection?

Your goal should be to work toward a close at every opportunity. That’s the only sure way to capitalize on every revenue stream and reinforce the client retention process. It’s easier said than done, of course, so let’s take a closer look at three obstacles you’re sure to encounter along the way.

What If They Just Say ‘No’?

There’s an old saying in sales: “Call them ’til they buy or die.” I wouldn’t suggest that service advisors adopt a similar attitude, but they should certainly never be discouraged by a “No” from the customer. After all, that first objection is really where the sale begins.

Identifying objections is the key to overcoming a “No”. Something as simple as one follow-up question can separate a good advisor from a great one. Be prepared to offer a counterproposal or prioritized services the technician has recommended. Any customer would agree that safety and reliability should be among their primary concerns. That’s where preventive maintenance comes in, and it’s a natural selling tool.

With proper training and repair order preparation, there is no reason service advisors can’t close an estimate to a sale with a second or even third request for consideration. The key is to be sure that each subsequent presentation includes an enhancement of the deal. Every time you let customers leave without a needed repair, you’re giving them an opportunity to visit one of your competitors. Remember, they will have the work done somewhere, so make it easy for them to do business with you!

One of the most important aspects of selling additional service is to create the perception of need in your customers’ minds. They should feel that it is worth their time and money to have the work performed. They have already chosen your dealership as a vendor; it’s up to you to retain them. However, you must also exercise caution. You can sink the whole deal if you barrage them with too many add-ons.

The best chance to communicate the need for service lies in the preparation. Ask your advisors the following questions:

■ Are we taking the opportunity to show them the problem if they are waiting?

■ Are we utilizing available and approved technology/tools to convey information visually and electronically to the customer, such as e-mailing a digital image to their office?

■ Are we anticipating logistical considerations such as a loaner vehicle?

■ Are we truly tuned in to the “buying premise” as articulated during the initial appointment booking/write-up or in the subsequent conversation?

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