If you’re looking to sell more cars – and who isn’t? – there is a potential treasure trove of leads just a few feet away in your service department. In fact, when you consider that the average size dealership is spending an average of a half million dollars annually to drive traffic to their dealership…that there are customers already on site every day getting service is a skipped step and possibly a lot of saved marketing dollars.
But how can you leverage your service department’s traffic into more car sales without coming across as sneaky or without it feeling like a bait-and-switch to someone who’s just there for an oil change?
For starters, you don’t want to try to turn every service customer into a sale. Target those in the best position to “flip”. You’ve likely got a whole array of sales and customer data available to you – data that tells you, for instance, how close a prospect’s car is to lease end or warranty end. These prospects would be the ideal customers to target with service-related automotive direct mail ads, encouraging them to take advantage of deals relating to their current position. Lessees nearing the end of their term could be sent an automotive direct mailer with a discount on detailing to help ensure they return the vehicle in ideal condition. Owners nearing the end of their 10 year/100,000 mile warranties could be sent warranty check-up automotive direct mailers, to ensure their coverage ends with their vehicle in tip-top condition. Prospects that take you up on these offers could be easier to convince to upgrade, either with a lease buy-out or a warrantied vehicle.
Another way many dealerships use their service department to drive more sales is with the loaner vehicle. This is where sales and service can join forces for the greater good of the company. Let’s say a customer is going to need to leave their vehicle for a large repair. The service department can call upon the sales department to consult and find a newer vehicle that aligns with that customer’s wants and needs. It could turn out that the new vehicle turns them on so much that they’ll be compelled to buy it. In fact, customers who seem excited about the loaner can also be presented with leasing or financing options immediately when they turn the vehicle in. This is yet another way to turn data you already have on the customer into potential sales.
Dealerships looking to transition service customers into lease and finance customers can also perform complimentary appraisals of vehicles with every service appointment. Similar to credit card companies now offering complimentary credit scores with each statement, these “free” appraisals could compel the customer to strike while the iron is still hot – especially as they see the value of their vehicles steadily trending downwards with each service visit.