By: Tim Clay
Service customers frequently decline some, or all the recommended services, which can be very frustrating to advisors. While it shouldn’t be a service advisor’s job to “find” things to recommend, it’s certainly their job to notify and counsel customers about any areas identified by a multi-point inspection that needs to be addressed. However, with the huge amount of money that is left on the table in service departments everywhere, we could certainly be doing a better job of handling these service declines.
In my experience, working with hundreds of service departments over the years, I have found three key reasons customers decline service and some simple handlings that can help, as follows:
- 1. Trust: Poor consumer perception continues to be a problem at dealerships, justified or not. A high percentage of consumers believe recommendations are simply the dealer (or repair shop) trying to sell them services or products they don’t really need.
Perhaps this is due to a lack of knowledge, or perhaps it’s a simple matter of believing old media reports and thus a poor perception. To overcome this, it helps to go above and beyond in your explanations of any needed service. Simply telling the customer isn’t always enough. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Seeing is believing.” Well, this applies to your service customers. Show the customer what is wrong with pictures or videos. You can easily do this with most smartphones and can then explain and show the customer so they can see it with their own eyes with a simple, “This is what yours looks like. And this is what it should look like.”
In addition, consider doing short videos that explain key repairs and Frequently Asked Questions and post them on your website. This type of content is also great for SEO. A 2013 Google study found that each month, 70 million searches on Google are for aftermarket services. Drivers are also looking online for help on changing oil filters and brake fluid, as well as fixing fuel pumps, and this will only have grown over the past few years.
And, as the study states that 43 percent of drivers perform a search online or on a smartphone when considering where to service their vehicle, it’s more important than ever to connect with drivers whenever and wherever they are searching for their next service.
- 2. Too Expensive: Many customers believe your prices are too high. They could trust you, and understand that they need the services, but are unsure of your pricing, want to price shop the services, or leave to get help from a relative or friend.
The perception that franchised dealer service is more expensive than independents is commonplace, yet there are many benefits for consumers in having their vehicle serviced at a dealership. Service advisors would be wise to have some way to prove value and that your prices are fair. Work out your service department value propositions: OEM parts, technicians trained by the OEM, etc. Some dealerships even take service pricing transparency to the next level and shop the competition for the customer and publish it on their website. Here’s an example:
This transparency certainly helps build consumer trust and could potentially handle any need or desire for the customer to decline simply because they want to shop prices. Note that this chart also clearly lists the dealer’s value propositions and benefits. It clearly illustrates why servicing the vehicle there is the right choice.
- 3. Financing and Payment Options: The customer may trust you and believe your price is fair, but simply doesn’t have the money to pay for the services. While it may seem to be the one objection that can’t be overcome, it can actually be the EASIEST of the three to handle. How? Ensure that every way a customer COULD choose to pay is available to them.
Whether that means cash, traditional credit cards, checks, service financing or Apple and Samsung Pay, the point is to provide your customers with every possible payment option. After all, today it is all about the customer experience, right?
A simple example would be if your dealership doesn’t take American Express, Diner Club or Discover. Perhaps those are the only methods of payment the customer likes to use or has available to pay for the repairs.
In addition, service-financing that breaks the amount down into affordable monthly payments, or perhaps offers 60-days interest-free, can be attractive to a customer who doesn’t want to max out their credit cards, or who lacks available credit.
The above three points do not take much to implement. Service advisors can quickly be trained to handle these situations effectively if you provide them with the resources and tools to do so. As a result, you should see happier customers, decreasing service declines and increasing service revenue.
Bio: Tim Clay has more than twenty years experience in the automotive retail space and is a graduate of NADA Dealer Candidate Academy. Previously, he was COO and Co-Founder of ClickMotive, an automotive technology company. He has instrumented one successful automotive startup exit and one successful medical company exit.