DealerRater recently polled over 16,000 new car buyers on behalf of Fixed Ops Journal. The question was straightforward:
"The last time you bought a car or truck at a dealership, did the salesperson introduce you to the service department when the vehicle was delivered?”
And because dealerships across the United States know the value in the sales-to-service introduction, the responses were almost unanimously “YES”… right?
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. In fact, the survey respondents revealed a continuous pain point for dealers, and one that is inexcusable in the industry today.
Outright, one in four new car sales customers said they weren’t introduced to the service team when they received delivery of their new car. Their salesperson or the delivery coordinator likely sat with them in their new vehicle, set up their Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay, helped them set the seat memory and mirrors, and sent them out the door with the plea, “Don’t forget to give me five stars on the sales survey!”
No introduction to the service department. It suggests the dealership tour was neglected as well.
The silver lining is that more than four in ten new car buyers were introduced to the team that will service their vehicle after the sale. When the shine wears off the sale and it becomes a routine mode of transportation, two in five customers will they’ll know where they can turn for their maintenance, warranty repairs, and after-sales accessory purchases.
How unremarkable does the delivery process have to be for a customer to not recall whether they were introduced to the service department? Did they forget the massive overhead doors, the hearty, grin-accompanied handshake from one of the service advisors, and the bustle of the service drive? Yet, an astounding one in three new car buyers can’t recall if the sales-to-service handoff was part of their delivery process.
It seems that there’s a huge opportunity for improvement in the sales-to-service handoff process, as well as its enforcement. As a reminder, these are a few of its benefits.
Relationships are what drive customer loyalty. The service department is a customer’s connection to your store after the sale. Without that point of connection every few months, or at least annually, there’s an extremely high possibility they’ll defect to another dealership for their next vehicle purchase.
In the meantime, the revenue generated by the service department between vehicle purchases is typically much higher than the sales revenue (unless you hit a homerun on the deal). And besides the actual dollars and cents that keep the doors open and the lights on, the service revenue helps keep service advisors, technicians, lot attendants, cashiers, managers, and parts people employed. There’s an unspoken responsibility that front-end staff have to the rest of their colleagues that centers around the sales-to-service handoff.
The customer takes delivery (absent the handoff) and drives away. At their first service or repair, they’re unsure how to deal with the appointment and where to go when they arrive. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at delivery, but it opens the door for a negative visit the next time.
But if the customer is confident when it’s time for the first service and knows what to do and who to see, it reinforces their bond with the dealership and their salesperson.
We all know the result of a strong customer-salesperson bond: referrals. Even if the referrals aren’t volunteered, it opens the door for the salesperson to ask for referrals. That same opportunity doesn’t exist if the customer has a less-than-stellar experience.
Sales and service managers, if it’s been a while since your team has reviewed the expectations at delivery, do it soon. Role play the sales-to-service handoff to make sure everyone knows how to do it well.