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30May

Service Acquisition Efforts Should Begin with Reviews

I’ve talked in past blogs about how service departments, while the top revenue producers in most dealerships, are typically the least visible in marketing – whether that’s traditional, digital, or even on the dealership’s website.

Well, while it is important to ensure a healthy online presence for your service department, there is one key component that needs further discussion as I have not yet mentioned it very much — online review sites. It is of vital importance as they are in fact the largest consumer influencer in deciding where to service their vehicle.

Would you hire a contractor to fix your roof without checking their reviews? What about something as small as buying a new toaster? These days, most consumers search the web for information about whatever it is they are looking for to see what other people have to say about it prior to making a final decision. And that holds true in the automotive industry both in sales AND service. Yet most dealerships focus review-building efforts on the sales side, even though their service drive sees anywhere from 4 to 10 times the number of customers every day.

According to marketing agency, Vendasta, 92 percent of consumers now read online reviews – up from 88 percent in 2014. An ongoing review strategy is very important as 44 percent stated that a review must have been written within a month of their looking at it in order to be relevant!

And, perhaps even more important, 23 percent will visit the business after reading positive reviews. Imagine if close to 25 percent of all people looking to get their car serviced in your area chose you… that would make for a pretty strong customer acquisition effort, wouldn’t you agree?

Online reviews in general help your dealership’s overall reputation. By asking both sales and service customers for reviews you exponentially increase the number of reviews consumers can read. If a positive experience was had, your star rating on Google and other sites will increase, which benefits all departments in the dealership.

When it comes to vehicle service, there are three primary concerns a consumer will have: 1) Are they going to spend more than at another shop; 2) Will the experience be good; and 3) Can they trust your dealership not to upsell unnecessary repairs?

So, keep these in mind and work on these points. Cultivate positive experiences and then ask your customers to leave reviews about their service experiences. As a result, that anonymous customer seeking a place to service their vehicle will be more likely to see current reviews, trust them and bring their business to you, over a competitor.

About Confident Financial Solutions:

Confident Financial Solutions is a consumer finance company that offers auto repair financing to service centers and their customers. Its primary goal is to provide a favorable alternative to credit card financing, resulting in increased credit approvals and immediate access to capital. Customers apply online via a smart phone, tablet or computer and receive an instant credit decision. With CFS, strategic partner service centers increase activity on the service drive, increase revenue at the service center and enhance overall customer retention. Based in Boulder, Colorado, CFS is the consumer’s choice for auto repair loans.

 

Media Contact:

 Sara Callahan

Carter West Public Relations

727-288-2159

scallahan@carterwestpr.com

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3May

CFS Announces Top 5 Auto Repairs Service Customers Finance

Boulder, CO – May 3, 2017 — Confident Financial Solutions, (CFS) a consumer finance company that offers auto repair financing to service centers and their customers, today announced that the top five auto repairs service customers finance are:

  • Tires
  • Timing Belts/Water Pumps
  • Transmission or Engine Work
  • Brakes
  • Struts and Suspension Work

According to Richard Counihan, CEO of CFS, these five repairs are all expensive and not front of mind to your average vehicle owner, so it can be difficult for customers to come up with the needed cash for the repair. In fact, a recent study from the New York Fed states that one-third of Americans can’t come up with $2,000 to deal with an emergency such as a home repair, medical crisis or car accident.

“We have all experienced surprise repair estimates that are $ 2,000 or more. So, what is that customer to do when faced with an unexpected auto repair bill if they happen to be one of that 33 percent who simply cannot handle the financial burden? You could argue that they should simply use a credit card. However, thirty two percent of Americans already have high credit card debt and may not have the available credit to cover the expense,” Counihan stated.

Counihan recommends that dealers consider offering more payment options. Many dealerships simply offer the normal cash, debit or major credit card (including OEM branded ones) to their customers. There are, however, other alternatives that exist for service financing. The more options provided to the customer, the more likely they will accept the repairs based on the terms that best suit their needs. This then relieves them of any anxiety due to unexpected repair costs, and provides the dealership with the service revenue.

Counihan also suggests dealers consider printing payment options broken down into monthly payments on the multi point inspection presented to the customer, similar to car payments in the F&I Office. Dealers can also include information about service financing with service appointment confirmations and reminders. By offering service financing in this way, and aggressively marketing it to the customer at every opportunity, service centers can capture more repair work and enjoy an increase in accepted recommendations as customers now have a workable way to afford it.

“In car sales it is important to help that customer buy a car on terms that work for them, within their financial budget and constraints. It’s should be same in service — customers that are offered alternative payment methods – such as low or zero interest short-term financing – tend to perceive that offering as a helpful act by the dealership, which helps create a relationship and a loyal customer,” said Counihan.

CFS is experiencing strong growth and is now in over 1,200 retailers in 38 states, including over 400 franchised new-car dealers. The recent growth is largely due to CFS’ highly-effective service marketing integration with top vendors including Dynatron and AutoLoop, along with new technology initiatives that have taken service financing results to the next level.

While program results vary from store to store, CFS financing produces up to 100 monthly applications submitted per service center. By offering financing for service work, CFS creates an untapped revenue generator for auto service centers and helps capture work that otherwise might go elsewhere. Many CFS strategic partner service centers see an average 20 percent increase in monthly revenues; an increase in ROs and decrease in Service Declines; and bigger ticket ROs as customers can now get ALL the repairs done including transmissions, tires, collision, insurance deductible and more. In addition, the program provides affordable payments based on simple interest rather than compounding interest; about 50 percent customer approval rate; loan approvals as low as mid-500 credit scores; loan terms available for 12-36 months; and increased customer retention.

CFS provides a favorable alternative to credit card financing, resulting in increased credit approvals and immediate access to capital. The average CFS loan amount the dealership sees is about $1,500. Customers can be approved for up to $7,500 and 83% of loans approved are for amounts larger than the repair estimated, leaving room for any additional needed work. Customers apply online via a smart phone, tablet or computer and receive a credit decision in less than five minutes. Service centers get paid in 24-48 hours. With CFS, strategic partner service centers further increase activity on the service drive, increase revenue and enhance overall customer retention.

 

Dealers interested in finding out more about CFS’ auto repair financing program for service center customers can call: 720-836-1129; or visit: www.mycfsapp.com

# # # #

About Confident Financial Solutions:

 

Confident Financial Solutions is a consumer finance company that offers auto repair financing to service centers and their customers. Its primary goal is to provide a favorable alternative to credit card financing, resulting in increased credit approvals and immediate access to capital. Customers apply online via a smart phone, tablet or computer and receive an instant credit decision. With CFS, strategic partner service centers increase activity on the service drive, increase revenue at the service center and enhance overall customer retention. Based in Boulder, Colorado, CFS is the consumer’s choice for auto repair loans.

 

Media Contact:

 Sara Callahan

Carter West Public Relations

727-288-2159

scallahan@carterwestpr.com

 

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1May

The Answer to Future Service Business: Technology & Convenience

According to an article in Tire Business, it is essential for automotive service repair facilities to adopt and embrace technology. Last year was the first year Millennials outnumbered Baby Boomers and GenX in the workplace, representing 35 percent of the workforce vs. GenX at 33 percent and Baby Boomers at 29 percent, and that percentage will only increase.

Shopping on the InternetMillennials have grown up with technology that enables one-click ordering, instant access to information and just about any convenience you can imagine. They simply expect businesses to accommodate those wishes and give their loyalty to companies that do.

With five generations in the marketplace, it can be difficult for dealerships to tailor their advertising to everyone. However, a good commonality for all generations is convenience. It doesn’t matter which generation a consumer belongs to; time and convenience are important to them when choosing where to spend their money – and that’s especially true in the automotive service industry.

For instance, millennials are used to convenient payment methods including Apple and Samsung Pay. They like to be able to pay for items with their phones or watches. It is convenient, simple, and they don’t even need a wallet. Today, many consumers would rather load up their Starbucks account to pay via smartphone than open their wallets to slide a card. In fact, according to the Starbucks COO, 25 percent of all transactions at Starbucks are via mobile payment!

As technology and payment convenience become more important to consumers, those dealerships that fail to adapt and offer service customers all available payment options – cash, traditional credit, mobile payments and financing – will increasingly find consumers leaving with a less than satisfactory experience – and today it’s all about the customer experience.

Of course, payment options are only a small piece of customer convenience. It extends to every aspect of the transaction including ease of scheduling, speed of transaction, delivering the vehicle repair within the promised timeframe and the quality of work performed.

If you can master all of these things and provide a frictionless experience to your customers on THEIR terms, you should find that they appreciate your service and return. And that’s not all – they will also recommend you to others and bring family and friends. The younger generations are more in tune with the power of word-of-mouth and online reviews – they are more than willing to share their experiences with the world.

Technology exists that can decrease friction in every area of the sales and service end of the car-buying experience. Consider whether it’s better to gain the business at the convenience of the customer, or lose the business because you don’t have the technology or options in place that your customers need and demand.

 

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18Apr

The Art of Service Upselling

Ready for test drive. Handsome young car salesman giving key to smiling client to test a new luxury SUV while standing in automobile dealership

Of course, getting a customer to pay for that oil change they came in for isn’t difficult at all. However, when that same customer is presented with unexpected service recommendations found during the multi-point inspection, the degree of acceptance all of a sudden declines with the increase in repair order costs.

Many service advisors are very knowledgeable about their trade. However, they still encounter resistance from customers. They tend to be one of, if not the busiest employees in the dealership. Wearing that sales hat to upsell any needed service recommendations can be tough, purely due to the pressures of time.

Here are five suggestions that can help get results and ease some of the pressure in the art of upselling. Yes, this might add a little time into the process for a very time-starved service advisor. But, once you get the hang of it, it will not be that much time. In fact, these processes tend to lead to a FASTER process as there should be less customer upsets due to any misunderstanding, happier customers and faster approval of recommendations.

  1. Be Transparent – Many service advisors fail to get work accepted purely because the customer doesn’t understand the recommendations. What does 2/32 on a brake pad mean to the customer? Or what the heck is a ball joint or timing belt? It can sometimes seem to the customer that the advisor is speaking a foreign language. Visual presentations tend to work much better. Consider showing the customer what is wrong, either in person, or via photo or video. It’s much easier for a customer to comprehend the need for new brake pads when you can say “Mrs. Smith, here is your brake pad and here is a new brake pad. See the difference?”
  2. Give Detailed Explanations – Showing the customer what’s wrong is only part of the process. After showing the customer the brake pad, explain how the pads embrace each side of the disc and, when the customer pushes on the brake pedal, the two pads apply force to the disc which slows the vehicle down.
  3. Create Urgency – Continue by explaining why it is urgent to get the repair done. As those pads get worn the brakes get less effective and, if not replaced, can cause even more damage. Left as is, they will wear down completely and impact the disc, which would then also need replacement. This helps the customer recognize what the advisor recommends is a safety issue and that failure to repair the item could lead to more costly repairs in the future.
  4. Offer Pricing and Payment Options – The second major reason service recommendations get declined is lack of available resources to pay. Whether the customer comes right out and says they cannot afford it or not, most people turn down work because they either can’t afford it at all, or can’t afford it RIGHT NOW. By offering your customers every payment method possible, you increase the likelihood the customer will accept more work on the spot, rather than walking out the door shopping your prices, or procrastinating until their next visit.
  5. Follow up – Last, but certainly not least, follow up with all of your service customers after the visit, regardless of whether the service recommendations were completed or not. Why? The follow-up provides two opportunities: First, if the customer did accept the work and the repair was completed, you have the opportunity to check in with them on the status of their vehicle and thank them for their business. This continues the trust and rapport-building process and contributes to customer experience and loyalty. Second, if the customer declined the service, it gives you a second opportunity to check on the status of the customer’s vehicle and invite them back in for the declined service. This call will reinforce the need for and urgency of the repair, which could easily sway the customer and build trust.

Give these a try and see if your customer pay revenue increases while building trust and rapport with customers — ultimately leading to a better customer experience and well-earned loyalty.

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27Mar

How to Maximize Dollars per RO with CFS Financing

How to Maximize Dollars per RO with CFS Financing

As with any dealership vendor, maximizing the success and return-on-investment requires using the technology or service at maximum efficiency. You can have the best service or technology out there, but if it’s not used properly, it won’t perform. Imagine if you kept all your cars hidden behind your dealership. When people drive by, they simply an empty lot. That would certainly reduce your walk-in traffic because people cannot desire or be attracted to a vehicle if they can’t see it. That’s why dealers have hangtags on rearview mirrors, or offers painted on car windows — so that customers get interested.

Well, the same principal of creating interest through visibility applies to offering financing in the service department. If customers don’t know about it, they won’t take advantage of it.

 

Here are five best practices to increase service revenue through maximizing service financing opportunities in your service drive. Think of it as a health check to help improve the profitability of your service department.

  1. Marketing – The availability of service financing should be visible at every touchpoint a consumer comes across. On the Internet, be sure at the very minimum that your dealership has some clear mention on your home page and service page that you offer easy service financing. The fact that you offer financing through CFS should also be included in all print and traditional marketing, to attract customers who need repairs, but can’t afford them.

 

Financing options can be an excellent customer acquisition tool and should also be present in all service-related digital communications such as service appointment reminders. Simple awareness that financing is available will pique the interest of your customers and increase adoption, which can lead to increased average RO.

  1. In Dealership Point of Sale Awareness – While a customer may be aware that your dealership offers CFS financing, especially if the message is delivered multiple times through marketing, it may have slipped their mind when they come into the dealership for service. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that CFS financing is visible at every touchpoint in your dealership. This starts by including tear-off stands at every service advisor’s desk, as well as in the service waiting area. Posters in the waiting lobby and with stickers on the doors, windows and service advisor’s desks, can also offer excellent visibility. Also consider adding a sentence about it on the top of your multi point inspection results you present to the customer.
  2. Employee Interactions – One of the most important areas to concentrate is to ensure that all service employees who interact with customers have the proper words tracks and processes in place to offer CFS financing at every opportunity.

 

Train your staff on the basics of the program, the ease with which the customer can apply, and ensure that advisors inform customers financing is available when presenting recommended maintenance: “Get everything done today, make your first payment 30 days from now, no interest for 60-days…Here’s how to apply!” This could easily push any customer about to decline for whatever reason into accepting the full recommendations. Just as in sales — if you don’t ask for it, you probably won’t get it.

  1. Keep It Simple – The service department sees more customers per month than any sales department. Service staff are extremely busy, so adding another process into their day can seem overwhelming. That is why it’s important to keep the financing application process simple for both the service advisor and the customer. And it IS simple – just send the customer a URL and they can fill out the form in under 5 minutes. Simple things such as bookmarking CFS on every computer, ensure advisors save the password for myCFSapp.com, be sure advisors know how to upload the RO into the CFS app and, lastly, add CFS on speed dial to the scanner or fax machine, to simplify the process for them.
  2. Consider Incentives – Simply following the above four steps can increase your CFS application percentage, resulting in increased ROs and revenue – and that’s certainly something every dealer principal, general manager, or service director wants.

 

However, similar to events such as that big tire sale push when you offer service advisors spiffs for sales, you may want to consider doing something similar for service financing – to tap that competitive spirit within them. Simple spiffs such as $20 for the 1st application of the month for each advisor, or $20 per loan moving forward, can encourage advisors to be more aggressive when informing customers that financing is available.

 

For more information, or to order more CFS marketing materials call, email, or visit: http://lift.mycfsapp.com/tools/ or http://lift.mycfsapp.com/tools/pos_counter/.  

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15Feb

Effective Marketing – Don’t Forget the Service Department!

While dealers spend a lot of money on marketing, often, most of that spend is directed at the sales department. But what about service? The largest revenue source for the dealership should certainly be worthy of a decent percentage of that budget. However, sadly that’s not usually what happens.

How can service directors consistently get their message out to new customers while also staying top of mind with existing customers?

The answer for many service departments has been to include service specials as part of regular sales advertising, on their websites or, at times, through mailers. These offers are often loss leaders, designed to get a customer into the dealership for a chance to upsell them.

When that customer does come in on that $19.99 oil change coupon, and is presented with service recommendations that substantially increase the RO, I am sure you find many that decline. Frequently this is not because they don’t believe they need the repairs, but simply because they can’t afford them. What do you do with that customer then? Mostly, that money is simply left off the table and the customer walks out the door, with no way to pay for the service.

Imagine if financing didn’t exist for vehicle purchases. Chances are that very few would ever be able to own one, despite the desire to do so. The same situation applies to service repairs. I bet that a good number of your customers are declining service repairs not because they don’t want them, or think them unnecessary – but for the simple reason that they cannot afford them.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a customer declining service that really is necessary. Consider offering multiple ways for the customer to pay for service repairs. This opens the door for the customer to choose the method that works best for them. Integrate financing options into each process touchpoint: From the moment the customer sets the appointment online, to the moment the customer pulls into your service drive, train your advisors to inform customers that financing options are available to them. The customer is then primed with the knowledge and may not be quite so hasty to decline the recommendations, opting instead to explore financing as a viable option. Copy the successful practices of department stores. Whenever the customer is ready to pay for repairs, train your employees to ask whether they would like to pay with cash, check, credit card or financing. Department stores use this process for a simple reason, it works.

Many dealerships aren’t aware of just how effective multiple financing options are in decreasing service declines. While some OEMs have lines of credit available, these are typically reserved for tier one credit customers and may not be available to the majority. There are alternative financing options that extend credit to customers with less than perfect credit. Investigate and adopt those that work best for your dealership. A customer may not be able to pay a $1,500 repair bill all at once. But can probably afford $75 per month.

In this age of instant information, the single most neglected area for most dealership websites is the service department. Yet, in a 2013 Google study, “The Road to Winning Drivers: What Drivers Want in Automotive Aftermarket Service,” it was found that each month, 70 million searches on Google were for aftermarket services. And that is sure to have increased exponentially over the last couple of years.

Some dealerships have a “schedule an appointment” feature, along with current factory service specials. And, if the consumer is lucky, a few service coupons. However, other than that, most consumers have to turn to sources other than their local dealer’s website for information about their vehicle’s service needs.

This is where your competition is killing you! Look at many independent service facility websites and you will find robust information regarding the services they offer, along with some pricing for more basic maintenance services. Many offer blog articles and/or videos explaining the importance of different services as well.

Consider updating your website so that your service department presents online just as well as it does offline. Find a robust online appointment scheduling software that integrates well with your website, as well as internally in the shop. Have financing options highlighted. Feature some service specials.

And what about when you present the recommendations to the customer? This is a perfect time to include information about financing so the customer has an easy way to figure out how to pay for those repairs.

In sales advertising, low payments, low interest and low prices dominate most dealerships messaging, while service messaging is traditionally limited to low price loss-leader deals. Imagine reaching that customer that has just visited a competitor, received news that they need an $800 repair and simply can’t afford it. Then they see your dealership’s ad offering financing for repairs. Do you think that consumer might be interested?

Regardless of whether you offer financing for service, simply ensuring that service-related messaging hits your customers at every possible touchpoint can help keep your service department top-of-mind.

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23Jan

CFS Expands into Large Dealer Groups due to Wide Success with Auto Repair Financing & Service Marketing Initiatives

NADA_2017

Boulder, CO – January 23, 2017 Confident Financial Solutions, (CFS) a consumer finance company that offers auto repair financing to service centers and their customers, today announced that due to the success of its auto repair financing program, and it’s highly effective service marketing integration, it has become a top choice for large dealer groups including Larry H Miller, Berkshire Hathaway (formerly Van Tuyl), Group1 and Rick Case. The company is experiencing strong growth and is now in about 1,100 retailers in 38 states, including over 400 franchised new-car dealers.

According to Richard Counihan, CEO of CFS, the recent growth is largely due to CFS’ highly-effective service marketing integration with top vendors including Dynatron and AutoLoop, along with new technology initiatives that have taken service financing results to the next level. “We ensure that service financing is offered to customers at every possible opportunity. When the multi-point inspection is presented, it can now include information about how the repair could be more affordable by breaking cost into monthly payments. In some cases we can even show monthly payment options, similar to car payments in the F&I Office, as well as offer 60-day interest-free option.” said Counihan. “Our dealers can also include information about service financing with service appointment confirmations and reminders. By offering service financing in this way, and cleverly marketing it to the customer at every opportunity, our service centers are capturing more repair work and enjoying an increase in accepted recommendations as customers now have a workable way to afford it,” Counihan added.

While program results vary from store to store, CFS financing produces up to 100 monthly applications submitted per service center. By offering financing for service work, CFS creates an untapped revenue generator for auto service centers and helps capture work that otherwise might go elsewhere. Many CFS strategic partner service centers see an average 20 percent increase in monthly revenues; an increase in ROs and decrease in Service Declines; and bigger ticket ROs as customers can now get ALL the repairs done including transmissions, tires, collision, insurance deductible and more. In addition, the program provides affordable payments based on simple interest rather than compounding interest; almost 50 percent customer approval rate; loan approvals as low as mid-500 credit scores; loan terms available for 12-36 months; and increased customer retention.

CFS provides a favorable alternative to credit card financing, resulting in increased credit approvals and immediate access to capital. The average CFS loan amount the dealership sees is about $1,500. Customers can be approved for up to $7,500 and 83% of loans approved are for amounts larger than the repair estimated, leaving room for any additional needed work. Customers apply online via a smart phone, tablet or computer and receive a credit decision in less than five minutes. Service centers get paid in 24-48 hours. With CFS, strategic partner service centers further increase activity on the service drive, increase revenue and enhance overall customer retention.

 

Dealers interested in finding out more about CFS’ auto repair financing program for service center customers can visit booth #3716 at the 2017 NADA Convention & Exposition in New Orleans, LA, January 27-29, 2017; call: 720-836-1129; or visit: www.mycfsapp.com

 

# # # #

About Confident Financial Solutions:

Confident Financial Solutions is a consumer finance company that offers auto repair financing to service centers and their customers. Its primary goal is to provide a favorable alternative to credit card financing, resulting in increased credit approvals and immediate access to capital. Customers apply online via a smart phone, tablet or computer and receive an instant credit decision. With CFS, strategic partner service centers increase activity on the service drive, increase revenue at the service center and enhance overall customer retention. Based in Boulder, Colorado, CFS is the consumer’s choice for auto repair loans.

 

Media Contact:

Sara Callahan

Carter West Public Relations

727-288-2159

scallahan@carterwestpr.com

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17Jan

With Rise in Automotive Service Costs Consumers Turn to Financing

Vehicles are increasingly more sophisticated and technology-dependent. Repairs are no longer a simple process of removing a bolt or twisting a wrench, but now include complicated programming into vehicle electrical systems.

Repair order costs have thus increased causing many consumers to delay the repair or use some sort of financing option. As a result, many manufacturers recently introduced branded credit cards for consumer use when confronted with a high repair bill.

However, a challenge many service customers encounter if they wish to take advantage of manufacturer branded credit cards is that they are no different to traditional credit cards. Most are subject to the same credit requirements. Banks such as Chase, Citibank and others, are the credit issuers and typically have a higher standard for approvals. This translates into customers struggling to get approval, which is detrimental to the service department. One would assume that if a customer is presented with a large repair order, and applies for credit to pay for it, they plan to accept the recommended services. If that credit isn’t approved, or that approval is delayed, dealerships may end up seeing that customer walk out the door and declining the recommendations as they simply cannot afford to pay.

At CFS, because we specialize in automotive repair financing, it is an easier process for many consumers to gain approval for their service financing. Our credit approval process factors in customers at multiple tiers, rather than just those with excellent credit. This means more approved customers and more fulfilled repair orders.

Most consumers want to keep their car maintained properly and any objection they have when presented with an unexpected repair bill usually has more to do with available finances, rather than any unwillingness or lack of desire to have the repairs completed.

With CFS financing you can provide your customers with a valuable and convenient way for them to get their vehicle back on the road. And that results in increased service revenue and happier customers. A win-win!

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17Jan

Training Is a Service Department’s Best Friend

9:00Am, Boulder, CO.

There are a lot of choices for consumers as far as where to take their vehicle for maintenance. And, while consumers are required to visit franchise dealerships for warranty and recall work, the majority of service revenue lies in regular maintenance. That is why a great and consistent customer experience is so important each and every visit. These days your dealership has to stay top of mind with your customers – and keep them happy.

I just read an interesting blog on the consumer site techfeatured.com, which reports that many service advisors are ill-equipped to advise consumers on what’s best for their vehicle. With a claimed (according to the blog) 80 percent turnover in advisors, the blog tells the story of a customer that visited a Honda dealership for their first oil change at 7,500 miles. The customer requested the tires be rotated since, per the manufacturer, that would be due at 10,000 miles, yet he wouldn’t need to come back for the next service until 15,000 miles. The service advisor simply brushed it off, telling the customer it was too early to rotate the tires. This caused the customer to become frustrated as he was simply trying to ensure that he maintained his vehicle per the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance.

It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong, really. Perhaps the vehicle could go 7,500 more miles without a tire rotation – 5,000 more than the manufacturer recommended. And it probably could for a vehicle that new. The failure here resides in the service advisor’s inability to advise and communicate with the customer in a way that made the customer feel understood. The customer needed to be able to trust what the service advisor had to offer in terms of advice. By brushing the customer off, it simply left the customer confused and, potentially, untrusting of the advisor and, by default, the dealership.

Hey, I know that a service advisor has one of the busiest jobs on the planet and it is tough managing the time they can take with each customer. However, it would not have taken much time to simply explain tire tread along with wear and tear, visually inspect the tires and educate the customer.

The customer should be able to explain their vehicle’s problems in layman’s terms and the advisor should be able to know the questions to ask to get the “who, what, where and when” information out of the customer to properly document the repair order for the technician.

Can all of your advisors do that? Consider doing a mystery shop to see how your advisors do. And they perhaps some training is in order.

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21Nov

Anticipation Is Not What’s Making Them Wait – It’s Inefficiency!

The audience listens to the acting in a conference hall. Focus is under the man on the front ground

The audience listens to the acting in a conference hall. Focus is under the man on the front ground

Recently I’ve seen several blogs and articles about the customer experience and an article in Automotive News really caught my attention and sparked my interest. It is all about how seven minutes is far too long for a service customer to wait before they are even acknowledged.

 

Seven minutes doesn’t seem like a long time. But when you think about it from a customer’s perspective, standing there totally ignored while waiting to be assisted — those seven minutes could seem like forever!

 

According to the article, Lee Certilman, owner of Nardy Honda Smithtown in St James, N.Y., has a pet peeve: waiting in line. As he walked his service department, he noticed customers waiting to be helped by service advisors with no other customers in front of them. Turns out they were finishing up paperwork from the previous customer. Certilman noticed this several times and so felt he had to do something to handle the situation. He used his security cameras to gather information and discovered that this was not an anomaly. In fact he saw one customer waiting for seven long minutes, so he decided to come up with a remedy.

The dealership sells 3,000 units per year and enjoys a CSI score of 93 to 98 percent. The high volume and CSI scores show that the dealership is doing something right. As one of the top three Honda dealers in the district, Certilman is proud of his customer service. However, he realized something needed to change as it was obvious some customers were forced to wait too long and as a result were receiving a less than excellent experience.

 

But what could he do to illustrate to the service advisors, cashiers, and other front-line employees exactly how long seven minutes FEELS to a customer?

He had them sit in front of him, in silence, for seven minutes without speaking.

According to Certilman, it hit home for his service advisors.

Customer experience is about more than just providing great amenities. Don’t forget the importance of the human element. To today’s busy consumers, in many cases, amenities may actually be secondary to the service experience itself– the helpfulness, attentiveness and feeling of welcome they receive upon arrival. Today, speed and efficiency are vital to a good customer experience.

This high-volume dealer is very likely servicing more cars per month than he sells in a year. Consumers already think BUYING a car takes too long. How do you think they will feel if they find dropping their car off for service takes too long as well?

Many excellent technologies and services exist that can help improve the customer experience and expedite service lane efficiency. From scheduling, to the customer welcome, to the vehicle walk around and inspections, to customer interaction and presentation of recommendations, simple process analysis and change can make a huge difference.

All we’re talking about here is seven minutes. And that’s not even seven minutes to complete the transaction — but seven minutes waiting to be acknowledged. Ensuring that your service advisors quickly and efficiently acknowledge and welcome a customer can make a huge difference. It’s a simple thing to do and does not need some huge process change.

That Keurig. Those free pastries. That car wash. They mean nothing if the customer has to wait too long for their presence to be recognized.

 

Consider taking the time to analyze what’s going on in your service department. If it means sitting your advisors in front of you for seven minutes of silence in order for them to get it, that seven minutes could be worth more than any investment in a dealership movie theater, Starbucks, or other amenity.

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