The sales-to-service handoff is a key moment in the customer retention cycle and should be a primary focus in your sales process. If your sales customers do not leave with a good idea that they will come back for at least their first service, you have likely lost them forever (or until they are ready to buy another vehicle). But how many of these customers could be retained by simply adding a ten-minute service introduction to the delivery process? They have plenty of free time and would be more than happy to do something that doesn’t involve another sales presentation. If you pass on this simple step, your service traffic may be gobbled up by one of many non-dealer service providers.
Here are some tips for implementing or improving your sales-to-service handoff:
- Salespeople should understand the importance of converting a sales customer into a service customer, not only for their paycheck but for the health of the dealership. If you are having a hard time convincing your team of this, you probably have the wrong team in place.
- You must hold your salespeople accountable for implementing the sales-to-service handoff with every single one of their customers, even if they have bought from you before (they may learn something new). The best way to do this is to have a worksheet that both the salesperson and service representative sign off on at the time the handoff is completed. If this completed worksheet is not in the delivery folder, the salesperson gets their commission docked. You only need to withhold commission once before everyone gets on board.
- Use a signal so that everyone in the store knows that the customer is in the delivery process. For example, have the salesperson carry a red clipboard during the delivery; then everyone at the store is prepared for the customer and knows to treat them accordingly.
- Tour your facilities, assuming they are worth touring. Nothing builds value in the consumer’s mind like your own team being proud of their offerings.
- Make sure to get current and preferred contact information. Offer to communicate via every conceivable method (phone, email, text, Facebook, Instagram, smoke signals ...) and make sure you respect their preferences.
- Introduce the customer to the maintenance schedule. What better opportunity to sell them on the importance of following it closely to protect themselves and their investment!
- Prepare the customer for your service processes (i.e. what will happen each time they come in). If you set their expectations and provide value for your walkarounds, technician inspections, etc., they will be much more receptive when they return.
- Provide a gift from the service department, such as a bottle of touch up paint or some dealership swag. This is also a great time to give away the first oil change to ensure you at least get one shot at wowing the customer before they go to their local lube shop.
- Live up to your promises. If you sell yourself as the best service center in town, you’d better offer the best service in town. Assuming you have done a proper sales-to-service handoff and the customer comes back, you only get one shot to turn them into a regular service customer. Have policies and procedures in place every step of the way to ensure their satisfaction!
This process will only become more and more important as vehicles become more complex and non-dealer competition becomes more entrenched in the market. If you want to grow your service business, stop trying to drag in new customers with rock bottom prices and unattainable promises. Instead, work to take care of your own customer base and build your reputation by providing top notch customer care and convenience.