J.D. Power recently released their Customer Service Index Study for 2015, and some of the findings were interesting, but not very surprising. One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s study reveals the biggest hurdle for any service department: why won’t your service advisor ask for the business?
According to the research (which surveyed 70,000 car owners of 2010-2014 vehicles), only 29% of customers say their service advisor recommended additional work, with about half of those customers completing the work. That means that 71% (the overwhelming majority) of customers were given no feedback on their vehicle other than “everything is working perfectly.”
Disregarding the 10-15% of vehicles that were brand new and within their first couple of visits back to the dealership, why would most customers receive absolutely no recommendations? This represents one of the biggest problems in the industry, and not only because it is a huge profit leak for your dealership (which it clearly is), if your service advisor is not recommending work, that probably means no one is giving the customer an honest assessment of how best to protect their investment (and potentially themselves). In other words, you are not really helping the customer! Remember, we are not talking about gouging your customer-base with unnecessary repair work—71% of service customers were offered absolutely nothing, including manufacturer-recommended maintenance. How many of those customers, especially the ones who had two- to four-year-old vehicles with tens of thousands of miles on the odometer, must have left thinking “Really?”
To think that a vehicle needs absolutely nothing done to it after driving for a couple years is crazy. Most reasonable people understand that there is a basic level of maintenance required for their vehicle and its moving parts. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a life-threatening issue—not offering means the customer wasn’t recommended wiper blades, air filters, alignments, or the dozens of other things that are needed in the first four years of driving a car. Neither the people that designed and built the car, nor the highly-skilled experts working at the dealership, had any suggestions beyond an oil change.
What is stopping advisors from consulting with the customer openly and honestly? The answer is simple: they are stopping themselves. Why? Because management lets them. By not mandating an initial consultation to review the maintenance schedule, a consistent walk-around, a technician inspection, after-service delivery, and by not effectively monitoring the service department, management gives advisors a free pass to decide how they want to handle customers. This usually means avoiding conflict and exerting as little effort as is acceptable, right? In the end, if you are not suggesting additional work 71% of the time, that means you are probably not properly servicing the customer at least 50% of the time!