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Three Chances to Sell in Service

Steve Hall
Written By: Steve Hall
Posted on October 01, 2020

Not to overstate the obvious, but COVID has created many new challenges for dealerships. Expense reductions were one of the first steps taken by almost every dealership. The reductions seemed to hit the support personnel more severely than the productive staffing. With these changes in structure, many associates are performing duties that they did not have before the pandemic. The question that comes to mind is, are they doing the critical functions of their jobs, or are some of the most basic opportunities being overlooked? Let’s look at one portion of a service advisor’s job: How many opportunities do we get to present to a customer on a single visit to the service department?   

What I am talking about is not a tactic, but rather the opportunities to gain a sale, or additional sale, every time a customer reaches out to your service department. The way I see it, you have three opportunities with each customer, and if you are effective in all three you are probably doing very well in your total dollars per repair order and hours per repair order categories. If you aren’t effectively using all three opportunities, you are probably struggling with your sales metrics.

Here are the three categories that I am referring to:

  • Prime Item Sale – This is why the customer contacted you and wants to come in for service. It could be for an oil change that is due, a check engine light that came on, or whatever. If we don’t mess this one up, meaning let the phone go unanswered, forget to ask for the appointment, turn away a drop-in or have the online scheduler booked out too far, you should have a 100% close rate on this item. It seems as if most dealerships aren’t great at accomplishing even the most basic sales opportunity. The sticking point is that the other two selling opportunities can only happen if we first succeed in this category. If you are lucky enough not to drop the ball during this initial customer request, you get to move into the second round of selling.

  • Selling Organization – Next, you need to decide if you are a selling organization or a fix-it-and-smile organization. Let me explain. Fix-it-and-smile organizations manage to get the customer in for their prime item (customer request) but that is all they do. They never present any additional items to the customer; they just “fix it and smile.”

If you have decided to become a selling organization, you get to move into the second and third selling opportunities. Here they are. The second one is the in-lane service drive selling opportunity. Once you have greeted the customer and reviewed the prime item, do you perform a walk-around on the vehicle and present a maintenance menu to the customer using sound benefit selling techniques? Another question that you must answer is, do you even have current and relevant maintenance menus for your advisors to use for presenting? If you do, and they use them, congratulations, you now have two of the three selling opportunities in place.

  • Additional service requests - The third and final selling opportunity for service is the additional service request. These are the needed repair items that are found by the technician during the multipoint inspection process. The additional service request (ASR) can provide the most profitable selling opportunity to a service department, but you must have a great process in place that can track its sales effectiveness. Utilizing electronic multipoint inspections can provide you with a multitude of performance diagnostic information by an individual advisor and technician. Set a goal of 30% or higher initial closing on recommended items. Do not sell what is not needed, but don’t be bashful about presenting what is needed. This helps prevent unexpected breakdowns and additional trips to the dealership that could be avoided. It is a win for the customer and the dealership.

Think about this: The prime item or initial request has a 100% closing rate; it just cannot get better than that. The additional service request has the most upside sales potential for parts and labor dollars to be gained, while the menu process is the icing on the cake, adding additional sales that are highly desired scheduled maintenance jobs by any technician. 
If you perform all three of these effectively your dollars per repair order should be in good shape. If you are struggling with your transactional quality, then investigate each category and find the hidden gold that you are missing.

If you would like to learn more about the three selling opportunities in service and how to capitalize on them, contact the NCM Institute and enroll in our Principles of Service Management classes and see how much profit you can unlock.

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