We have reviewed how to buy the cars you need and how to make the ones you have saleable. Now, I think the next topic we need to talk about is post-sale retention. A lot of times we can’t or don’t want to see the forest for the trees. We get caught up in trying to do what we think will work instead of taking a step back. With so many programs, systems, and processes in place, it can be a bit much. All of the programs are great, but what it all comes down to is one thing: people.
When we are trying to get a person to come back to our dealership, it could be as simple as smiling and saying, “Hi”. If you have read my prior articles, you may see a trend. Let me explain something I observed the other day at a dealership. I was in the service drive watching people get checked in and it made me cringe. When I look at customer service departments, I try to put myself in the shoes of that customer. During this particular day, I noticed customers standing around with no idea who is going to help them. When it became their turn, I observed at least two people being helped first because the service advisor was unaware of who was next.
Think about when you go out to eat and you have been sitting at your table for 5 minutes without being acknowledged by a server. That 5 minutes seems like forever when all they need to do is acknowledge that they will be right with you. We are asking people to take valuable time out of their day to come to our dealership. With that, we need to respect their time.
So, let’s look at the experience I witnessed and what could have worked better:
- I think the WHOLE process can be improved with better expectations and communication. Let’s start with the porter that is doing check-in. Have them stop, smile, and greet the customer. I think Starbucks is really good at this. I had a 5-minute conversation the other day just because I was asked what I had planned for the day. We get caught up in our routine of scanning the VIN, checking the miles, and looking for damage that we often miss that simple, yet impactful step.
- After we greet the person, let’s explain what we are doing and why. This particular dealership has an iPad to check people in. What does that iPad do? How do they benefit the customer? Let’s use the word of the decade…transparency. People like it and we often forget about it. The more you engage that customer, the easier it will be for them to let their guard down.
- After we explain the check-in process, we need to explain what the next steps are. I was so uncomfortable seeing multiple people standing around not knowing what is going on with their check-in process. I would have the service advisor assigned, then have the porter walk in to acknowledge the customer. They will then know who they are waiting for.
- Lastly, make sure you follow up with customers with any changes to their vehicles. No one likes not knowing what is going on with one of their most valued possessions. Keep them in the know.
I know these are some remedial tasks that we already know, but sometimes we forget the simple things. That smile you give could change everything. Give it a try.