Major Road to Car Dealership Vehicle Sales: After-Sales Service

The path to healthy vehicle sales at an auto dealership is through customer-centric after-sales service.

That’s because 70% of a dealership’s loyal customers are the most likely to buy their next car there, according to Gary Marcotte, senior vice president of marketing firm Outsell.

“Good after-sales service is the reason customers buy from a particular store,” he said in a CXAUTO2021 online conference session titled “Driving Loyal Customers and Connecting Car Sales new to an exceptional customer experience ”.

After-sales service – particularly involving vehicle maintenance and repairs – “is the cornerstone of how we maintain our customers,” says John Vierheller, director of growth at Epsilon Automotive, a consulting firm. concession. “It is imperative that we do things right. It is not a difficult proposition as much as it is a commitment.

It’s also a kind of hub for dealerships, says Marcotte, former head of marketing at AutoNation, the country’s largest dealer chain. In the past, well-managed after-sales services focused on operational efficiency, “but they weren’t necessarily customer-centric.” Today’s progressive dealerships focus on both efficiency and customer experience.

The Niello Co., a nine-brand dealer group based in the Sacramento, Calif., Area, trains its employees in customer retention, said Tully Williams, director of fixed operations for the company.

“We have people in the service tracks who care,” he says. “It’s what keeps customers in after-sales service forever. It starts with the dealership believing culture is important and employees are # 1. We are in the people’s business.

Guillaume (photo, left) believes in adhering to an established process that improves repeat and referral business. “It drives me crazy when processes slip because we all know they work. “

Niello service advisers are empowered to make decisions on their own to avoid situations in which they say, “Let me talk to my manager,” often a disturbed customer, he says. “If a service job takes longer than expected, the employee would say, ‘Can I lend you or drop the car off at your place when we’re done? “” (The latter offer also involves transporting the customer home in the first place.)

Empowered employees can make questionable decisions, but that’s part of accountability and can be resolved later, says Scott Gregg, director of fixed operations at Tucson Subaru. “They might be wrong, but we can find out later.”

Gregg (photo, bottom left) is a 42-year-old automotive veteran who started pumping gasoline and changing oil at a gas station. He once ran his own auto repair shop. He has been with Tucson Subaru for the past five years, striving to create a positive work environment.

“A culture that encourages happy employees creates happy customers,” he says. “That’s the trick. You want to put service customers at ease, because nobody really likes to come to the after-sales service. “

Eddie Rios, Infiniti’s customer service manager in the eastern US, agrees.

“I don’t know anyone who wants to spend four hours on a Saturday at a dealership having their car serviced,” he said at another CXAUTO conference session.

The hours of operation for after-sales service should match the lifestyle of customers, says Rios, who started out as a technician.

Scott Gregg (002) .png “Techs usually start at 8:00 am and leave at 5:00 pm,” says Rios. “It doesn’t help if someone comes at 5 pm for an oil change. “Try to stagger the technicians’ hours. Have a peak hour coverage plan. Be there for customers when they need you.

He also recommends keeping a clean store. “You want to make sure the back of the dealership looks as good as the front. “

Much like other dealerships, 60% of Tucson Subaru’s profits come from after-sales service, says Gregg. The showroom records the first sale involving the vehicle itself, but after that “the after-sales service sells the rest”.

Niello owns the oldest Audi dealership in the United States. Audi are among the most technically advanced vehicles. As a result, when it comes to fixing them, the automaker’s support is essential, Williams says.

Audi supports the service departments of its dealers, says Robert Lecznar, senior director of service operations at Audi of America.

Advanced video streaming allows company technical experts to connect with dealer service technicians to get vehicles fixed quickly and correctly the first time.

“We built them and we know the technology,” says Lecznar. “Using digital communications is like being there with the technicians.

Steve Finlay is a retired editor of WardsAuto. He can be contacted at [email protected].