For dealerships that want to increase service retention, at least two methods have proven reliable: understanding your customers better than your competitors and providing value your competitors aren’t.
When it comes to knowing more than the competition, the 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report has unveiled some eye-opening data that can significantly impact how dealerships approach customer retention, from messaging preferences and appointment reminders to which services keep customers coming back. Covering perspectives from 1,380 vehicle owners who frequent dealerships for at least some of their service needs, the report delves into consumer preferences and behaviors.
Part of this involves new insight about what you can offer your customers that competitors currently don’t: prepaid maintenance plans designed for and sold in the service lane.
What the data says about prepaid packages
One of the standout findings from the report is the untapped potential of prepaid maintenance (PPM) plans. While most dealerships offer these plans through their Finance and Insurance (F&I) departments, our research suggests a significant opportunity to sell PPM packages well after the vehicle sale.
A staggering 78% of customers indicated they would likely purchase a PPM package if the right discount were offered. Specifically, a 20% discount would satisfy 42% of customers, and 36% would require a discount greater than 20%.
These findings are clear: prepaid maintenance packages offer another opportunity for dealerships to drive revenue and return visits. Dealerships owe it to themselves to stop restricting the PPM conversation to the F&I office and capitalize on this opportunity.
What’s more, value-added services like free tire rotations or emergency roadside assistance are enough to make customers even more likely to buy a prepaid package.
What keeps customers coming back to your dealership in 2023?
Insights from Nearly 1,500 Dealership Customers
Why do prepaid maintenance plans increase retention so well?
PPMs are highly effective in increasing customer retention for several reasons:
PPMs offer a hassle-free experience for customers. Knowing that services are already paid for eliminates the need for payment discussions at each visit, streamlining the process and making it more convenient for the customer.
Of course, customers are more likely to return to a dealership where they have already invested money in a PPM. The upfront payment acts as a financial commitment, making customers more inclined to utilize the services they’ve already paid for, thereby increasing the likelihood of repeat visits.
Trust and relationship building
Regularly scheduled maintenance visits provide an opportunity for the dealership to build a relationship with the customer. This trust often translates into customer loyalty, as people are more likely to return to a service provider they know and trust.
Catching small issues early
Regular on-time maintenance due to a PPM allow the service department to catch small issues before they turn into major problems. This proactive approach not only saves the customer money in the long run but also enhances their satisfaction and trust in the dealership’s services.
More chance to provide memorable value-added services
PPM purchases (and even redemptions) can come with additional perks like free tire rotations, cabin air filter replacements, or roadside assistance. These value-added services make the customer feel they are getting more bang for their buck, increasing their overall satisfaction and likelihood to return.
How to implement an effective prepaid maintenance package in the service lane
How do you establish a PPM program to effectively retain customers? Setting up a PPM program on your own has quite a few steps, which is why we created a checklist to get you started.
Prepaid maintenance packages aren’t just for F&I. Discover how to sell them well in the service lane too!
However, to make sure your customers are tempted to buy it, here are a few things you should bear in mind when designing your PPM package.
- Shorter duration: A good service department prepaid maintenance package should only include 3-4 services and be valid for no more than 18-24 months.
- Simpler offerings: Make the offer accessible to as broad a customer base as possible: include oil changes, tire rotations, and any commonalities that any of your models have. Avoid trying to customize the plan for different models and years of vehicles as it can quickly overcomplicate things.
- Sweeter deals: Offer a more competitive price (customers need a financial incentive to prepay their oil changes in bulk).
Managing a PPM program doesn’t have to be a hassle
Dealerships sometimes avoid offering these packages because they’re worried the package might be hard to sell, or hard to manage. Luckily they’re not hard to sell, as the earlier data shows: customers are happy to buy prepaid packages, especially with a good price, simple offerings, or a tempting value-added service tacked on.
But managing the program can be simplified too. DriveSure can help you design a PPM program, set the right pricing, and handle administrative tasks like tracking enrollments and sending contracts. This ensures that package sales and redemptions won’t become a hassle for your team.
Get the report: the latest insights in dealership service retention
Want to keep your customers coming back for service? Learn more about customer preferences for value-added services and much more, in the 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report.
What keeps customers coming back to your dealership?
Download the 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report to see what dealership service customers have to say.