Unexpected repairs are a major headache for vehicle owners. And for dealerships that don’t plan ahead, they can be a major headache for your customer retention and bottom line too.

There are several critical moments during the life of a vehicle when you’re most at risk of losing a service customer, and an unplanned repair is one of the most consequential.

When vehicle owners break down on the side of the road, get stranded in a parking lot with a car that won’t start, or see that check engine light come on, they immediately look for the most convenient way to fix the problem. 

Even if your dealership has served them well in the past, anybody that can get them back on the road quickly and easily now has a chance to steal their business. And if they have roadside assistance, they may not even have the choice to get towed to your dealership. Worse yet, if the other shop your customer goes to can impress with their service, you could wind up losing that customer forever.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. You don’t have to wait on the sidelines and hope that your customer perceives your dealership as the most convenient option when things go south. Here are seven things your dealership can start offering today to plan for the unplanned repairs of tomorrow:

Prepare for the 5 make-or-break moments that can cause service customers to start going elsewhere.

1. Dealer-Loyal Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance programs are incredibly helpful to vehicle owners when things go wrong on the road. When you offer dealer-loyal roadside assistance, you can provide customers peace of mind while ensuring that if they do ever need a tow, they’ll be brought back to your service center for a quality repair from people they already trust.

For example, when dealerships offer the roadside assistance included in DriveSure’s suite of renewable benefits, they can be confident that a customer will be towed back to them anytime the customer breaks down within 25 miles of the dealership. And with the backing of Allstate’s roadside assistance network and options to request a tow digitally or a phone call, your dealership will always be the most convenient solution for getting drivers back on the road.


2. Alternate Transportation Coverage

The kinds of repairs needed for a breakdown usually require some time to fix. If your dealership can provide alternative transportation to your customer while their vehicle is being repaired, such as a loaner vehicle, shuttle service, or ride share coverage, you’ll have a huge leg up over most aftermarket shops. The alternative transportation coverage included in our DriveSure benefits is often thought of as a small perk, but the vehicle owners that’ve benefited from it know it can make all the difference in a stressful situation.


3. Road Hazard Tire Protection

Flat tires are one of the most common unplanned issues that leave vehicle owners in a pinch. And since only 33% of dealership customers prefer to get tires repaired at a dealership rather than somewhere else, your dealership already faces an uphill battle to get these customers in to fix their flat.

Offering road hazard tire protection like what we include in the DriveSure benefits package is a great way to keep your dealership top of mind as the convenient option for all things tires. Not only will you see more customers come to you when they have a tire that needs repaired, you’ll have more opportunities to sell new tires too.


4. Service Financing

Unplanned repairs can do more than just disrupt a vehicle owner’s day. They can put major strain on their budgets too. In fact, according to a recent survey by LendingTree, 28% of drivers would not be able to cover a $500 repair without taking on debt and 58% have skipped a necessary car repair because they couldn’t afford it.

By offering service financing, you can help your customers get back on the road quickly while also helping them avoid a more costly repair in the future by ensuring problems get addressed before they grow.


5. Prepaid Maintenance / Vehicle Service Contracts

Prepaid maintenance packages are another great way to help customers manage their finances while ensuring they come back to you for service. While these don’t always cover all unplanned repairs, many prepaid maintenance programs do include some allowances for things beyond routine maintenance. Just remember that the F&I conversation isn’t your only opportunity to sell these – many dealerships have success selling them in the service lane too.


6. An Amazing Customer Experience, Every Time

Remember that vehicle owners will want to turn to the most convenient option when they’re facing an unexpected issue. If they feel that you’re easy to work with, communicative, and provide the right balance of speed and quality, your dealership is more likely to be chosen to help them in their time of need. Your service staff needs to be at the top of its game for every customer interaction to keep earning business, even from your most loyal customers.


7. A Focus on Preventative Maintenance

The best way to ensure you don’t lose a customer when they need an unplanned repair is to limit the likelihood of a breakdown in the first place. Multi-point inspections and a focus on customer education are important tools in this effort, but they only work when customers come in as often as they should. Customer retention programs designed to protect service visit frequency, like DriveSure, and effective marketing strategies can pack a powerful 1-2 punch in this effort.


Reaping the Rewards of Planning for the Unplanned (Repairs)

The right combination of these seven offerings can cement your position in your customers’ minds as the most convenient solution to their unplanned vehicle issues. They’ll be more likely to come to you for quality repairs when they need them most, ensuring that you maximize customer satisfaction, retention, and profits. We can’t think of a better win-win scenario than that.

To explore other situations most likely to cause customers to stop coming to your dealership, and for actionable advice on what to do about them, download our free guide: Avoiding Potholes in the Service Customer Journey.

Master These Moments to Keep Your Customers

Discover the 5 critical moments causing customers to abandon your dealership service department, and how you can overcome them.   

Join us for a free online event on July 28th!Battling 5 Dealership Service Defection Points with DriveSure