This article was originally posted to DrivingSales.com

Snacks. Coffee. WiFi.

It seems these are staples for most dealership service department waiting areas. But are those the amenities that keep your customers loyal to your service department? Probably not.

Are they convenient and nice to have? Yes, but it’s what you offer beyond the basics that can really influence customer retention and satisfaction.

In an effort to help you determine what your customers are looking for, we asked our 2020 Service Retention Report respondents which amenities at their dealership they value most.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway was how varied the responses were. There were some clear winners, but there’s definitely not a silver bullet when it comes to service amenities. Keep reading to see which amenities are in high demand and where dealerships might be falling behind consumer preferences.

Which Amenities Do Service Customers Prefer?

We asked nearly 2,000 dealership service customers from across the country to identify the three amenities that are most valuable to them from a list of 12 common (and not-so-common) offerings. Here’s how they responded:

  1. Online appointment booking
  2. Free road hazard tire repair/replacement
  3. Free renewable roadside assistance
  4. Vehicle pickup/delivery
  5. Shuttle service
  6. Rewards program
  7. Late-night hours (open after 6pm)
  8. Free Wi-Fi in waiting area
  9. Sunday hours
  10. Snacks/drinks in waiting area
  11. Dog-friendly waiting areas
  12. Referral program

Like the offerings themselves, their preferences varied widely. The top eight amenities are preferred by nearly a quarter of recipients or more. However, no single amenity is identified by more than half the participants as one of their three most valued.

What does that mean for dealerships? How can we meet customer expectations when preferences are so varied?

In short, this shows us that dealerships that offer a wide variety of amenities are likely delivering better experiences for their customers (vs. those that only offer a select few). We know that you might not be able to offer everything, so we took a deeper dive into this data to uncover some of your best opportunities for pleasing your customers.

Where Should You Spend Your Amenity Budget?

When we compare the list of dealership service customer preferences to the amenities that dealerships actually offer them, we can begin to see some opportunities. We discuss those below and how we think you might best benefit from them in your dealership.

Dealership service amenities preferred

Dealership service amenities offered

 

  • Wi-Fi and snacks are offered most often, but aren’t necessarily considered a high-value amenity to customers. As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, having free beverages and internet are now basic expectations for anyone who brings a vehicle into your service department rather than valuable differentiators. Luckily, these amenities are easy to implement.
  • Customers like the convenience of online appointment booking. Nearly 45% of our survey respondents place it in their top three most valued amenities. Dealerships seem to have already picked up on this preference as about 75% of our participants told us their dealership offered it.If your dealership isn’t offering it yet, the time has come to start. There’s a wide variety of technology available, like Setmore Appointments or TimeTap, which have platforms built specifically for the automotive service industry.
  • Vehicle pickup/delivery is preferred over shuttles for all age groups except those 55+. For that age group, shuttle services were valued slightly higher.At the time of our survey, not many dealerships seemed to be offering pickup or delivery. However, with COVID-19 restrictions and concerns regarding public health becoming top-priority for customers, we’re seeing it pop up more and more in recent months.Because it is so highly valued among our respondents, we recommend that dealerships continue their pickup and delivery services indefinitely.

Preferences for shuttle service and vehicle pickup and delivery by age group

 

  • Free road hazard tire repair/replacement and free renewable roadside assistance are the second and third most valued amenities. It might seem challenging to find a way to offer these benefits to your customers, but both are included with every DriveSure activation and renewal. These are also the kinds of benefits that make it easy for dealerships to encourage loyalty and bring customers back to their dealership for other services or unplanned repairs.

Bringing It Into the Real World

Some dealerships have it all (like these), but if you don’t have the budget to offer golf simulators and salon services, here’s where we recommend you should start:

  1. Cover the basics with free Wi-Fi and snacks. Despite not being the most valued, we still recommend having your bases covered. Try partnering with a local company or two to stock the products that people love most to help differentiate your waiting room.
  2. Play up the convenience factor with online booking and drop off/pick up. These are the amenities that service customers value most. If you don’t offer them, it’s possible you might start losing your customers to somewhere that does. Plus, you want to make it as easy as possible to make an appointment with your dealership and these offerings lower that bar considerably.
  3. Provide value-added perks like free renewable roadside assistance and tire coverage with every oil change or scheduled maintenance service. It’s benefits like these that will truly differentiate your dealership from the competition and keep your customers coming back again and again.

Learn more about what your customers are looking for in our 2020 Dealership Service Retention Report.

 

The 2020 Dealership Service Retention Report

INSIGHTS FROM NEARLY 2,000 DEALERSHIP CUSTOMERS

Learn why customers choose to return to their dealership for service and why they don’t. Plus, we reveal your biggest opportunities for encouraging customer loyalty.

The 2020 Service Retention Report Is Here!See what nearly 2,000 service customers said about why they return, why they don't, and what dealerships can do about it.
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