There’s a rarely-discussed reason that can cause even your most loyal customers to start going somewhere other than your dealership for service.

Often, when a vehicle breaks down, the owner’s roadside assistance provider will take them to the nearest service provider or to one that the tow service is associated with. This can result in lost revenue for your dealership — not only for that repair but also for future services if the customer ends up continuing to go to the other service center.

Understanding the thought processes behind this occurrence and developing strategies to address it can help you keep or woo back those loyal customers.


Why Do Loyal Customers Go Elsewhere for Breakdown Service?

In spite of the great relationship you might have with your loyal customers, they might not always have a choice when it comes to where their vehicle gets emergency repairs. Murphy’s law should include an additional part that states: when something does go wrong, it happens at the worst possible time. In no other instance is this truer than when it comes to vehicle problems.

Having a car break down late at night, in bad weather, or while out of town can cause an immense amount of distress and worry for your customers. The towing company or roadside assistance is often such a welcome sight that the vehicle owner doesn’t really care where their vehicle is taken in that moment.

Or your customer might attempt to get their vehicle towed to your dealership, but they are told that it isn’t possible. In some cases, this might be because the driver can only tow the vehicle to the nearest service center. In other instances, it could be that the tow truck company is associated with a repair service and will only tow there.


Keeping Your Customers From Going Elsewhere

The good news is that there are several strategies that will allow you to keep more of your customers from getting towed elsewhere.


Offer Dealer-Loyal Roadside Assistance

With dealer-loyal roadside assistance programs like DriveSure’s, you can offer your customers the peace of mind that roadside assistance provides while also ensuring that they get towed back to your dealership if they break down close by. Anytime an owner has a vehicle break down within 25 miles of your dealership, they’ll be towed to your service center so that they can get repairs from technicians they already know and trust. Programs like this are a win-win for you and your customer.


Perform Multi-Point Inspections with Every Service

Most dealerships understand how beneficial the multi-point inspection can be, so let this be one more reason to do them whenever you get the chance. By finding issues before they cause a breakdown, you can save your customer a lot of hassle AND reduce the chance of them ending up at another service center for an emergency repair.


Encourage Your Customers to Come In More Often

Of course, those inspections can only be performed when a customer brings in their vehicle. And with recommended service intervals getting longer and longer, those opportunities can feel few and far between. To encourage your customers to bring in their vehicles more often, focus on their need for regular tire rotations and consider offering additional value through a retention product like DriveSure.


Wooing Customers Back

What if it’s too late? What if a customer does wind up going to another service center and they continue to frequent that other service center instead of returning to you once the crisis is over?

What’s needed are some strategies that are designed to woo your loyal customers back. Below are a few suggestions:


Be Consistent with Reminders

For the ideal transition from sales to service, build into your strategy signing up every customer for regular maintenance reminders. Be sure that these are personalized for your customers — especially for those who are now going elsewhere for their servicing needs.

Personalizing your reminders by acknowledging that it’s been a while since they’ve come in for service, for example, shows your customers that they aren’t just a random number to you. Along with your reminders, send your customers news that they can use immediately but isn’t necessarily only specific to your dealership. For example, highlight events that are coming up, offer maintenance tips, or provide them with the latest in auto industry news.


Highlight Your Differences

You know your dealership isn’t like all the others out there, but do your loyal customers know that? Whether you offer free refreshments, a family-friendly waiting room, or a loaner vehicle during certain types of services, make sure your customers know that their needs will be taken care of should they decide to return.

Make your staff and your services easily accessible to your customers. Every staff member’s name, role, and contact information should be easy to find on your website so customers can approach them directly with questions, comments, and concerns. Ensure that those in leadership roles are transparent by making it a point to speak with loyal customers each time they come in. They’ll feel valued, confident, and important — all attributes you want them to associate with your dealership.


Losing a loyal customer to a competing service provider due to an emergency can seem like something that you can’t control. But, by implementing the above strategies in a thoughtful and creative manner, you can address or even prevent the issue altogether.


The Sales-to-Service Handoff Checklist for Creating Lifelong Customers

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