Of the over 16,000 car buyers in a recent survey, just 42% indicated that they’d met members of the service department. That means that a whopping 58% either hadn’t been introduced to the service team or couldn’t remember the interaction.

Like any other well-oiled machinery, a dealership relies on all its parts working together in order to run efficiently. Two of those departments that are inextricably linked are sales and service. By supporting the sales-to-service handoff, both benefit as does the dealership as a whole. 

While it might appear on the surface that the sales department and the service department have two different objectives — one is trying to sell cars while the other is focused on fixing them — this view is too narrow in scope. Instead, the long-term goals of the dealership need to be at the forefront of both departments. That is: growing its base of loyal customers. 


Staff Education is Key

Once the sales staff and service team understand the relationship between their different departments, they must work together to support each other. Consumers need to see that everyone in your dealership is unified and part of the same team. 


Integrate Service into the Sales Process

As noted in the survey mentioned above, visitors to new car dealerships are not being given information about the availability of the service department much of the time. Integrating the service department as part of the sales process can significantly increase awareness and build loyalty. Some ideas include: 


Tie sales pay to customer retention

Consider tying a portion of sales pay to markers that indicate a consumer has committed to coming back for their first maintenance visit. Tying compensation to setting the first service appointment is one way of integrating the service associate and the salesperson into the handoff process.


Plan for the unexpected

Ensure that you have literature available that highlights your service department, the maintenance schedule that applies to the customers vehicle, and any other pertinent information available in the event that there is downtime during the sales process. While consumers are waiting for a financing decision, for example, they have the opportunity to learn about the well-rounded experience your dealership can offer. 


Service department closed? No problem!

Just because your service department is closed doesn’t mean that your customers have to forgo an introduction to the team and its offerings. Consider having a professional-grade video made that includes key personnel within the department that introduce themselves and take consumers on a brief virtual tour of the facilities. 


Highlight Your Dealership’s Versatility

Today’s consumers want convenience so they can save time when taking care of their responsibilities. Showcase the one-stop-shop theme of your dealership. In addition to introducing them to the service department, point out the parts department — highlighting the time-saving nature of having access to OEM parts — and the collision center, if you have one. 


Underscore the Value You Bring

The sales-to-service handoff hinges on the ability to deliver value to your customers. In addition to pointing out the numerous advantages of using genuine OEM parts that are manufactured specifically for their vehicle, introduce them to the service department processes.

Explain what the multi-point vehicle inspection and complimentary walk-around entails, and their value. Underscore the fact that these value-driven services will keep their vehicle in safe operating condition and help it deliver peak performance. Highlight the fact that regular maintenance can keep small issues from mushrooming into more expensive ones.


Be Transparent

A Cox Automotive study in 2018 revealed that most vehicle owners return to the dealership for service if their vehicle is still in warranty. However, three out of 10 don’t once their warranty has lapsed. In addition to the distance to the dealership and the cost, another concern was the fear that they would be overcharged.

Including a pricing sheet with the costs of basic maintenance and scheduled repairs with the literature presented during their sales visit can help alleviate some of that concern.


The sales-to-service handoff doesn’t need to be a forced process once everyone remembers that they all work on the same team. Highlighting what’s best for the dealership naturally translates into what’s best for every member of the staff, as well as the customers you serve. For more handoff tips and a handy checklist, click here.


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

Unlock the secrets of mastering the all-important sales-to-service handoff and watch your customers come back again and again.

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.