How likely is it that your customers will return to your dealership for their next car purchase?

It depends where they go for service.

According to Cox Automotive’s Service Industry Study, 74% of customers who returned for service within 12 months came back for their next car purchase, but only 35% returned who didn’t come back for service.

The service department is not only a valuable revenue-driver on its own, but also dramatically increases the retention of your customers when it’s time for a new car.

Winning back your customers comes through intentionality. It starts by educating customers on the services you offer, the difference of dealership maintenance, and creating an amazing experience for customers.

One way to do this is through a tour of your vehicle service department. A tour helps your customer experience and make for a smooth sales-to-service handoff—boosting your service department revenue and retention of new car sales.

74% of customers who returned for service within 12 months came back for their next car purchase, but only 35% returned who didn’t come back for service.

Benefits of a Service Department Tour

A quick tour of your vehicle service department can be an easy addition to the new buyer process, but one with many long-term benefits as you build relationships with customers (and their business in the future).

Highlight your services.

Who is your customers’ first thought for tires, oil changes, or other maintenance? While your dealership offers great maintenance services, some customers are drawn to aftermarket shops instead. Why is that? Often it comes down to customer education. If your customers don’t know what services you offer, how will they know to return to you?

Don’t forget to share about your tire department and other unique benefits you offer! This can be as easy as sharing a print-out of all your services and spending a few minutes talking about the ways your dealership can help during the tour.

Showcase the dealership difference.

But beyond knowing what services you offer, many customers aren’t educated on the reasons why your dealership is a better choice than the Jiffy Lube down the street. In their mind, the services are the same, so it doesn’t matter where they take their car. The tour is your chance to show these new car buyers how your dealership is different and focus on the benefits they miss by going somewhere else.

Start by sharing about your team. Emphasize the importance of factory-trained technicians and the impact they have on the long-life of the vehicle. Don’t be afraid to point out the specific expertise your team has—expertise that is harder to find at an aftermarket shop. Then highlight the OEM parts and inventory you carry at the dealership that can lead to faster, more reliable repairs.

Educated customers make educated decisions.

In general, focus on the value that your dealership brings through the specific experience of your team and the relationships you have with manufacturers when it comes to training and parts. Educated customers make educated decisions.

Create a memorable customer experience.

We live in an age of experiences.

Cox Automotive’s Service Industry Study reaffirms the importance of the customer experience in your service department specifically. According to their latest study, more than half of consumers say they would be willing to travel farther and pay more for an enhanced customer experience at an auto dealership’s service department.

That’s where the tour comes in.

It shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch—instead it should feel like a friend showing you around the dealership because they care about your experience, want you to know what the dealership offers, and genuinely want to be helpful. Remember that customer retention is enhanced through relationships. So use the tour as an opportunity to set the stage to build an ongoing relationship with your customer, one that will motivate them to return to you with their questions, concerns, and, ultimately, repairs.

It shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch—instead it should feel like a friend showing you around the dealership because they care about your experience, want you to know what the dealership offers, and genuinely want to be helpful.

It can also be a chance to create a personalized feel to the experience.

If they felt like they are the main focus during the sales process, why should that end when they interact with your service department? A tour can help answer their questions about service and educate them on their vehicle. Again, it’s all about the experience people have at your dealership and how they feel after interacting with your team. A tour is a great way to have more control over customer perception and handle it with intentionality.

But knowing the value of a tour is one thing. Rolling it out to your dealership is the next step. How do you add a tour to the new car sales experience?

Add a Vehicle Service Department Tour

Start with the expectations.

Take time to walk through the benefits of a service department tour with both your sales and service teams. Getting them on board is important, otherwise it’s difficult to maintain this addition to the process. Paint the full picture of the customer experience to your team—new car customers who get service at the dealership are much more likely to return for their next car purchase.

Build the tour into the buying process.

During buyer downtime, while the vehicle is being prepped, walk customers through the service department. This is important to give them a full view of the services that your parts and service department can offer.

Introduce them to a member of your service team.

Find a few members of your service team who are willing to give these tours. Ask individuals who can explain all your services and build a connection with the buyer. This person can also be their main point of contact if they need service in the future. This adds a personal feel to the service relationship.

Paint the full picture of the customer experience to your team—new car customers who get service at the dealership are much more likely to return for their next car purchase.

Show the layout of the service department.

If a buyer is familiar with your service department, where to go to drop off the car, and where they can wait, it will be easier for them to choose your familiar dealership over an unfamiliar aftermarket shop.

Explain the appointment process and maintenance schedule.

Make sure the buyer is comfortable with the process and knows the various ways they can schedule appointments or call if they have issues. Bonus: have them schedule their first appointment during the tour. It’s a great way to show that your dealership cares, and you’ll be one step closer to closing that important first service visit.

Spend time talking about the services you offer.

Make sure lack of knowledge is not the reason customers don’t return.

Conclusion

A tour of your service department is a great opportunity to create a positive experience for your customers, informing them of the ways that your dealership can help. Take advantage of the opportunity and keep customers coming back!

FREE RESOURCE

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.