Customers come first.

It’s the mantra of many dealerships, but it’s easy to say and harder to live out.

That’s where the deeper value of upselling comes in. For top dealerships, it goes far beyond an increase in service revenue: it’s about educating your customers and reinforcing that their safety comes first.

So how does your dealership use upselling tactics to reinforce the importance of your customers and build lifelong relationships?

Keeping Customers First in Upselling

The first step is to remember the true purpose of upselling. If your dealership’s primary concern is the bottom line and is only upselling as a way to increase revenue, it will show in your relationships with customers (and ultimately, your ability to retain them).

Here are a few questions for service advisors to ask themselves to keep the right priorities top-of-mind:

1.   Did I help the customer win?

Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer describes upselling as helping your customers win. Ultimately that’s the purpose of upselling in your service department—to keep your customers safe and help them “win.” To do this well, focus on the value that you can bring to your customers and keep their needs front-and-center.

2.   What did the customer learn?

Rather than viewing your service advisors as simply the ones selling services, a focus on education allows them to become true advisors. When they offer valuable insight into a vehicle’s health, they becoming a trusted resource when there is an issue.

3.   Did I improve the relationship?

If the focus is on helping customers reach their goals and educating them on what’s best for their vehicle, the result will be a long-term relationship. What if one of your service advisors becomes the person a customer calls when they’re worried about a potential issue with their vehicle? If their first thought is to contact your team, then you’re doing something right!

But that starts by building a relationship and taking the time to educate your customers, not just getting them in and out for an oil change.

Develop Resources to Educate Customers

Trust is a key component as you look to upsell your services. And this type of trust isn’t developed overnight. So take the time to develop resources that will show the impact of the maintenance or add-ons your service advisors suggest.

Don’t simply tell a customer that they need to replace their air filter. Take it a step further and educate them on the overall impact to the vehicle when this maintenance is overlooked.

By doing this, you reinforce the value you have to offer by showing it, not just telling. A good way to do this is to create explainer sheets, quick videos, or pictures that show the damage caused without these repairs.

How to Prioritize Services When Upselling

As you look to offer additional services to your customers, make sure you prioritize what you offer.

The best place to start is with a multi-point inspection. From there, focus on the importance of safety features and clearly demonstrate their impact to your customers. After that, make sure your team prioritizes the rest of your offerings in a way that keeps customers’ goals and the vehicle’s performance at the center.

Upsell services in this order:

  • Safety features like wipers, tires, brakes, batteries
  • Maintenance packages
  • Vehicle performance and drivability
  • Appearance maintenance
  • Accessories and service contracts

Establish Your Dealership’s Credibility

Another benefit of upselling done well is that it builds credibility in the eyes of your customers. For example, if you check a customer’s tires and find that they are at 6/32”, share that their tires might need to be replaced on their next visit. Keeping your customers informed builds a relationship based on transparency and honesty.

On the other hand, an intense focus on upselling for the wrong reasons can quickly damage your dealership’s reputation and credibility. If you try to sell services or maintenance to a customer when they don’t need it, their trust in your dealership will be shaken. This can be harmful, especially when their vehicle needs important repairs.

Keeping your customers first when it comes to upselling will build these relationships and continue to demonstrate that you are looking to provide true value to the people who trust your dealership with the service of their cars.

The Result of Upselling Done Right

When you put money ahead of people, it shows in the service that you offer. Instead, focus on sharing information with your customers and giving them the opportunity to purchase additional maintenance and repairs because it’s safe and valuable for them to do so.

The result? Lifelong customers. The financial benefit is just a bonus.

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