As dealerships look for opportunities to increase the frequency of interactions with clients and enhance the value of each engagement, many are shifting focus from single occurrence front-end sales interactions to the numerous lifetime Fixed Operations opportunities.
Historically, creating and maintaining customer loyalty in Fixed Operations has been a battle for franchised dealers. To add transparency to the vehicle inspection process, many dealerships have been performing some form of paper-based Multi-Point Inspection (MPI) process for years. However shifts in buyer behavior and rapid technological advancement, are significantly impacting on-the-spot sell-through of identified work.
In declining (or maybe better said – deferring) a service or repair recommendation identified during the MPI, customers often cite a lack of time and transparency as overriding factors in their decision-making. On the surface, this seems difficult to comprehend as no entity in market invests more in the way of tools, technology, and training than dealerships do in servicing their supported automakers and their models. So, if there is no better individual than a factory trained/certified technician to determine the condition and safety of a vehicle, what is keeping the customer from trusting their insights and authorizing the work identified?
Past personal experiences, word of mouth and now online reviews have contributed to an impression and reality that the dealership’s service process is not necessarily the fastest in market when it comes to identifying service/repairs needed, communicating clearly the time and cost of each service/repair, and then actually repairing the vehicle. Independent repair shops focus on a small set of specific repairs; allowing the entire service workflow of inspect, identify, quote and repair to be completed in a faster total turn then a dealership. Studies have shown that a customer’s propensity to purchase recommended services is at its peak within the first 15 minutes after checking the vehicle in with the repair facility. Instead, dealership service workflows are typically a series of overlapping however linear events:
- Performing a MPI,
- Identifying potential work beyond a primary repair concern,
- Determining the needed core parts and ancillary components,
- Pricing of those items,
- Identifying labor times/operations,
- Pricing the labor,
- Presenting the results to the customer for consideration
All too often, this process significantly exceeds this ‘magic’ 15-minute threshold. Every Service Advisor has witnessed the obvious disappointment of a customer who has been waiting in the lounge for an hour, only to be told their vehicle has only been inspected, rather than fixed. Talk about a miss-match in expectations – the customer is expecting the service process to be complete but learns that their vehicle has only passed through the initial stage(s) of the repair process. Selling additional work at this point for many service advisors becomes much more difficult and can damage an already delicate customer relationship.
To build trust and retain customers, dealerships are refining process workflows with new tools and technologies. Technicians are becoming empowered to quickly perform an MPI while simultaneously quoting common repairs with little to no intervention by either the Parts Department or other Service Department personnel. Required service and/or repairs, including the identification of critical information to support a completed MPI, are being performed in parallel (as opposed to a linear fashion) with the customer’s primary vehicle concern(s) so that the Service Advisor can engage the customer when they are most receptive to purchase – within the magic 15-minute initial time block.
Transparency – A Picture DOES Speak a Thousand Words
How many of us today would blindly purchase something off of the Internet or in a store without first seeing the product being advertised? Pictures sell; it’s just that simple. MPIs that include photo or video evidence of exactly why repairs are required see a significant increase in sell- through. Industry findings show that when photo or video evidence is included in the service process, a 10 – 16% lift in sales is realized. The key however, is that the photo or video evidence must be actual evidence. Stock photos of a generic air filter or engine belt does not deliver the same impact as the dirty/damaged air filter or worn/cracked belt from the customers’ own vehicle. The transparency created by this evidence is undebatable and provides the basis for a trusting relationship between the customer and your service team.
The good news is that your service staff carries a camera with them every day. Smartphone ownership and usage is so common and so engrained, that it takes mere seconds to capture a quick photo of a damaged belt or dirty air filter. No longer do dealerships have to acquire specific single- use hardware or technologies to perform advanced functions. To deliver better results, use what you and your employees already have – a smartphone – and incorporate it into the normal processes of your repair facility.
Everyone wins in this scenario. The customer has visual evidence of recommended service or repair(s) presented to them and can instantly authorize any or all of the work to be completed. The dealership sells additional revenue per repair order, and the technician earns more with the ability to create trust through transparency with the customer.
Consumers have continual rising expectations of quality work, all while demanding shorter wait times. Creating a process workflow that meets customers’ expectations can be challenging. However, with the right approach that combines the skills and capabilities of your staff, the use of widely-adopted and readily available technologies, and software solutions that are adaptable to your specific needs, you can see a significant lift in hours per RO and total customer pay.