April 2012 Newsletter
Is Your Service Department Running at Peak
By: Jared Stika
As we all know, excellent customer service does not stop the moment a buyer drives
his or her new car off of the lot. Our goal should always be to retain our customers
not only for as long as they own one car, but for every future purchase as well.
Service departments play an integral role in maintaining ongoing relationships with
customers throughout the life of their vehicles. Nothing turns a customer off faster
than mediocre service! It doesn’t take much to give a customer a “bad feeling,”
whether through an unfriendly service tech, poor communication, unnecessary repairs,
or a dirty waiting room. And in today’s world of Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, and email,
one bad experience can go viral. On the other hand, one good experience can proliferate
into countless referrals for both servicing and purchasing.
Is your service department providing excellent customer service for routine maintenance
and repairs each and every time? It’s important to set your dealership apart from
the competition. We’ve put together the following checklist for you to determine
if your servicing department is a source of pride for your dealership, or if it
needs some serious overhaul.
1. Does your staff know your expectations?
Good communication skills are what set apart excellent managers from mediocre managers.
Do you effectively communicate what you expect of your service staff? If so, how
do you know if you message has come across? Of course, the only way you can tell
your staff what you want is if you know what you want. Before you sit down with
your staff, make sure that you have a clear picture of how you expect the customer
to be treated, whether for a minor routine oil change on a new vehicle, or a major,
expensive repair on an old one.
2. Do you inspect what you expect?
How often do you venture from your office over to the service department? You can
get a pretty good idea of how your staff works with customers by how they work with
you. Same thing goes for your shuttle service, if you have one. Have you taken a
ride with your drivers?
3. Do your customers feel welcome?
This may be the 21st century, but manners still go a long way! A courteous and respectful
service rep sets the tone for the customer’s entire experience and can also help
to diffuse a customer’s frustration or confusion if a repair ends up being more
extensive than originally thought.
4. Does your staff carefully inspect the customer’s car with them prior to work
There are two advantages to inspecting the customer’s car with them. First of all,
it may help to identify other service needs that the customer had not anticipated
and allows him/her to ask any questions that might arise. Second, it protects the
dealership from having to take responsibility for any damage that may already have
been present on the car.
5. Is your waiting area clean and customer friendly?
Today’s customers are busy, savvy people. At the very least, your waiting room must
be clean, well-lit, and comfortable as well as provide desk space and Wi-fi. A TV
and light reading material also help customers to pass the time, while free coffee
and beverages always go the extra mile. Remember, being able to wait for their car
to be serviced is one reason why people go to a dealership for service rather than
an independent mechanic, and these small expenses can add up to big business.
6. Do you wash every car?
Again, this is something that sets a dealer’s service department apart from an independent
service tech. It’s a small courtesy to our customers that makes feel good about
7. Does your staff explain all work performed on a customer’s car, before and
Not only is this state law for some of you, it’s an excellent practice. Transparency
and good communication give customers another opportunity to ask questions and give
you an opportunity to show your expertise and attention to details. However, it
goes without saying that your reps don’t talk down to the customers, either.
8. Does your staff follow up with every customer?
Make sure to solicit feedback from your customers through both informal conversations
and formal surveys and phone calls. Does the customer feel that the issue was addressed,
or is the car still not running well? Were they greeted with courtesy and respect?
Was their car clean when it was returned to them? Were repairs completed in the
If you can honestly answer “yes” to all of these questions, your service department
is already an important contributing asset to your business. If not, take a good,
hard look at what you can do differently so that your customers feel that they come
And as always, be sure to contact Autopeople if you need a manager who can take
your dealership to the next level.
For more information about Autopeople, please go to
www.autopeople.com or email us at email@example.com