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While it is certainly true that most consumers who defect go to independent repair shops -- particularly the large chains, and these shops tend to be less expensive -- that is only part of the story.
In fact, when VINs are lost, independent shops are often not the largest leakage source, particularly during the warranty period. Rather, it is the most fearsome competitors -- the evil twins “decline” and “defer.”
At AutoNation, we believed we only completed half the work needed on the VINs entering the service lane. We either failed to find, or failed to sell, that additional work. Most often price was not the primary factor giving rise to the evil twins. We failed to achieve our service potential because of inadequate trust and communication.
So, what can a dealership do to handle these evil twins? Here are a few tips:
While I am not philosophically opposed to services over and above factory recommended, calling them “dealer recommended” is practically suicidal, reinforcing every negative view consumers have about dealer service. I always tell stores, “sell them if you believe in them enough to use in your vehicle and call them by their purported benefit,” – e.g. longevity, fuel economy, or performance packages.
When it comes to selling, the best advice I got was “intent trumps technique.” If your service writer clearly has the consumer’s best interest in their heart, consumers with say “yes,” even if the writer fumbles through the talk track.
So, the question to ask is whether you are hiring “care takers” or “mercenaries” as writers, and compensate them accordingly. Sorry, I am drifting back to pay plan and other bigger issues.
Too often, writers rely on phone calls rather than texts or emails. These days, digital communications tend to be preferred. They are more likely to be received during the business day and can carry the contextual information the consumer needs to make any major purchase decision. According to JD Power’s 2016 CSI study, nearly 40% of consumers prefer to learn about vehicle needs via text, yet only 3% received a text. Now that stat is improving, but we have a long way to go.
In summary, if you address Trust and Communication, not only could you realize more service revenue from the vehicles entering your service lanes today, but it would also go a long way to stemming later defection to the independent shops.