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There is nothing more frustrating to a service advisor than presenting legitimate service recommendations to a customer only to lose the sale because of a customer’s finances. The service advisor could do a great job building the relationship, presenting the service recommendations and instilling value. However, if the customer cannot pay for the services, they lose the sale, no matter how much the customer wants to get the work done.
This is exactly why financing options make just as make sense in service as they do in sales. Retailers do a great job of this. You cannot go into a Best Buy without seeing offers for 6 months, or longer, interest free financing. The same is true for most furniture stores. These retailers force everything based on payment. Customers have become accustomed to it. They get it in sales. The first thing out of the customer’s mouth is usually something along the lines of “I want that Toyota Camry, can I get it for $299 per month?” But on the service side it is rare to even talk about financing. While a customer may not be able to afford a $1,500 repair bill all at once, they could perhaps afford a reasonable monthly payment.
We’ve seen dealerships that offer financing increase activity on the service drive, increase revenue at the service center and enhance overall customer satisfaction. We’ve seen service centers consistently increase revenues by 20%; average R.O. close rates as high as 63%; and it is not uncommon for shops to add an additional $46,000 in shop revenue per month.
The key to decreasing service declines and maximizing customer participation lies in making your customers aware that they have other options available to finance the repair as early as possible in the repair process.
Start awareness early. Don’t wait until a large repair bill is presented, start making your customers aware of this option early in your process. Feature it as a drop down menu on your website under “Service.” Some dealers even have it pop up as an option as part of the online scheduling process. When you send service appointment reminders, include a message that financing options are available, with a link for the customer to get pre-approved. Whether they need a large repair, or a simple oil change, at the very least you have made the customer aware that financing exists.
If your financing partner offer it, promote that you offer 0% APR for qualified customers when they pay the loan off within 60 days. This could capture the attention of any customers that are perhaps momentarily cash-squeezed and find it more convenient to finance the repair for a couple of months, with no finance charges.
Integrate financing options into each process touchpoint. From the moment the customer pulls into your service drive, train your advisors to inform customers that financing options are available to them. The customer is then primed with the knowledge and may not be quite so hasty to decline the recommendations, opting instead to explore financing as a viable option. Copy the successful practices of department stores. Whenever the customer is ready to pay for repairs, train your employees to ask whether they would like to pay with cash, check, credit card or financing. Department stores use this process for a simple reason, it works.
Whenever a service advisor prepares to present a customer with a significant service recommendation or unexpected repair, make sure that they always inform the customer during that presentation that financing options are available. By making this a consistent process, customers that would normally decline service simply because they cannot afford it, can explore an alternate method of payment that they perhaps can afford. We have found that the customer is then less likely to turn down the service.
If you keep the message in front of your customers throughout the entire service experience, an increasing amount of customers will be happy to get the work done, instead of declining the service.