Sell Additional Service Through Inspections
When you change your mindset to educating customers about their vehicles instead of focusing on a sale, then the service department can see a shift in customer loyalty, as well as a willingness on the customer’s part to purchase more for his or her vehicle. Vinnie Casucci, service department manager of Capitol Toyota in San Jose, Calif., doesn’t use the word “sell,” or “upsell,” when it comes to providing customers with additional services.
“I don’t see it as selling to customers—it really is a transfer of information based on the vehicle, the age, the mile, the history on the vehicle,” Casucci says. “It’s just about taking all of that into account, talking to the guest and seeing what their needs are with the vehicle, and giving a presentation based on that information.”
Casucci has been with the service department for the last five-and-a-half years and has worked with his team to develop ways to approach customers with additional service needs, all while creating a stellar experience for those who choose to service their vehicles at the dealership.
Tending to the customer is often difficult when the customer is unaware of when the vehicle needs to be fixed, as well as what symptoms to look for to indicate when an appointment needs to be set with the service department.
“In general, most of our guests don’t know what their car needs,” Casucci says. “Everybody knows about the oil change, the other inspections, fluid or tire rotation inspections, so again, it’s us communicating—it’s all about us communicating.
“If somebody doesn’t know, they won’t know unless they’re taught.”
In order to get customers to recognize the need for a repair, Casucci has put an emphasis on an education-first mentality that allows customers to see the early signs of a needed repair or replacement. With an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars coming from 481 service reviews on DealerRater, the department has maintained good standing among its customer base. In the five years since Casucci came on board and started implementing this thought process, the ARO has increased 30 percent to $200.
The service department has a procedure set in place that allows customers to understand what’s going on in their vehicle, and provides better perspective on when it’s necessary to have additional repairs done.
Explain the process.
Customers are most likely unaware of what the inspection process entails for their vehicle. In order to give customers insight, Casucci’s service department focuses on how to make customers more comfortable and knowledgeable about their service.
“The last several years, [we’ve focused] on how can we improve on it,” Casucci says. “It’s sort of morphed into what we are using today and it’s been a progression.”
When customers walk into the door, the service department explains in detail what will occur during their repair process.
“Our guests are communicated [to] about the technicians performing the inspection while the vehicle is here with us,” Casucci says. “It starts right from the beginning—from where the repair order is written. No matter what it’s here for, the guest knows that we’re going to be going over a multipoint inspection and [will be] advised of that report.”
Perform the inspection.
Performing vehicle inspections allows the shop to better understand a customer’s vehicle, as well as provide customers with a check-up regarding his or her vehicle’s condition. In order to ensure that customers are aware of any potential issues with their vehicle, Casucci’s department takes time to look over every vehicle before the customer leaves the shop.
Over the last two years, the service department has focused on how to utilize the system to provide the best inspection for customers.
To allow customers to understand the inspection, the service department uses the “green, yellow, red,” system which helps describe the state a vehicle is in: green—good to go; yellow—keep an eye on it; red—requires immediate attention. Following the inspection, the service department takes the information right to the customer.
“The service advisor goes over with every guest the multi-point vehicle inspection,” Casucci says. “It’s all transferred information.”
“It’s added value that actually a lot of our guests store those records and they can see the progression of the MPI going from green to yellow to red,” he adds. “They’re saving that documentation.”
Explain the results.
Before leaving the shop, it’s important that customers are aware of what work was done on his or her vehicle, as well as what repairs were skipped over. The moment the inspection is finished, the customers are informed of the results immediately. Informing customers about the status of their vehicle by using a digital inspection gives the customer insight on whether or not his or her vehicle can make it out of the shop safely and efficiently.
“The advisors will call that guest and go over the report over the phone,” Casucci says. “We’ll break it down by what’s good on the vehicle, we’ll break it down by what’s marginal, or a service that isn’t ready for right now, but something to think about, and then we’ll talk about if the technician sees any immediate needs.”
Following the call, the report is explained in person once the customer arrives.
In addition to showing the guest, the service department also makes time to answer any questions the customer may have.
If customers deny a service, following up later on may bring the customer back into the business, Casucci says.
“We do document that on the repair order [and] it falls under a ‘deferred recommendation off-code’ that is tracked by our advertising company and we will send out an email to them just advising them of those recommendations,” he says. “All of their contact information is there.”