Your service department has always been vital to your bottom line. Now, with the necessary social distancing measures we’re undertaking to combat the spread of the coronavirus, it can save your dealership. Your service department is considered an essential service in almost every state, so it’s the one part of your dealership that will remain open and earning for you. With a few minor adjustments, you can position your service department to carry you through.
What Kind of Service?
What with everyone driving a lot less, it might seem strange to suddenly advocate for the importance of service. Anyone who knows cars will tell you that a car that isn’t being driven regularly brings with it a host of new problems. Dead batteries, tires with flat spots, rusty brake rotors, and possibly even nests of rats are all potential problems for a neglected car.
Your service department should be extra vigilant for these specific problems. In addition, you can offer specific coupons to cover for these kinds of issues. Your advertising should shift, as many drivers simply aren’t aware of what can happen to a car that isn’t regularly driven. Educating your customers via social channels and email, and then giving a convenient way to act (perhaps with a service offer/specials), is an excellent one-two punch that helps everyone.
Alternately, your customers might rather mothball their car for the duration of social distancing. While some parts of the process—the cover and storage—aren’t something you can help with, filling the tires, washing it inside and out, undercoating the exposed metal, and other steps are parts you can absolutely do. Again, a coupon for the service wouldn’t hurt, and your customers will be secure in knowing that their vehicle will be in good working order when they need it again.
A New Standard of Cleanliness
One of the best ways to curtail the spread of the virus, in addition to responsible social distancing, is cleanliness. By now you know to wash your hands for twenty seconds, while singing a song to keep track of the time. My choice? “The Safety Dance.” Because when I’m done washing my hands, I’m safe. Plus, I can dance if I want to.
If you can’t get your hands on disinfectant, the CDC has a simple recipe on their website for a version that will work. Have your technicians make liberal use of it, concentrating on any location that would see a lot of contact from hands: door handles, steering wheels, gear shifters, window controls, etc.
Source (disinfectant): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html
Moreover, make certain your staff is wearing masks and gloves at all times. This shows your customers that you’re putting their health first and they’ll feel a lot better about taking their business to you. Furthermore, make sure that it is front and center in all your advertising and on your website. Letting your customers know that you are running a safe operation and doing everything in your power to prevent the spread of COVID goes a long way.
Your Marketing Can Adapt
While nonessential businesses and parts of businesses are closed, it’s important to lean into the ones that remain open. Your service department has always been essential, but now it’s Capital-E essential. So move your marketing in that direction.
The coupons we discussed earlier are an excellent place to start. Go with the services that your customer base is going to need. Also, think about rewarding specific kinds of customers. Delivery people are still putting miles on their vehicles, and we’d be a lot worse off without them. Throwing a coupon or three their way is a good start. Medical professionals could also use the help, and they deserve whatever we can give them.
Emphasize the steps you’re taking to ensure that a customer’s vehicle is the most inhospitable environment for a novel coronavirus possible. Pictures of your PPE-clad technicians working away in your active service department can go on your website and social media accounts. And don’t forget to wipe down all surfaces where your customers can and can’t see. This is the kind of word-of-mouth that passes along during Zoom meetings.
Service with a Smile (or in this case Delivery)
Your customers are hopefully following the rules of stay-at-home orders and getting their vehicle to the service department may not be a comfortable feat for them. Here is your time to shine, delivery and pick-up, I’m talking concierge service. Scheduling pickups and returns of your customers will not only have them feeling like a million bucks, but also keep them and your teams safe. Show your customers that you care and are forward thinking, and make it easy for them to do business with you.
The service department is such an important part of any dealership, but too often it gets put on the back burner to the more glamorous showroom when it comes to online marketing. With your showroom closed, it’s time to give service its due. Shift your marketing to the specific concerns of your customer base and showcase the essential part of your business and you’ll be doing fine.