I know that in writing this article, I’m completely violating the first rule of the fight club. However, my guess is that your dealership doesn’t have one, so I’m willing to risk the wrath of Tyler Durden to help you get started in creating a fight club of your own.
First, I’m not talking about the fight club that involves salespeople arguing over half-deals taking it “out back” to settle it. The fight club I’m talking about involves one simple truth:
Your salespeople should be fighting to work in your service drive.
You know this is true. I bet that you also fight tooth and nail to get your salespeople to work your service drive but, more importantly, to get them excited to do it!
Look, you’re probably spending somewhere north of $5,800 per month on sales-related software, of which over 90 percent is dedicated to showroom or Internet sales. The average dealer also spends $28,000 per month on advertising. However, most dealers allocate less than 5 percent to service. Yet the average profit per vehicle retailed in service is almost 20 percent higher than walk-in or Internet sales. Why? Because the typical service customer doesn’t come prepared to buy, which means they haven’t had time to price shop you, or research all 24 touchpoints consumers supposedly visit!
So, why does the average dealer have NO dedicated sales professional for service lane sales?
Every dealer is going to fall into some sales from their service drive. But, if you’re sitting back thinking about how many service lane sales your store generates every month, that’s the exact opposite of what you should be thinking. Stop focusing on the ones you sold and shift your focus to the ones you didn’t!
The main challenges in successful service lane sales are people and processes. Integrating a sales process into the service lane isn’t rocket science, but it must be tailored to service customers. Simply throwing a salesperson into the service drive, saying “Go get ‘em, tiger!” will only accomplish two things: it will alienate your service customers; and it will cost you more money from those salespeople drinking the “good” coffee you have for service customers.
In addition, your service writers don’t have any skin in this game. For every customer you succeed at dragging out of service and selling a car to, that’s a repair order they don’t get a commission on. Sales and service have always butted heads, but that’s only because most dealerships don’t operate as a cohesive unit, but rather as two entities.
Get your service advisors on board the sales train by including them in your sales meetings. Start spiffing them for bringing prime sales candidates to your attention -- You know -- that customer about to be presented with a $3,000 repair estimate. You might find that suddenly there is less friction and more cooperation between sales and service.
Don’t throw that super-aggressive closer out there and expect results. Service customers are willing to listen, but they don’t want to feel harassed. In addition, blanket selling to your service customers is unwise. You should know who is coming in to service the next day. By reviewing the service appointments, you can identify customers that are great candidates for a new vehicle. Have value propositions waiting for them when they arrive. I’ve found the most effective sales personality in the service lane is your soft sell guy. The salesperson who presents a value proposition in a non-aggressive, fact-based way can avoid alienating service customers. The customer is then more open to listening to the proposition.
By failing to have a good service sales process in place, most dealerships are not only missing out on additional sales, but those sales which are typically the most profitable. Gather the troops. Have a heart to heart. Get everyone on the same page. Train the best soft-sell sales candidates you have on how to handle service customers and put them in the service lane. Identify the best prospects and approach them with a previously prepared value proposition in a non-aggressive manner. You’ll find that your service to sales units increase, while holding some good profit. And that’s what it’s all about.