6 Tips for Service Lane Success in Your Dealership

Posted by Robert Poe on June 8, 2022

The car shopping process has changed thanks to the shortage of new and used vehicles. The computer chip shortage has led to fewer new vehicles being produced. Because of this, people started buying used vehicles. Naturally, higher demand for pre-owned vehicles caused the price of used vehicles to soar. Bring all of these factors together and it is understandable why automotive dealerships struggle to keep their lots full.

The successful dealerships have pivoted and made use of the extra space by focusing on expanding the service lane. It has never been more critical to provide the best customer experiences. This is where you'll get the biggest profits. Unfortunately, dealerships also face a shortage of technicians and expert advisors.

Nonetheless, it's smart business for automotive dealerships to invest in the service lane. Too often, management will concentrate on increasing repair orders and making their numbers. There is more automotive dealerships can do to optimize the service lane and deliver memorable customer experiences while bring in more profits.

Here are six tips for service lane success and enhancing customer service.

1. Promote Your Fixed Ops Services

You'd want to promote your most profitable service, right? After all, you want people to learn about it and use the service. Unfortunately, fixed ops does not get much attention in marketing efforts or on the dealership website. If your website is anything like a typical dealership website, it most likely spotlights new and used vehicles as well as trade-in and financing information.

Review your fixed ops services and identify the most profitable ones. Ensure those appear on the website and any other marketing resources. Don't assume customers know you offer services such as oil changes, windshield wiper replacement, alignments, transmissions, and battery replacement.

2. Create an Effective Service Lane Check-in and Check-out Process

The check-in and check-out processes at many dealerships leave much to be desired. The processes often result in customers waiting longer than they should. It's worth taking steps to create and improve your service lane processes.

Technicians and advisors in the service lane tend to be mobile. That's why it's wise to invest in software to digitize service lane processes and paperwork. This type of software makes it possible for technicians and advisors to use tablets and smartphones to quickly and easily update information about the work on a customer's vehicle. Technicians will have the vehicle's history at their fingertips. They can learn about any repair and service work that has been done on the vehicle.

Additionally, this software will make it possible to send proactive and sometime automated updates to customers. It'll prevent customers from calling in for an update on their vehicles. This creates less work for service advisors and cuts down on customer calls searching for updates.

The sales team can sell fixed ops services while making vehicle sales. They can enter service requests or comments from the customer, scan VINs, add photos, and more. Management can create reports to check their metrics and identify logjams in the service lane process. The right software can also work as a marketing tool. Besides proactively sending updates to customers using their preferred communication option, it can notify them when it's time for servicing and inspections.

During the lull between services, the system can send vehicle tips to customers. This keeps the dealership top of mind. This way if a problem pops up, the customer will think of the dealership first.

3. Upsell from the Service Lane

Someone bringing in a vehicle for servicing just may be ready for a replacement vehicle. Automotive dealerships need to include this in their strategy. When they're selling cars, they should sell services to compel customers to bring their vehicles to the service lane. As soon as they drive off with their new vehicle, they should be on your contact list (email, text, or another communication method) to receive reminders when it's time to come for an oil change or any other fixed ops services.

The same goes for when the customers are in the service lane. Use this opportunity to upsell other fixed ops services and even a new or used vehicle.

4. Compel Technicians and Advisors to Stay with Ongoing Training

Considering the shortage of workers, it's critical to hold on to your technicians and advisors. A good way to do that is to invest in an ongoing training and education programs. If they're continuing to learn new things and pick up new skills, they'll be less likely to leave for another dealership. It also helps them land promotions and raises. A raise is cheaper than finding and replacing a technician who leaves.

Is there a local community college or tech school that offers automotive training? Build a relationship with the school. In doing so, they may refer students to your dealership.

Don't wait until you need to hire. You need a recruiting strategy to ensure your dealership gets the cream of the crop when it needs to hire. Companies that don't continuously focus on recruiting will have a gap every time they ramp up their efforts.

5. Offer Easy Financing Options

One of the biggest reasons customers may not take their car in for servicing is because of financial restraints. They can't afford the service. Fill in that gap by creating financing options that will help customers pay for their vehicle's repairs without making sacrifices or putting it off. Dealerships can set up a service lane payment plan by partnering with a lender. These could be offered as credit cards that can be used to help customers with vehicle expenses.

Some lenders can offer low- or no-interest introductory rates. Or they may have other promotions and discounts that can be used toward vehicle expenses. For example, cardholders could get discounts on oil changes, tires, and other services. This will increase customer loyalty. You can gain trust by explaining the financing plan to the customer. Cover the fine print and the interest rate. It's better to be upfront about all the caveats with the financing option. Otherwise, the customer may never return to your service lane.

6. Add a Service Lane Kit

Automotive dealerships could see their profits disappear whenever a customer makes a personal injury or false damage claim. These types of cases are hard to win without evidence. If a customer makes a liability claim against a dealership and the dealership has Stealth's service lane kit (SLK) solution, then they contact the monitoring service to find the footage. Once the dealership receives the footage, they can send it to law enforcement and insurance to show what happened.

Otherwise, if a customer claims the technician damaged their vehicle, then the dealership will likely have to make repairs at no cost to the customer. The dealership could also lose out on the technician's time as they're spending it doing repairs that won't bring in income.

Another expensive problem is when a customer claims they got hurt on your dealership lot. If you can't prove they did not injure themselves while at your business, then you could have to pay their medical bills and any other costs associated with an injury claim. With the service lane kit, you could have the proof you need to avoid paying for claims related to personal injuries and vehicle damage.

An SLK solution includes high-definition IP cameras that are pre-programmed with Stealth's advanced analytics. Security experts install these video cameras in the service lanes to capture the entire exterior of all vehicles that enter the service lane. The solution will save all recordings for thirty days and contain time and date stamps. It helps speed up the search for any footage to address any customer claims.

A Stealth client avoided the cost and time associated with a damage claim because they had a recording that showed the customer came to the service lane with the damage already there. The customer claimed the technicians damaged their vehicle. The dealership contacted Stealth with the details of the customer's claim. Stealth analysts reviewed the recordings and found proof to protect the dealership from the claim.

In another scenario, a customer made a personal injury claim stating they were injured while at the dealership. Again, the dealership contacted Stealth to review the recordings. It turned out it was the customer's fault. The dealership avoided the cost of paying medical bills and any potential lawsuit.

These two incidents help justify the need to implement Stealth's service lane kit. This offering helps protect your dealership from false claims and the expenses associated with them. Additionally, the technicians can share recordings of their vehicles being worked on to build trust. That's because the videos show your dealership's dedication to safety and providing top customer service.

Unlike other dealership security technologies, the service lane kit is a proactive solution. It helps ensure your service lane always has eyes on it. Most other dealership security systems are reactive. This means the system won't do anything until after something happens. And often, it's too late. The service lane kit's remote video recording can help catch potential problems before they happen.

Your dealership can save time and cost by implementing a service lane kit. Most Stealth clients yield a return on investment within a few months. It's important to work with a company that has current experience in implementing an effective video surveillance system for your dealership. The security requirements for dealerships are different from other industries. When you work with dealership security experts, you'll help maximize your investment.

To learn more about dealership security, pick up your free copy of Four Auto Dealership Theft Trends and Their Side Effects. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Tips, Video Monitoring