Across the industry, manufacturers are asking (or requiring) dealerships to upgrade their facilities. And we’ve seen that most dealerships could probably benefit from some spiffing up...
According to a survey by the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average U.S. dealership has been in the same place for nearly 30 years. Just think about how much styles — and industry practices — have changed in the last three decades.
But where do you start?
Here are 10 easy, low-cost to no-cost ways to make over your store, both in terms of facilities and operations.
1: Clean up the clutter
Walk through your store with the mindset of someone who has never been there. What do you see? Are there haphazard stacks of papers on desks or counters? Boxes of last year’s brochures on the floor? The things that we might think are part of everyday life can appear as clutter to the customer.
2: Replace your lighting
Many dealerships have been switching to LED lighting throughout the store which can really help brighten up the showroom. The new lights also last longer, use less energy and are easier on associates’ eyes.
3: Dress for your day
Every dealership has its own dress code, but be mindful about the way you dress if you anticipate a lot of face time with customers.
4: Establish a customer bill of rights
This statement covers what the customer can expect when they come to your store. Some dealerships have opted to have one on an easel by the front door. It’s a great conversation starter with the sales associate and sets the proper tone from the beginning.
5: Personalize your technicians’ workspaces
We all like to do business with people we know and trust.
Personalize your technicians’ stalls with nameplates that include their certifications, areas of expertise and their tenure at the store. It not only helps customers make a connection to the person working on their car, but it also lets technicians know that their knowledge and experience is valued by the store.
6: Add some cookies or beverages
Really though, who doesn’t love cookies?
Nothing expresses hospitality more than homemade food and fresh-cut flowers. You can also try bagels in the mornings or sandwiches delivered just before lunchtime. Many dealers are also offering customers cappuccino, espresso, water and sodas.
7: End every test drive in the service drive
Don’t wait until after the contract is signed to introduce your customers to your service department; use it as part of the sales process. Give customers a tour of the service department to see what they’ll experience when they bring their car for service.
8: Make your lounges welcoming
Why is it that that the magazines in service department lounges always seem to be three years old?
Keep the reading material current, and have something of interest for men, women and children, or even try having iPads or computers available.
9: Engage the customer on the service drive
The typical conversation with a customer starts with “Can I help you?” or “Do you have an appointment?” Next time, try something like “Is there someone in particular you’d like to see today? Let me take you to that person.” You can also try communicating a few of your responsibilities to set good expectations: You will take care of all their vehicle needs, you will keep them informed of the status of their service, and you will do this in a timely manner (or whatever is relevant for you)
10: Set the next service appointment at delivery
Dentist offices do this after every teeth cleaning. It not only promotes loyalty, it also builds a book of business months in advance. Follow up with reminders a month and two weeks before the scheduled appointment. With those reminders, tell customers about any specials being offered that apply to their vehicles.