What if I said you were only minutes away from increased sales and improved customer relationships?
Too good to be true? Maybe so, but those few precious minutes with each customer can make that a reality, and it all happens in your service drive.
The most important part of a service visit is often also one of the quickest and easiest – the vehicle walk-around. While they should be performed at every service visit, they don’t always happen because many service advisors don’t know the benefit to doing them.
The most common reasons service advisors give for conducting walk-arounds are:
- To protect the dealership from damage claims
- To upsell the customer on needed services and items for their vehicle
- The service manager told them to perform walk-arounds
The walk-around should be one of the steps in establishing a personal relationship with the customer. Of course, you need to protect the dealership, and you need to upsell because that makes the dealership profitable, but everything should begin with the customer in mind.
The write-up process generally takes about four minutes, and the walk-around should happen within the first 45 seconds — after asking about the primary reason for the visit. Asking that simple question at the start of the service appointment shows the customer the service advisor is listening and cares about what is most important to them.
Here are three tips for service advisors to leverage the walk-around as an opportunity to build relationships with customers and increase sales:
- Always ask the customer’s permission. This gives the customer a sense of control so the service advisor can immediately start exceeding their expectations. If the service advisor is concerned the customer will be reluctant to give permission, try leading with ‘I want to do a quick visual inspection to make sure I give your vehicle back to you in the same or better condition than when you brought it to us.’ It makes a huge difference in building trust.
- Invite the customer to come along. Most service advisors do walk-arounds when the customer isn’t there. This is a missed opportunity to build a relationship and put the customer at ease. At the same time, you can assess any damage, Try asking, ‘Are you aware you have a ding in the door? Would you like a complimentary estimate on that?’ However, it’s important to not sell during the walk-around. Customers are most concerned about the reason they came into the dealership.
- Talk about something other than the car. It’s typical for the customer to be worried about the car, what is wrong with it and how much it will cost. During the walk-around, service advisors are in a great position to create conversation to put them more at ease. People want to talk about the things that are important to them, so service advisors should use the car to help find out what that might be. It could be a sticker for their alma mater, sports gear in the back seat or a trailer hitch.
What’s in it for service advisors to do a walk-around? A long-term customer who will spend money and buy things instead of the advisor having to actively sell to them. Very quickly, a walk-around will become something service advisors actively want to perform and look forward to.