Dealer Management Alert: Here’s a Guide for “How Appraisals in Your Service Department Can Help Sell More Vehicles”
Editorial Note from AIN Media: This document is really a comprehensive guide on “How Your Service Department can Help Sell More Vehicles” by creating a process in your dealership to gain & produce appraisals while customer vehicles are in the service land and thus produce possible vehicle sales leads for the dealership’s sales team.
From Service Drive to Showroom: Driving Leads from the Lift
It’s Saturday. You walk into your local warehouse store (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s Club) on a mission to pick up two things and two things only – paper towels and bottled water. An hour later you’re loading up your car with 27 items.
How did that happen?
Well, you walked past the frozen foods section on your way to bottled water and there she was, the free sample lady. So you grabbed a delicious bite which prompted you to buy the whole shebang for dinner…and then you noticed the picnic cooler you’ve been eyeing for two months which is suddenly on sale, and so on and so forth.
Are you upset you bought so much? No, you’re not, because you feel like you just got a deal.
Now what on earth does that have to do with Service Drive appraisals? Everything! A service customer is the most inexpensive UP in your dealership – they came to you and they want a free sample. By making service drive appraisals part of your process, you can hook your customers on a free sample (a strong appraisal valuation) and send them home with more than they came for – a new ride.
The key to making this an effective and efficient strategy for your dealership is by setting up a process that you live and die by. This process should include the following:
1. Get buy-in from your staff to implement a live or die process.
2. Be discriminate by appraising the right cars.
3. Engage with your customers – sales interaction is important!
Let’s take a deeper dive into creating a process to make service drive appraisals successful in your dealership.
Get buy-in from your staff.
You’re attempting to sell a vehicle to a customer who wasn’t necessarily in the market for one, which means it’s crucial to have engagement from your staff who believe and buy into the process. That starts by establishing clear guidelines so that sales and service work in harmony.
Does the service writer perform the appraisal or does a salesperson? Every dealership operates differently, but in our experience, it’s important to put people in the roles at which they excel. In this case, let the service writer focus on providing the best quality service to the customer and add on an early morning salesperson to do just that – sell! Salespeople who are assigned to the service drive love it because, well, they get every UP. Most importantly, be sure to incentivize your service writer by compensating him / her for business they’re driving to sales.
Appraise the right cars.
Any comedian or public speaker will tell you that reading the crowd is crucial. That same rule applies here. Not every joke works for every crowd, and neither does blindly appraising every unit that rolls into your service drive.
Be sure to do your homework. Did the customer buy the unit from your store two weeks ago? If so, why are they in for service so soon? Did the customer just lease this unit six months ago? Then they will probably have a hard time getting out of the lease so early. Is the customer in your CRM with multiple visits to the sales floor recently but no purchase on record? Speak to the salesperson to find out why they couldn’t buy. When you scan the VIN of the service drive unit, does it appear showing it’s been appraised at your dealership before? If so, how long ago? What was the appraisal amount? What did the car need then?
Remember to be selective in which service drive units you appraise so you don’t dig yourself into a customer service grave. Know your audience.
Engage in customer interaction.
It’s important for sales to engage service customers in a consultative way, ensuring the best trade and replacement vehicle buying experience possible. Be sure the sales personnel you select to work the service drive are well versed and comfortable in these three areas:
A qualified salesperson needs to be able to spot damage, prior repairs, paintwork, etc. as well as communicate with the service staff to gather necessary information about mechanical issues. In addition, the salesperson must be able to communicate all of this in a way that makes the customer engaged as opposed versus frustrated that you’re critiquing their vehicle.
Have all your resources ready to make a great offer with an assumptive close. Know what the service bill is, or is expected to be. Use this knowledge to find an excellent replacement vehicle on your lot. Are they a Yankees fan? Guide them to that Yankee blue SUV on your front line.
3. Follow up.
Didn’t get the close while they were on your lot? No worries. They didn’t arrive at your dealership intending to buy a car – but follow up is crucial! Inquire as to whether or not they were pleased with the appraisal value you quoted. Offer to have their vehicle independently valued by a third party organization. Did they see anything else on your lot that they liked or were interested in learning more about? Keep your eyes peeled for fresh trades or other service drive units that match their wish list. The bottom line? Keep the lines of communication open.
Megan Mahon is Director of Operations for The Appraisal Lane. Visit www.TheAppraisalLane.com or download The Appraisal Lane app from the App Store (iPhone/iPad) or Google Play (Android). For immediate inquiries about The Appraisal Lane, email firstname.lastname@example.org.