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Be ready to explain why dealership repair is better than independent shops

August 28, 2015
A customer’s relationship with the dealership service department often starts out strong, but as time goes on and warranties expire, customer loyalty dwindles.
One industry study showed that within the first two years of vehicle ownership, 45 percent of customers remained loyal to the dealership service department. After three years of ownership, the number decreases to 31 percent; and after seven years, just 13 percent continue to return.
But there are ways for dealers to entice customers to bypass the service lanes of independent repair facilities and return to the dealership for repairs. It’s all about demonstrating to customers what advantages there are to using the dealership service lane, said Mark Pierret, the director of sales and marketing at Budco Financial, a Detroit company that assists dealers looking to enhance revenue outside of vehicle sales.
A dealer’s service department has a lot going for it, Pierret said. Car dealers should demonstrate to customers that they can’t get the same quality of service anywhere else. That includes:
• High-quality OEM parts. Customers can be sure that they’re getting parts that are made for their specific vehicle.
• Factory-certified technicians. Dealership mechanics have strong expertise in servicing specific vehicle makes and models. Customers can’t get this caliber of specialized talent at a local service facility.
• Unbeatable customer service. The dealership represents a vehicle manufacturer, so the dealer have to meet its high customer-service standards. Most independent shops aren’t held to this high standard.
• Top-notch facilities. Similarly, because dealerships are part of a larger network, the resources and facilities are far above smaller shops. Dealers have the latest and greatest tools, the most service bays and the cleanest facilities that are more inviting for customers.
• Ties to the local community. Customers can have confidence their vehicles are in the best of hands, because the people who are servicing them may very well be their neighbors.
"Your customers may not want the hard sell, but rather a little reassurance they’re being heard and that you and your team can step in to assist when they need it," Pierret said.