Someone once said ‘if you always do what you have always done you will always get the same results’ (it was American success coach Tony Robbins – ed) and this is probably more relevant in the motor trade than any other business.
Despite numerous attempts to evolve and change, if you ask veterans in the trade many will still say “we have always done it like that”. But now many working in the car industry are finding that change is finally coming to them, and it’s going to big.
We have often acknowledged great retailers like Tesco and John Lewis as examples of companies who are absolutely committed to giving customers a first class experience and make handsome profits as a result. As the car industry has become more competitive the pie is getting smaller but with more mouths to feed meaning the industry simply has to improve.
After-sales is a very profitable part of the car trade but main dealers are in danger of losing more business to independents because they have become complacent and are not managing the expectations of their customers properly as a result. The hope is that as the franchised dealer groups finally wake up, smell the coffee and repair the damage, it might not be too late.
Research tells us that more than 65% of people take their cars outside the dealer network for servicing after the warranty runs out (normally after 3 years) because they perceive main dealer servicing as too expensive. The reality can be somewhat different but service advisors are just not equipped to be able to negotiate with customers in finding a price which is mutually acceptable. Because of this, basic services and MOT’s aside, the extra work is being lost to independent repairers who do have the flexibility to negotiate and see the bigger picture in providing great customer care with a realistic price in the interests of long term retention.
Let’s face it, paying money to maintain a car is never going to make people smile, you can rarely see what your money has been spent on and the car usually drives no differently, but because cars have to be maintained and serviced why not make the experience as pleasurable as possible?
After-sales teams will need to be trained in sales techniques and targeted to upsell extra work, but the good thing from a consumer point of view is that as this process improves, along with the service, there will be better deals to be had and as it becomes more competitive the service will improve as a result.
So next time you are presented with an estimate for any extra work your car needs remind the service advisor that times are hard and ask if he can “sharpen his pencil” and do a better deal. Remind them also that should they do so his business will retain a loyal customer.
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