1st October 2020
In response to lockdown on the 30th March, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a six month MOT extension after dealers and garages had to temporarily close. Now, six months later, this has created a surge in demand for MOTs, effectively doubling the number of vehicles that will require MOTs. Figures predict a total of 11.28 million vehicles will need an MOT over the next 3 months, with 200 extra tests expected in the busiest hotspots.
Aftersales are a lucrative and important source of revenue for dealerships and a typical service department can make up to 50% of a dealership’s overall profits. With reduced servicing income during lockdown, it is important that dealers boost their aftersales offering to retain customers and benefit financially. So how can car dealers prepare for this predicted surge in demand and make the most of the additional aftersales opportunities this will bring?
Prepare to be busy
Firstly, ensure your dealership is utilising all available resources in preparation for the busy servicing period. Make sure you are fully staffed and open all service bays for work to accommodate bookings, as you do not want to lose business by turning customers away. If possible, extend operating hours on peak days temporarily, to make room for more bookings, especially for those who want to bring their cars in outside of working hours.
Accurate customer data
Research has shown that 56% of all MOT tests performed last year were carried out with extra work, highlighting the importance of customer business. To secure aftersales trade, implement an MOT reminder service, as findings have shown that 60% of motorists are more likely to book their car in with a dealership that reminds them about vehicle maintenance at an appropriate time and a reminder three to four weeks ahead of the due date results in the best customer response.
For the MOT reminder service to work, dealers must ensure customer records are up to date with accurate MOT due dates and customer contact details, in order to maximise chances of customer bookings. autoVHC a platform from Snap-on Business Solutions, for example, has a text and email reminder function which uses information within the system to automatically contact customers to remind them that their vehicle is due a service.
The method of customer contact is also a factor to bear in mind. SMS text messaging is by far the most popular method of communication, but it doesn’t suit everybody. Some customers would prefer an email, phone call or even a letter so make sure you take the time to find out customer preferences, to enable a more personalised service.
Affordable servicing and repairs
When faced with an upfront bill for servicing and repairs, many motorists will naturally look for a cheaper alternative, which could result in loss of business to independent outlets. Working in partnership with an auto finance company, can allow you to offer interest-free finance to spread the costs of servicing and repairs over a manageable time frame and could be a key pull-factor for customers, as well as play a role in customer retention.
As with any customer-facing business, the ability to offer some kind of incentive is a proven method of boosting retention and persuading customers to do business with you. Added incentives could be a discounted service package for out of warranty vehicles or partnering with a third party supplier to offer a deal on roadside assistance. Other USPs you could advertise to your customers could be a collection and delivery service or extended opening hours, for improved flexibility and convenience.
Transparency for customers
A priority for dealerships is creating a service that customers have faith in and is capable of capturing future business once a warranty expires or through referrals and recommendations. Electronic vehicle health checks can play a key role in improving communication between dealerships and motorists, such as autoVHC’s software, which enables red and amber work to be identified, photographed, logged and presented to customers quickly, consistently and professionally. Electronic vehicle health checks provide full visibility over any work that may be required, showing precisely what needs to be done and why, before any repairs are carried out.
Many motorists have a limited understanding of automotive engineering and so going the extra mile to translate technical processes into a clear, customer-friendly format can improve levels of trust and communication between dealers and motorists. In addition, by demonstrating a duty of care and leaving customers satisfied that their vehicles, and personal safety, are being properly taken care of, this will help boost customer loyalty towards your dealership.
A straightforward online booking process will help your dealership stand out from the cloud and gain a competitive edge over independent garages who tend to operate in a more analogue way. Ensure your website is up to date and professional, as well as having mobile compatibility so customers receive a seamless experience no matter what their access point.
Take a customer perspective
Recent research revealed that trust and approachability rank among the top factors for motorists when it comes to choosing between franchised dealerships and independent garages. It is important to give technicians proper training in how to converse effectively and how to deliver the most appropriate solutions, tailored to a customer’s needs. When service advisors see the value in what they’re selling from the customer’s perspective, it presents a more ethical and effective way of boosting the sale of red and amber work. Building a genuine rapport with a motorist can be central to delivering a positive experience and the reassurance that customers are being treated fairly.
Implement a customer-centric mindset where you imagine you are the customer and take a walk-through experience of the service you deliver to check your processes are streamlined for maximum customer comfort and convenience, especially during this peak time in demand. Using electronic vehicle health checks is one way to boost customer experience and loyalty when it comes to aftersales opportunities, whilst increasing operating efficiency within your dealership.
If you’re looking for guidance on how to expand your digital offering by implementing electronic vehicle health checks in your dealership then please get in touch.Blog