Keeping High-mileage Customers Over the Long Haul

An article in Automotive News written by Donna Harris, (http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111107/RETAIL07/311079996/1147) has some very interesting points.

We hear from dealerships that with the economy in the shape that it is in these days, many people are putting off trading-in their old cars and electing to pocket their car-payment money. This means that instead of buying new cars, they are more likely to repair their old, high-mileage vehicle. It also means that dealerships are going to have to change their strategies in the service department.

In the past, dealerships would find an expensive car repair on an older vehicle and push the customer to “have a look around the lot” instead of repairing the car. But with more people adamant about avoiding a car payment, that is a foolish strategy. Owners of high mileage cars may not even be able to afford a car payment and may resent the sales push. They may be tempted to take their repairs elsewhere to avoid the hassle.

The one guarantee that owners of high-mileage cars have is that their vehicle is going to need repairs and maintenance. To get their loyalty, the dealership must make every encounter with them a positive one. Dealers must respect that when a customer says he wants a repair instead of a newer car, they mean exactly that.

Customers must also be able to trust that the service department is going to fix what needs fixing, without the mechanics padding the bill to make up for a sluggish workday. Taking the customer out to the car and showing him exactly what is going wrong with the car can build trust. Showing the owner the wear on his serpentine belt assures him that it really does need to be changed before it breaks and leaves him stranded. Reveal to her the difference between a brand new air filter and the dirty one on her car. These types of techniques demonstrate that a service department puts customer relationships before money and will generate repeat business.

Service departments can gain business by keeping track of the scheduled maintenance on a vehicle. Calling or e-mailing a customer when their oil change is due will help the customer keep track of such things. Customers will be more likely to come to the dealership when they are called and reminded. And they will be less likely to run through a 29.99 oil change place because the oil change is due and they have not made an appointment at the service department.

Customers like it when dealerships follow-up on repairs to make sure the car is running properly. This can ensure that the customer will come back next time they need maintenance or repairs. For more suggestions on training techniques that will create loyalty in customers and generate repeat business in the service department, visit http://dealerserviceacademy.com/.

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