Merchandise your write-up area

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Want to make your job easier, make your customers happier and increase sales all at the same time? The answer lies in two words — service merchandising. The reason it works so well is because your service department enjoys a steady flow of customers coming in for maintenance and repairs. And those customers provide an opportunity in which to promote the services and accessories that make their ride more dependable and more enjoyable.

It’s funny, then, that so many shops do nothing to merchandise their write-up area. Or if they do, they have the same set of ported-and-polished heads sitting in a display case for months, sometimes years. That means the service adviser has to ask a lot of questions to learn what might make the customer’s ride more fun and what the upsells might be. I don’t know about you, but I like to sell the easy way by displaying accessories and signage that whet the customer’s appetite. With such displays, the best-case scenario is customers will come to you asking for something by name. The worst case is that they will learn what you can do for them in the way of accessorization and special services — and that seeds business for the future.

If you agree, then the following should give you some ideas on how to increase service sales by displaying smarter and saying less.

Display seasonally appropriate products. One has to ask if it makes sense to display stroker flywheels during the summer when service is setting appointments for oil changes three weeks out. The idea is simple: During busy times when service capacity is full, display accessories and advertise the services that take a half-hour or less to complete. That way, when the customer is motivated to add something to the repair order, it won’t throw your daily schedule into chaos. That said, if the customer wants stroker flywheels, find a way to sell them stroker flywheels.

Here are some examples of appropriate products. Before a ride-to event like Daytona or Sturgis, promote “Get Ready” services like tire and oil changes and display accessories such as highway pegs, luggage, saddlebags, security chains and windshields that are popular for riders taking overnight trips. When rolling into the fall season, advertise your winter storage services, engine rebuilds and/or engine enhancements, battery chargers and fuel stabilizers. In spring be ready for battery sales and light services to get vehicles road-ready again. You get the idea — display what’s most popular at any given time. You’ll be surprised at the bump in sales that will result.

Free installs are always a big draw. It’s a good idea to have a “Free Installation with Service” display to motivate people to add a little something to their order. It’s kind of like the “Do you want fries with that?” line.

Accessories like ornamental covers, seats, digital dipsticks, stick-on decals, mirrors, upgraded air or oil filters and smoked taillight and turn signal lenses are just a few. Change the display monthly to keep it fresh.

Interactive displays are especially motivational. I know one shop in Florida that increased its sales of LED taillights by 1,000 percent just by putting an interactive display on the counter where every customer could push the button. The counter guy capitalized on that experience with the question “Pretty cool, huh?”

Go-alongs make perfect sense. I’m talking about things like lubricants, fuel treatments, polishes, do-it-yourself tools and magazines. With customers standing at the counter a minimum of five minutes per visit, their attention will be drawn to whatever’s in front of them. You can add an average of $10 to $20 dollars per R.O., which relates to a significant bump at year-end.

Show books are a great silent seller. Tattoo shops and custom painters do it and so should you. Take photos of bikes you’ve customized and put them in a binder that customers can flip through. You’ll get two benefits. First, some customers will be so impressed they’ll want to talk to you about customizing their ride. Second, all customers will get a deeper sense of the capabilities of your service department. You’ll be building your reputation without saying a word.

Cool bikes trump pictures every time. Whether it’s the store’s pre-accessorized bike or your staff’s customized ride, it makes sense to show what you sell and display your areas of expertise. That’s why I tell dealers to allow staff to store their nicely customized bikes in the store during winter to enable visual selling.

Follow the three-second rule. When creating signage for the write-up area, make sure that in a three-second glance one can understand what the subject is. Not the details so much, but what the service, special or accessory is. If the subject can’t be understood in a glance, chances are the customer will pass on reading the details, and the effort will be wasted.

Go digital with service media such as the Service Media Center offered by DCI Marketing for Harley dealers. This program utilizes a 40-, 46- or 52-inch LCD screen that rolls through a variety of full-color videos, ads and factory promotions included in the subscription. Additionally, the dealership can custom-build its service menu using the provided template and insert store specials, event ads, service reminders and product profiles. According to DCI, one out of four customers take advantage of a media-advertized promotion during their visit. That’s way better odds than Vegas!

Give you some ideas? Great! Then do me a favor; let me know what works for you by e-mailing me at the addresses below my photo. I look forward to learning about your successes.

This story originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Dealernews.