Selling Service

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Introducing new customers to the department

Selling and service are two words that don't mix well for most service department employees I know. I guess it's because the "techy-type" people who are drawn to service usually find it easier to relate to an inanimate motorcycle than to live customers. Just consider how many times you've seen a technician swearing at a bike or pleading with it to fix itself, and you'll agree.

Problem is, with shops around the country experiencing flat or declining sales, that means selling your service department is more important than ever. And if history is our guide, the shops with a great service department are the ones that will survive and thrive in this slower market.

To grow your service business your customers need to know what you can do for them. New customers are especially important because they get a first impression only once. A "new customer" can be a new or used vehicle buyer or someone just new to the store. To start the relationship off right the store should have a new customer orientation program that includes introducing the newbie to a rep from each retail department. That way the customer learns about your products and services while making a personal connection in each department.

What service needs to communicate is its ability to meet and exceed customer expectations when it comes to maintenance, repairs and modifications. The icing on the cake is the special services your shop offers, like engine hop-ups, suspension modifications or customizations. Usually the service writer performs the presentation and shop tour, but that's not written in stone.

To prepare you'll need an outline: the information that tells why your service department is the best place to get vehicles maintained, repaired and enhanced. Your presentation outline can be created by answering the following questions:

  • How many technicians do you have and what are their credentials? List their level of training, their on-the-job experience and their dollar investment in tools. Interview your techs for this info. Make sure that your techs are within earshot when you're bragging about them to customers. You'll be surprised how that can improve your internal relationships.
  • What special equipment has your shop invested in and what can you do with it? For example, you have a dyno and you can perform the best fuel injection tuning in town, or you have a new tire changer that prevents damage to custom wheels. Tell customers that the key reason you bought this equipment was to enhance customer service.
  • How do you protect the customer's vehicle? Examples: Use of tank and fender covers, the gloves the techs wear to prevent scratches, or the covered trailer used for pickups.
  • What special services or treatments do you offer? Examples I've seen in the field are a quick-lube lane to provide while-you-wait oil changes; Internet scheduling where customers can make appointments online; a free motorcycle wash or free gasoline with routine services; pickup and delivery of the motorcycle, the rider or both; and customer rewards that accumulate with each service event.
  • What is your service department particularly good at? It may be engine building, dyno tuning, suspension modification, show bike customization, electronics diagnosis, or audio systems customization.
  • What tips can you give customers to make their experience more enjoyable? Examples: Explain how to check tire pressure, oil levels, and a belt or chain, or how to break in a new or rebuilt engine. Recommend surface care products.

With this info outlined you'll have a professional presentation that can make a terrific first impression of your service department. Here are a few additional thoughts: Have two or more employees trained to do the presentations so you're covered at all times. Enforce a "best behavior" policy when touring customers through the service department. Finally, consider giving customers a gift for their time to meet you. This could be as simple as a tire pressure gauge. That, along with a friendly presentation, will be remembered and rewarded.

Dave Koshollek teaches sales and service classes for dealership personnel. His career includes stints as a service manager, Dynojet VP and director of technical training at MMI. E-mail him at DAKOenterprises@cs.com.