I’ve had both the pleasure & the burden of growing up in the dealership world. At one time or another, nearly every member of my family has worked in, run, owned, or sold to a dealership. As a result, I’ve learned the ins-n-outs over the years, and I’ve come to love the process. I’ve also developed a keen eye for spotting opportunities for growth and improvement. And, I’ve learned that while nothing is perfect, improvement is about progress not perfection.

Technology is one key element that has improved immensely over the years. Processes big and small have become easier, more accurate, and often times automated. Does that make management easier? Hell No! This industry grows and adapts so rapidly that only the strong will survive and thrive. What does not change though? Relationships. Pure and simple. Building and maintaining relationships have always been and will always be the key ingredients for growth and success.

Studies have shown the number one factor contributing to increasing RO value is the physical face-to-face time spent with a service advisor. That’s correct, it’s about building a relationship based off of time and trust that allows your service advisors to sell more service. If you’re reading this, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, understanding and reacting to that fact is only half the battle. The other half relies on what you’re doing to expose more visitors to more profit opportunities. So, what are you doing?

Are you keeping them informed about all that you have to offer? How? Through what means are you engaging your guests? How are you influencing positive behavior? I sure hope you aren’t just scheduling appointments via the phone or your online scheduler, then taking these appointments, letting them sit in your waiting room, and then thanking them for their business as they leave. If you are, then you’re missing the boat! You are missing the opportunities to expand profit center exposure, to foster relationship building between your service advisors and guests, and to collect quality opt-ins for retargeting.

You want to look at your dealership with the same mind set and creativity as your Marketing and Advertising team does with your website. Everyone that visits is coming in at a different stage and many times have a different “customer persona.” Your job is always and will always be to ensure the following. Note: all are equally important.

Attract -> Convert -> Close ->Delight

Running in parallel to this are the lifecycle stages of people in your store.

Strangers -> Guests -> Prospects -> Customers -> Promoters

Strangers are fresh and new. They are coming in thanks to a referral or were attracted by something from your marketing efforts. Great Job!

Guests have visited before or are at least familiar with your brand. They like something about what you have to offer, so they have returned. You’ve peaked their interest and they likely already have or are developing a need that you can fulfill.

Prospects are leads in a purchasing position. They know and trust you enough to want to give you their business.

We all know what Customers are.

Promoters are your fans, your loyal following. They are the people who rave about their experience and who refer anyone and everyone they know!

Take a minute and figuratively walk through your store from start to finish as a visitor. Starting on the phone, waiting on hold. 70% of your future floor traffic originates from the phone, so that’s a great starting point.

How are you greeted when you arrive? What are you greeted with? What do you see and hear inside the service lounge. How are you being engaged? What is the dealership showing you? What are you watching or listening to? When you leave – what did you leave with? Are you more informed about what differentiates this dealership from the one down the street?

I’d be willing to bet that after going through this hypothetical exercise, you’ll see ample opportunity to create more opportunities and excuses to get customers in front of a service advisor. I’m confident that you’ll find a multitude of reasons to introduce them to areas of your store they may not otherwise be thinking about. Just because a guest is coming in for one purpose, doesn’t mean they only have one interest. Use your service lounge as a hub to promote cross-channel marketing. Take advantage of the time you have to talk to them about what makes you unique – from social media, mobile marketing, community outreach, opt-in on mobile coupons, online surveys, future courses or service clinics.

Technology and trends will come and go. Even the platform through which your guests want to be advertised to and communicated with will change, but one thing never will. Relationships. Building better relationships within your service drive will surely lead to increasing average RO.

“Everyone wants to go where someone knows their name.”



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