Grow Your RO - Retention Challenges in Fixed Operations

Attracting new customers to the service department has always been a priority for car dealers, but keeping those customers coming back time and again is what really sets a dealership apart. Some of our esteemed dealer partners sat down with us to discuss retention and what helps them earn customer loyalty in fixed operations.

Tom Miller – Parts & Service Director, Ourisman Ford of Manassas

[They] haven’t really changed as a whole; I think their expectations are about the same. I do believe there are some. They were going to be adding some pressure in that respect, and I think they backed off of that idea. But we still have a lot of customers that are working from home. They’re not; they don’t need to go back to the office. And I think that’s going to be a long-term effect that we’re going to have to deal with. Another reason we are expanding our pick-up and delivery services and we also are expanding mobile service to reach out to those people that just they don’t need to go to work. So we’ll just go to them and take care of their needs there. Our pickup and delivery grew considerably over the last eight months, so that leads to another problem. I don’t have drivers available to really go get these cars like we would like. So we’ve had to resort to using Uber in a lot of cases to get a driver out to a customer to be able to pick up the vehicle and vice versa. So it’s another challenge, but it’s something we’re striving to do to meet.

Michaela Reardon – Service Manager, Checkered Flag Toyota

We’re we’re still actually we’re still faring quite well. We’re in the top ten as far as retention within our district here at Checkers. And I mean, I believe part part of it, you know, is just due to the great customer care that we give. We have a lot of long term customers that even though they are driving less, they are still coming in to see us. And, you know, we’re driving new customers in to see us that have never been here before.

We stay in constant contact with our customers to the point that they say, ‘hey, I’m not ready yet, I haven’t driven enough Miles.’ We’re like, ‘Well, that’s great. Thanks. Thanks for checking in with us and we look forward to seeing you when your you know, when you get to the mileage or the time to come into service.’

Even if you aren’t driving, we need to see you at least once per year. We understand if you don’t want to come in for that, what we call interval service, which is every 5000 miles, but we have to see it once a year.

Rusty Gold – Service Manager, Ganley Chevrolet

You know what? I use, GM has a system. I don’t know who they use, but that’s what I have to depend on is what they’re looking at. And they tell me they see all of my job cards, so they can see that Mr. Face hasn’t been back, and why. And then we can look when my rep comes in, we can talk about, it’s like well look at the mileage. They’re not driving anymore. They don’t need. Anything.

car repair supply chain

Andrew Nevling – Fixed Operations Manager, Great Lakes Honda West

We use Xtime, we use… our DMS, Honda, have Honda link-based work reports. We go through there. I have my lost souls list. I have a BDC that pulls reports almost daily from my DMS to see who we haven’t seen in over nine months to reach out to them. Beyond those metrics, it’s hard for me because I have so many different avenues I have to go through to pull out info. If I had some sort of central database, somebody that I can go to and be like, Hey, I need somebody to go through my DMS and go through my interactive network, through Honda and pull the report and show, even if I can integrate somehow through Carfax or something to show sure were they going somewhere else? Why did I lose them? Can I bring them back as opposed to just pulling all the reports in multiple different areas?

Chris Shillinger – Service Director, Metro Toyota

I mean, visits, retention, as we call it in the industry, a click. When the customer comes in, we get a retention click, and Toyota’s all over that. So, I don’t really have to have my own formula. Toyota lets me know once a week what my retention is. But you know, we have such a good customer base that I don’t have a whole lot of problems. It’s fallen off a little bit due to the fact that I’m getting more customers from other dealers, and, you know, it depends on when they come in, and they come in right now; I’m not going to get a second click on them, you know, So that makes it a little more challenging. But I’ll take the extra work, you know? Sure. But yeah, that’s how we measure it. Toyota, you know, measures it for me pretty much. And they let me know where my retention is and how we’re doing.

Ralph Wilson – President, Classic Buick GMC

Well, we use your company for a lot of it. We can tell who’s aging, who’s missing, who’s coming back after a period of time. So that’s primarily what we use. GM has some metrics for us as well.

Don Shaffer – Fixed Operations Director

Well, you know, the manufacturers are kind of on over the board. You know, some of them are one visit within 12 months, others are two visits within 12 months. We’re using their metrics to really gauge on on retention. And I think that they’ve adjusted some of their matrix because they know driving has changed. So CSI was always the biggest thing. And then a lot of manufacturers like Toyota went through. We’re not really concerned about CSI. We’re really concerned about retention. And, you know, with our auto group, where we’re located at Pennsylvania is not that far away. A lot of people on that side will come to us because of our pricing or of our marketing. But getting them back in for routine maintenance is a struggle. I mean, even with our free maintenance programs that we put in with our used cars as well, if they’re more than an hour away, they’re not going to come to us for maintenance. So retention is kind of a struggle is we’ve got to take much better care of our customer, how we interact with them, the customers views of dealing with service in general when it comes to automotive, it’s always kind of been negative. In today’s day and age with videos everywhere and you know, a lot of people think that they know how to properly maintain their vehicle, but they come to us for a reason, and we have to show them and deliver that that type of expert service. Customers today, I think, want… even though everyone’s fixated on their phone, I think when they actually go in for service, they want to have a relationship. They want to have an interaction, a positive interaction with somebody. So we have to make that happen because a lot of times, as we know in this industry, they come in with a very negative feeling and we have to accept that and do everything we can to change that. Positive interactions, positive customer experiences equals a customer wanting to stay with you and will equal higher hours per hour over a better ELR and more growth.

Chad Blair – Fixed Operations Director, South Tacoma Honda

You know, this is a great topic. The only thing we really do go by it the factory Honda retention report. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it is, you know, it’s something that we have struggled with and want to continue to try to do better. I would love to have, you know, a non-factory, something that’s integrated with our system that can, you know, report on a monthly basis. They can build a report to tell you retention. It’s challenging, at least here, because we only have that one report to go on. And not to say that the factory reports are wrong, but we’ve done a lot of things, and you know, just the reporting you would think would follow it, and it hasn’t much. So, at the same time, we are in an area that retention is one of the challenging points. We have a military base that’s, you know, miles away. So, you know… anyone in the military is deployed will come and go. And it makes it challenging to retain them.

Maribel Martinez – Service Manager, Volkswagen of Kirkland

I mean, I really feel that if somebody wants to come service their Volkswagen at our store, they’re going to come to our store because they like us, because they like the work we do. And, you know, I hope that it’s our service team that keeps them coming back because, I mean, we strive to do the right jobs each time. Yeah, just like anybody else. Government mistakes from time to time. We are humans, too. But when you make a mistake, it’s also what you do to correct it and how you take care of it. You know, anytime we make mistakes, I want to make sure I’m involved. I want to make sure that I know what happened. I want to be involved in the solution. And I want to be the first one to apologize to that guest. You know, I don’t want them to think that we’re like purposely not taking the extra steps, not doing the right thing. You know, any time somebody does something that’s not right, they’re going to end up in my office, and they’re going to talk to me about it. You know?

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