Successful Sales to Service Handoff Process

To be successful, an automotive dealership must sell more than just vehicles.  It must sell the entire dealership.  After all, vehicle sales alone do not keep a dealership afloat. Mastering the sales to service handoff process is imperative to dealership success.

Other departments play a huge role in financially safeguarding the dealer. This is especially true in times of declining car sales.  The service department takes the lead in this area and is the true profit machine for a dealership.  Therefore dealers should not ignore the service drive in the car buying and selling process.

Successful Sales to Service Handoff Process

When purchasing a car, the salesperson should see their sales customer as a future service customer.  The customer should get the impression that sales teams and service teams are one and the same, and they work together as an overall customer success team.

To achieve this in the short amount of time a customer is present in the dealership, the service and sales teams must be a well-oiled machine (pardon the pun) when it comes to a good handoff.

7 Important Steps to a Smooth Sales to Service Handoff Process

#1 Plan, Coordinate, Educate

Customer success does not come without a well-coordinated plan.  This plan should be detailed and choreographed in the sales and service playbooks.  Each member of each side of the team should know the expectations of new customer interactions and handoffs.

Customer success managers and other leaders should sell their team on why this process is so important to the dealership and that each team member is crucial to its success.

#2 Rehearse for your time in the spotlight

A successful handoff will not occur if it feels robotic or forced.  Your team must literally rehearse the entire process; script and all.  The dealership is your stage, and your team members are the performers. 

Practice running the whole process with one team member playing the role of the customer.  The more times your crew can walk through the process the more comfortable they’ll be when working with actual customers.

#3 The sales team tees it up

The sales process sets the tone for the entire onboarding process.  If the customer’s experience isn’t positive from the moment they step out of their car, it’ll be difficult to get them on board for the rest of the ride. 

Sales and service teams must maintain a symbiotic relationship. A sales rep should focus on the sale of the vehicle but should also sell the customer on how the dealership can best serve them in the future. 

The thought process should not be “how can I best sell a customer?” Instead, it should be “how can I best serve a customer?”  This approach usually sells itself, and it sets the rest of the team up for success in the delivery process.

#4 Give the five-star tour

As with any tour guide, the sales reps should be enthusiastic and passionate. They should educate the customer about what the dealership provides in all its departments and facilities. 

As the tour moves on, all team members must do their part to create a pleasant and inviting experience.  The culture of the dealership is revealed here. It can either encourage or discourage the customer’s return for maintenance and repairs.

#5 Meet the service team

This is a big moment!  Customers might return for their future car buying needs, but this moment will help them decide if they’ll return for their vehicle’s service needs.

Introduce them to a service team leader. This team leader should be on cue with their reception of this introduction. Remember, a customer’s time and attention span are limited, so this encounter should be brief but shouldn’t feel rushed.

#6 Sell the why

As we’ve discussed in other posts, consumers have 3 main objections to using dealerships for their vehicle services. 

  1. Dealership services are too expensive
  2. Dealerships are not close enough to their home or office
  3. They’ve had a poor experience with a dealership in the past.

Take this opportunity to address these objections and sell them on the value they’ll get by using the dealership over an aftermarket option.

#7 Schedule their first appointment

Make their decision to return an easy one.  Offer to schedule the appointment before guiding the customer out of the service department. Follow this up with reminder phone calls, or even better, an app that automates maintenance scheduling and reminders.

If your company offers such an app, take the time to walk the customer through downloading and using it.  This will increase the chances they will use it going forward.


A dealer’s long-term success is dependent on a coordinated effort by all sales and service team members in the handoff process.  This process is made easier by planning and practicing.

But once this process is complete, there is still work to do.  Every time a customer enters your service line, the service should feel like the day they first entered. This is what keeps them coming back again and again.  This is what keeps your dealer top of mind for the customer’s next car purchase.

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