With the new year, dealers are looking for new opportunities to maximize their sales and retention efforts. Working together with our dealer partners in the field, Team Mastermind has encouraged a growing number of sales and service teams to discover many of those opportunities in their service drive – even if they weren’t immediately obvious.
As we entered 2021, our team set out to empower more dealers to “crack the code” on working their service drive during our first virtual workshop event. During the two-hour workshop and panel discussion, dealers learned how to unlock the full potential of their service drive with a data-driven service-to-sales strategy – and a well-managed process with support from the top down.
While this strategy will look a bit different across dealerships, both our dealer panel and Mastermind experts agree that a few best practices are critical to service-to-sales success. In this blog post, we share four ways dealers have cracked the code on working the service drive, including:
- Crafting a strategy to work the service drive based on their dealership’s needs
- Supporting that service drive strategy with a winning team
- Leveraging modern tools to appeal to new consumer buying behaviors
- Proactively promoting long-term loyalty through the service drive
Craft a Plan Fit for Your Dealership
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach,” was a theme weaved throughout the afternoon from the start of the presentation. When talking to dealers, Mastermind Senior Director of Partner Performance Ian Grace explained the first step to cracking the code on working the service drive was building a service conquest strategy that works for your dealership.
Ian instructed dealers to define their process and look for areas of improvement by asking questions such as:
- How many service RO’s are you doing per month?
- How many people are needed to support selling in the service drive?
- What is your current market share?
These findings will ultimately help dictate your service-to-sales process, Ian explained, including setting the stage for creating appropriate goals and objectives. While this plan will differ from dealership to dealership, success in the service drive will still almost always come down to a few factors:
- Knowing your service customers’ history and buying motivations
- Presenting the right offer, at the right time, in the right way
- Having the right people – and the right technology – in place to make this process consistent and efficient
Building a Winning Team
Even with a solid strategy in place, breaking down departmental barriers to promote a consistently excellent customer experience is critical to the success of your service-to-sales process, Ian later explained. This ultimately starts from the top down with a well-managed process, driven by strong leadership.
The entire dealership, from the general manager to the service advisors, need to understand and contribute to the service drive selling process. Simply put, your sales and service departments need to work hand-in-hand to ensure no opportunities are lost. To help facilitate this, Ian recommended a few best practices for aligning your dealership teams:
- Clearly outline goals and expectations for every member of your team
- Ensure each department is aware of which vehicles are in-demand and would be best to acquire
- Make service drive sales part of every sales meeting
Leverage Modern Tools & Technology
“What’s worked in the past won’t necessarily work now,” Mastermind VP of Enterprise Account Tomy Szczypiorski reminded attendees during the workshop. In today’s new consumer first-era, dealers can’t afford to just look at every upcoming service appointment as a pending sales opportunity. Not only could this seriously affect your CSI, but it’s also inefficient and costly.
Consumer behaviors and expectations are changing, Tomy explained, and for dealers to keep pace and , they need the right tools and insights – beyond the data in your dealership’s DMS.
The backbone to a successful, modern service-to-sales strategy are advanced technology and tools that utilize dealership insights, as well as high-quality external data, to predict which prospects are reaching a point where they will likely begin shopping for a new vehicle soon, explained Tomy.
Proactive dealerships are using these advanced tools to engage potential buyers in their service drives, meeting them at major crossroads in their lives rather than hoping that same person eventually discovers the dealership on their own. Utilizing data means tapping into factors that motivate each prospect’s purchase decisions and developing specific messaging that relates to their needs.
Using this method, three of our dealer partners have added more than 94,000 entirely new service-not-sold customer opportunities to their portfolio, Tomy shared with attendees.
Proactively Promote Long-Term Dealership Loyalty
Mastermind data finds customers who serviced with a dealer were just over 2.5x more likely to purchase their subsequent vehicle from the same retailer – a powerful figure that echoed through the workshop.
A crucial aspect to any dealership’s long-term success is creating and capitalizing on service drive loyalty. Service customers are widely known as the most profitable sales, and developing loyal customers means preventing them from becoming a conquest victory for your competition.
During the workshop, Ian and Tomy explained long-term loyalty begins with your very first customer touchpoint, emphasizing the critical importance of data-driven messaging. During the second half of the presentation, we heard from dealer partners who took various approaches at promoting retention through the service drive, including text service reminders, leave-behind gifts – and always keeping their communications consistent.
In ever-evolving times, no dealer should leave their success up to chance. Cracking the code on your service drive comes down to creating a data-driven process that works for your dealership and supporting that process by putting the right people and tools in place.