Dealer Management Alert: Here’s a Guide for “How Appraisals in Your Service Department Can Help Sell More Vehicles”

Edi­to­r­i­al Note from AIN Media: This doc­u­ment is real­ly a com­pre­hen­sive guide on “How Your Ser­vice Depart­ment can Help Sell More Vehi­cles” by cre­at­ing a process in your deal­er­ship to gain & pro­duce appraisals while cus­tomer vehi­cles are in the ser­vice land and thus pro­duce pos­si­ble vehi­cle sales leads for the dealership’s sales team.

From Ser­vice Dri­ve to Show­room: Dri­ving Leads from the Lift

It’s Sat­ur­day. You walk into your local ware­house store (Cost­co, BJ’s, Sam’s Club) on a mis­sion to pick up two things and two things only – paper tow­els and bot­tled water. An hour lat­er you’re load­ing up your car with 27 items.
How did that hap­pen?

Well, you walked past the frozen foods sec­tion on your way to bot­tled water and there she was, the free sam­ple lady. So you grabbed a deli­cious bite which prompt­ed you to buy the whole she­bang for dinner…and then you noticed the pic­nic cool­er you’ve been eye­ing for two months which is sud­den­ly on sale, and so on and so forth.

Are you upset you bought so much? No, you’re not, because you feel like you just got a deal.

Now what on earth does that have to do with Ser­vice Dri­ve appraisals? Every­thing! A ser­vice cus­tomer is the most inex­pen­sive UP in your deal­er­ship – they came to you and they want a free sam­ple. By mak­ing ser­vice dri­ve appraisals part of your process, you can hook your cus­tomers on a free sam­ple (a strong appraisal val­u­a­tion) and send them home with more than they came for – a new ride.

The key to mak­ing this an effec­tive and effi­cient strat­e­gy for your deal­er­ship is by set­ting up a process that you live and die by. This process should include the fol­low­ing:

1. Get buy-in from your staff to imple­ment a live or die process.
2. Be dis­crim­i­nate by apprais­ing the right cars.
3. Engage with your cus­tomers – sales inter­ac­tion is impor­tant!

Let’s take a deep­er dive into cre­at­ing a process to make ser­vice dri­ve appraisals suc­cess­ful in your deal­er­ship.
Get buy-in from your staff.

You’re attempt­ing to sell a vehi­cle to a cus­tomer who wasn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly in the mar­ket for one, which means it’s cru­cial to have engage­ment from your staff who believe and buy into the process. That starts by estab­lish­ing clear guide­lines so that sales and ser­vice work in har­mo­ny.

Does the ser­vice writer per­form the appraisal or does a sales­per­son? Every deal­er­ship oper­ates dif­fer­ent­ly, but in our expe­ri­ence, it’s impor­tant to put peo­ple in the roles at which they excel. In this case, let the ser­vice writer focus on pro­vid­ing the best qual­i­ty ser­vice to the cus­tomer and add on an ear­ly morn­ing sales­per­son to do just that – sell! Sales­peo­ple who are assigned to the ser­vice dri­ve love it because, well, they get every UP. Most impor­tant­ly, be sure to incen­tivize your ser­vice writer by com­pen­sat­ing him / her for busi­ness they’re dri­ving to sales.

Appraise the right cars.
Any come­di­an or pub­lic speak­er will tell you that read­ing the crowd is cru­cial. That same rule applies here. Not every joke works for every crowd, and nei­ther does blind­ly apprais­ing every unit that rolls into your ser­vice dri­ve.

Be sure to do your home­work. Did the cus­tomer buy the unit from your store two weeks ago? If so, why are they in for ser­vice so soon? Did the cus­tomer just lease this unit six months ago? Then they will prob­a­bly have a hard time get­ting out of the lease so ear­ly. Is the cus­tomer in your CRM with mul­ti­ple vis­its to the sales floor recent­ly but no pur­chase on record? Speak to the sales­per­son to find out why they couldn’t buy. When you scan the VIN of the ser­vice dri­ve unit, does it appear show­ing it’s been appraised at your deal­er­ship before? If so, how long ago? What was the appraisal amount? What did the car need then?

Remem­ber to be selec­tive in which ser­vice dri­ve units you appraise so you don’t dig your­self into a cus­tomer ser­vice grave. Know your audi­ence.
Engage in cus­tomer inter­ac­tion.

It’s impor­tant for sales to engage ser­vice cus­tomers in a con­sul­ta­tive way, ensur­ing the best trade and replace­ment vehi­cle buy­ing expe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. Be sure the sales per­son­nel you select to work the ser­vice dri­ve are well versed and com­fort­able in these three areas:

1. Appraisals.
A qual­i­fied sales­per­son needs to be able to spot dam­age, pri­or repairs, paint­work, etc. as well as com­mu­ni­cate with the ser­vice staff to gath­er nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion about mechan­i­cal issues. In addi­tion, the sales­per­son must be able to com­mu­ni­cate all of this in a way that makes the cus­tomer engaged as opposed ver­sus frus­trat­ed that you’re cri­tiquing their vehi­cle.

2. Offers.
Have all your resources ready to make a great offer with an assump­tive close. Know what the ser­vice bill is, or is expect­ed to be. Use this knowl­edge to find an excel­lent replace­ment vehi­cle on your lot. Are they a Yan­kees fan? Guide them to that Yan­kee blue SUV on your front line.

3. Fol­low up.
Didn’t get the close while they were on your lot? No wor­ries. They didn’t arrive at your deal­er­ship intend­ing to buy a car – but fol­low up is cru­cial! Inquire as to whether or not they were pleased with the appraisal val­ue you quot­ed. Offer to have their vehi­cle inde­pen­dent­ly val­ued by a third par­ty orga­ni­za­tion. Did they see any­thing else on your lot that they liked or were inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about? Keep your eyes peeled for fresh trades or oth­er ser­vice dri­ve units that match their wish list. The bot­tom line? Keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open.

Megan Mahon is Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions for The Appraisal Lane. Vis­it or down­load The Appraisal Lane app from the App Store (iPhone/iPad) or Google Play (Android). For imme­di­ate inquiries about The Appraisal Lane, email [email protected]



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