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How Dealers Use Service Contracts to Strengthen Customer Relationships

As the technology on recreational vehicles grows more complex, components become more complicated to fix. When customers buy a new vehicle, they may not anticipate the high cost of maintenance and repair.

Mechanical failures happen — and they’re not exactly the high point of owning a recreational or powersports vehicle. No motorcycle enthusiast is going to have good memories of that time a mechanical problem took them off the road, but by offering a service contract over and above the manufacturer’s warranty, dealers have the opportunity to take care of their customers during these times, get them back on the road quickly and make the experience a little less painful.

Here’s how dealers are using service contracts to strengthen their relationships with customers:

Informing the Customer

As the technology on recreational vehicles grows more complex, components become more complicated to fix. When customers buy a new vehicle, they may not anticipate the high cost of maintenance and repair.

Many people believe they already have adequate protection in the form of an OEM warranty or their own insurance, but there are serious limitations to these protections — which customers often don’t realize until something breaks down.

Service contracts have become more important than ever in protecting the customer from high repair costs if a component fails. Educating customers about their importance is a valuable service that dealers can provide.

Offering a Great Experience

Every time a customer walks in the door for a maintenance checkup or repair, you have the opportunity to make a positive impression.

That’s not always easy. One issue dealerships face is in mitigating the traditional “tough guy” atmosphere that’s so much a part of our industry and making their spaces more welcoming and inclusive for everyone.

We’ve seen dealers address this challenge in a number of creative ways — by installing coffee shops and cafés, lounge areas and even museums devoted to vintage motorcycles and other vehicles.

Social media can also help in creating a welcoming community before your customers walk in the door. We’ve seen dealerships use various platforms to boost engagement and conversation among a broader audience — and implement strategies to entice people to visit in person.

Delivering Excellent Service

While some dealerships offer their own service contracts, most work with a partner company, but the customer still goes through the dealership to file a claim.

That means your partner’s customer service is your customer service — and their practices will reflect on you. It’s crucial to partner with a company that makes customer service a priority.

There are a number of things to look for in choosing a service contract provider — and a quick turnaround on claims is one of them. The faster your customer gets back on the road, the better their experience. Ideally, your provider can review claims within 24 hours or so.

When a bike has a mechanical problem, customers can be stranded —and when this happens, it’s important to make them feel taken care of. Look for a provider that offers extra services such as roadside assistance, pickup and drop-off, loaner bikes and even coverage for rental car costs.

Service contract providers have a business-to-business relationship with dealers that often gets passed on to their customers. The standard for service should be “above and beyond” if you want to strengthen those customer relationships.

Helping Customers Get More Out of Their Vehicles

A service contract extends the time a customer gets to spend with their vehicle without worrying about a mechanical failure. Some providers offer service contracts from 12 to 60 months beyond the OEM warranty.

A comprehensive maintenance program is a great way to keep your customers on their bikes longer. A trained technician can recommend pre-emptive maintenance based on their knowledge of the machine and access to factory service bulletins. Follow-up calls and Customer Service Index surveys can help keep customers engaged after the service visit.

Your customers want to spend as much time as they can enjoying their vehicle. Ideally, everything your service contract provider does will be geared toward helping your customer get back on the road as fast as possible in the event of a mechanical failure.

There’s no question that service contracts provide an important revenue stream for dealers, but they really prove their value when dealerships and service contract providers work hand-in-hand to deliver a great experience that keeps customers coming back in the dealership door. That’s good business for everyone.

Link: McGraw Powersports

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