The service department’s understanding and attitude with respect to priority pre-paid maintenance will make or break the program for a dealership. The service department is the department that stands to gain the most from the proper implementation and promotion of the priority maintenance program (PPM). If you’re going to recruit your service department to “sell” the program, you have to start by selling the program to them.
First, let’s look at some of the many benefits to the service department in stores with a successful priority maintenance program.
The service department is always paid the retail rate for all priority maintenance repair orders. Any discounts that are applied to these repair orders are accounted for as an advertising expense for the store. It is some of the best money the store will ever spend on advertising. Have you explained that to your service department? Does your service manager understand that this is a valuable marketing and customer retention tool for the store?
The PPM customers are the best potential for an up-sell. They are already happy they don’t have to pay out of pocket for the service, so now is the perfect time to spend that extra money on upgrades. Are you working with your service department staff on a regular basis to train them on up-selling? Are you having someone else help you out with that task?
The PPM customers can be a great source of work during slow periods. Is your service staff using the PPM customer base to fill in the gaps in your schedule? Are you keeping a log of PPM customer activity and follow-up efforts?
The service department staff has an opportunity to make a decent spiff for selling the PPM program to customers who are in for their first service but declined to purchase PPM at the time of the vehicle sale. This simple step is a gold mine for dealerships and the service department staff if the culture is built. Are you being greedy with the spiff? Does your service staff understand the value of retaining a customer?
Often, the service department staff was not part of the behind-the-scenes discussions that led up to implementing a priority maintenance program and don’t see the benefits from the customer’s perspective. More often, the individual who implemented the program did not do a good job explaining the benefits from the customer’s perspective.
Many of the successful priority maintenance programs in stores offer the following benefits:
• The customer receives a substantial discount off of the retail labor and parts on regular scheduled maintenance. In most stores, this represents 25 to 40 percent off the retail rate. What customer doesn’t want to save money? Who’s going to tell you they’re not going to do the maintenance?
• The customer gets priority scheduling for routine maintenance. In most stores, the PPM customer is moved to the front of the line.
• The customer gets a free gift. Depending on the profitability built into the pricing structure, dealerships have been known to give anything from a free tire to free winter storage and everything in between.
• The customer gets the peace of mind that they have a place where they will be taken care of. Don’t you want to be that place?
The priority maintenance program is a valuable tool for customer satisfaction and retention in a dealership. There is no department that stands to gain more in the store than the service department. Yet often, the benefits to the store, the department, the customer and the individual staff member are poorly conveyed to the most important people involved in the success of the program: the service department staff.
The great news is that this is easy to fix. Set up a meeting with the staff to discuss the benefits to everyone. Remind everyone of the potential spiffs available. Emphasize the expectation of the process that will be used to promote the program during and after the bike sales and at the counter. Role-play the sales scenarios with the staff at the counter. Track the results. Hold regular PPM huddles to emphasize the successes and coach the opportunities.
RPMOne is a leading provider of F&I products and dealer development services dedicated to serving the powersports market. Due to its comprehensive experience with dealerships, lenders and insurance companies, RPMOne has created top-tier F&I programs, web-based tools, training programs, and sales and marketing systems to meet the unique demands of the industry. The RPMOne mission is to increase client profit to its fullest potential. Got questions or comments? Send an email to [email protected].