Many dealers feel they’ve made great strides in improving their customer service through hiring quality staff and better training, but that hasn’t translated into an increase in their share of visits to their service lanes. Consumers, especially millennials, are just as likely to take their vehicle to an independent general repair facility as they are to their selling dealership for maintenance and repairs.

We’ve seen this trend at dealerships across North America. We try to impress upon our clients and prospects the importance of personal connection with their customers to build relationships, but sometimes they just don’t take notice. Sending customers service reminders, preventive maintenance tips, and assisting with online scheduling, lets the customer know you are working on their behalf. Connecting seamlessly through websites, online apps, and other technologies makes this easier, cost-effective, and builds personal relationships that enhance customer satisfaction.

The Cox Automotive 2018 Service Industry Study backs up what we’ve seen and have discussed with our clients for the past few years. The study found that if customers did return to the selling dealership in the first 12 months, 74 percent of them said they were “likely” to return to that dealership for their next vehicle purchase vs. only 35 percent who did not return for service in that first year.

Getting that customer to connect with your service department can mean millions of dollars in gross profit for dealers. The Service Study found that the 70 percent of customers who did not return to the selling dealership for service in the first 12 months translates into $266 billion in lost revenue — $15.9 million per dealership. If you could claw back just 20 percent of that revenue, that’s more than $3 million or $250,000 a month! That’s a quarter million a month (or much, much more) you are missing out on from customers you already have a relationship with and sold a vehicle to, and they need the services you provide.

The Connected Dealer Services (CDS) platform was designed by and for auto dealers. It automates business processes, helps to improve CSI scores and drives more revenue back into the dealership. Once a car is sold, it connects the dealer to the consumer throughout the lifetime of ownership of the car. The connected technology monitors a vehicle’s mileage. When service mileage milestones are reached, both the dealership and the consumer are notified. In the event a check engine light is triggered, dealers are notified, and service advisors can instantly reach out to the consumer to notify them of the need to have the vehicle serviced.

Proactive connectivity like this builds relationships. Consumers take notice of the efforts you put forth on their behalf to save them time, money, and lets them know their safety and security have top-of-mind importance with your team. Dealerships can also promote seasonal specials, bundled service savings or free safety inspections that will keep them satisfied, coming back to buy again, and make them more willing to refer family and friends.

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