Maintenance from Your Door | Tips for using valet service and repair to drive fixed ops revenue

May 1, 2020
The Autotrader Team

Needless to say, the auto industry has seen enormous change in the last couple of months, but some things remain the same: Keeping service bays full is still essential for dealership profitability. You’ve likely adjusted your sales approach to make it easier for consumers to shop and buy from home. (And hopefully, you’ve seen our tips for making the most of virtual walkarounds, at-home test drives, and local home delivery.) Has your dealership taken similar steps for service and repair?

So, what about service and repair in the days of social distancing?

Of course, if your service department is open, you’re doing all you can to ensure the safety of your employees and customers. But, unfortunately, a lot of consumers are still hesitant to bring their vehicles in.

An ongoing Cox Automotive consumer study reveals that 43% of consumers who are delaying service and repair would be more comfortable moving ahead with service if the dealer offered at-home service pick-up and drop-off .* So, let’s talk about vehicle pick-up and delivery for service and repair customers.

Best practices for contactless service and repair

We’ve gathered some best practices for advertising valet service and repair and ensuring a smooth, convenient experience. Let’s get started!

Merchandising your valet service and repair is key.

  1. Make it clear on your website and advertising that you offer pick-up and drop-off for service and repair.
    • Send your customers an email explaining that you’re open for business and ready to help service their vehicles in a safe and convenient manner. Pro tip: Get right to the point in your subject line, referencing your safe and convenient pick-up/drop-off service, rather than leading with “COVID-19.”
    • Get the word out on social media. Many of your customers are spending more time on there than usual these days!
    • Sign up to add Autotrader’s newly launched Maintenance from Your Door badge to your Autotrader and KBB.com vehicle detail pages and dealer detail page. There’s no cost to Autotrader dealers for this or other Dealer Home Services tools.
  2. Among consumers delaying their vehicle service, 70% say they’d be more comfortable setting service if they knew the vehicle was sanitized and disinfected.* Update your website and consumer scheduling experience to highlight precautions and actions you’re taking to reassure your customers. Some examples of sanitation best practices can be found here.

Use scheduling tools and set customers’ expectations for the process.

  1. Leverage tools like Xtime to create a seamless scheduling process for your customers.
  2. Many customers’ budgets are tight. So, raise awareness of your service financing options through dealership signage, appointment scheduling processes and email.
  3. Fill customers in on what to expect from scheduling all the way through to drop-off. Let them know how pick-up will work, how you’ll keep them updated, how payment will be handled, and what they can expect when the car and keys are dropped off.

Ensure the service pick-up process is seamless.

  1. Use text messaging to let customers know a service technician is on the way. Consider including the technician’s name, phone number and a photo in your message.
  2. Create a process for safe and secure handling of vehicle keys.

Then provide clear communication while the car is being serviced.

  1. Offer your customers a simple way to stay up to date on service status from their phone or computer.
  2. Eliminate any paper-based processes that require face-to-face interaction. Use online approvals for all additional service recommendations.
  3. Provide a connected experience by sharing photos and videos with your customers as you discuss needed services and repairs.

Finally, leverage contactless methods for a smooth vehicle drop-off.

  1. Communicate with your customers via text when their vehicle is ready and coordinate a convenient drop-off time.
  2. Encourage contactless payment methods like online payment. Send a text or email payment request and enable your customers to complete payment on their mobile device.
  3. Coordinate a process for safe and secure hand-off of keys.

If you offer drop-off and pick up service and repair, now is the time to make sure your customers know by adding Maintenance from Your Door to your listings and dealer detail page. To find out more about this offering and other tips to drive your business, contact your local Autotrader Dealer Success Consultant.

You can get all the latest Autotrader news on our Here for You page, including details about our 50% relief program for the months of April and May.

*2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study