Earn Loyalty with a Sales to Service Handoff

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By Ted Ings, Executive Director

Imagine you have a major appliance like a washing machine that’s stopped working. 

It’s been good to you and it’s an expensive appliance, but you head to the store to find its replacement. Now picture talking with the sales associate about a new one. You tell them what’s wrong with your current washing machine, and they stop you in your tracks: 

“Oh, that’s a common issue, but it’s an easy fix! Come with me – you don’t need a new one unless you really want one. Let’s set up a service call for you instead.”

Now, that’s probably not the experience you’d get from an appliance retailer. It could be – and in many cases, SHOULD be – the experience a customer receives from the car dealership. 

The Sales to Service Handoff

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The sales-to-service handoff that you know is when your customers have bought a new vehicle and you’re introducing them to the dealership. And while that’s both effective and necessary, it can be used for customers who just need their car fixed instead of replaced. 


Automotive sales professionals might not want to pass over the sale, and in a commission-based environment, that’s completely understandable. But the benefits of handing a customer off to the service department is much more helpful in the long run if that’s in fact what serves the customer best. 

•    It creates a customer-first mentality. Culture is a word that is becoming cliché, overused to the point of losing its meaning. But developing a customer-centric culture is what serves your store best. 

•    The customer feels immediate loyalty. You’ve just saved your customer thousands of dollars on buying a vehicle unnecessarily. That generates an immediate sense of loyalty to you and the dealership, as long as it doesn’t fall apart later on.

•    The new car sale isn’t far away. The seed has already been sown to buy a replacement vehicle. There’s an excellent chance the customer will repair their vehicle today and come back to you soon to find a new one. 


There will be opportunities for the sales-to-service handoff from time to time. While it may be the best way to help your customer, it’s not going to be used if the pay structure is a ‘me-first’ structure. 

The sales-to-service handoff pairs best with a non-commission-based pay plan.