5 Fast-Food Industry Tactics to Help Grow Your Dealership Service Department

5 Fast Food Tactics for Service.jpg

By Ted Ings, Executive Director

Even though the fast food industry gets a bad rap, it hides some important customer service methods that can increase business at your dealership.

Do you want fries with that burger? How about a tire rotation to go along with your oil change?

Although the automotive and fast food industries are vastly different, in many ways, they’re also very similar. Both are forms of retail where customers want service ASAP, and because of these parallels, dealerships can learn a lot from drive-thru joints.

Grow your service business with simple tricks from the fast food industry

Today’s world is fast-paced and consumers expect to get what they want – right now! Such expectations make it difficult to address needs on the service drive when customers are lined up and in a hurry. Here are a few fast food strategies to help you get vehicle owners in and out quickly.

Online Ordering.jpg

Fast food tactic #1 – using mobile devices

Fast food companies take advantage of the fact everyone carries a cell phone these days. Big names like McDonald’s and Burger King have mobile-friendly websites, which display specials and promotions, as well as stand-alone apps. As a result, mobile ordering at restaurants increased by 50% in 2017 [Shopkick]. You can grow business at your dealership, too, through mobile marketing tactics.

Fast food tactic #2 – online orders

More than just pizza places offer online ordering these days. Most fast food restaurants provide the service as well, as should your shop if it doesn’t already. Typically, dealerships have a “schedule service now” field displayed prominently on their webpage and it works. Customers already have everything set up so they can drop off their car and go.

Of course, the parts department can sell online as well. Purchases can be made with just a few simple clicks, reducing the number of time-consuming phone calls.

Fast food tactic #3 – pre-cooked food

In many cases, fast food restaurants have select items, such as fries and onion rings, pre-cooked. Having these greasy side dishes ready to go helps fulfill orders fast.

Fast Food Tactics for Service.jpg

Similarly, your service team can create pre-work orders to expedite transactions. That way, the necessary information is already documented. All the advisor needs to worry about is taking down the mileage and performing a walk around when the customer arrives.


The strategy can be applied to the shop as well. Common-use parts (e.g., oil filters, air filters, etc.) and pre-packaged parts should be easy to access and ready to go for rapid vehicle service.

Fast food tactic #4 – self serve

When visiting the local burger joint, instead of waiting on a server, customers get condiments and pour sodas themselves.

At the dealership, you can’t allow vehicle owners to change their own oil – but you can give them an express service drop box. That way, during the morning rush, they can fill out the form and drop off their keys on their own. No advisor is needed, although having a Greeter available to assist with the process can be very helpful.

After the morning rush is over, the service team can collect the express forms and fill out the repair orders. Also, they must make a point of walking around the vehicle and note any additional opportunities for service. Then, advisors should call all customers to review repair orders and discuss any further recommendations.

Ted Ings - Dealer Training Technologies.jpg

Book a Complimentary "Ask the Expert" Discovery Call with Ted Ings

Exclusively for Dealers, Executive Managers and OEM/Lenders/Suppliers

Fast food tactic #5 – delivery

Sandwich shops and Chinese food restaurants make deliveries – and your service team should, too. Even though such service goes above and beyond what most dealerships are willing to do, there are those who’ve created tremendous repeat and referral business from ideas such as:

Service in your driveway – Specially designed vans provide regular maintenance and tire rotations.

Drop off service – many luxury lines bring a trailer and load up the customer’s car for transportation to the dealership. Some even drop off a loaner at the same time.


The concepts have the potential to improve customer relationships and form long term retention.

All the customer service, none of the calories

Next time you grab lunch at a nearby fast food restaurant, instead of focusing solely on the menu, pay attention to their customer service tactics. Chances are, you’ll notice a couple of tricks that could be useful at your dealership.