Declined Services Are an Opportunity
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
There are two ways to look at the word “declined.”
One of them being negative and the other as an opportunity to not only refine the multi-point inspection and interactive walk-around yet also increase the number of return customers through effective marketing. This all starts by properly engaging your client at their vehicle - it's the best selling tool you have.
The interactive service walk-around is the in many cases the customer's first interaction - following the meet and greet - with their Service Advisor. It's the Advisor's job to walk around the vehicle WITH the customer, pronounce the mileage, look for potential issues - i.e., windshield wipers, lights, etc. - and recommend services all while building the rapport with the customer. With the notion that you are their advocate by offering meaningful solutions. Not problems.
It's at this early stage the Advisor needs to introduce the complimentary multi-point inspection to the customer, get permission, and set expectations.
Once the vehicle has been inspected, and the technician completes the multi-point inspection and the customer is given a completed MPI report. On that document are recommendations such as tires, brakes, amongst other items. All of which have a “priority” level. At that time, the Advisor is to work with the customer explaining what the report entails, and offer them a plan of action to complete the recommended items. All of which is easier said than done.
Here are some of the top ways to address declined services:
1. Interactive service walk-around
The service walk-around - as mentioned earlier - is crucial in building that rapport with the customer as you survey their vehicle. And as you include the customer in this key step, you can highlight items that need attention and or replaced. Making sure to politely point them out the customer.
For example, there is the infamous penny test regarding the tread on their tires. Something as simple as that can make a big difference in the way the customer perceives your suggestions. Making sure, too, that if s/he had an appointment, you are aware of their service history, and what primary concern they are here for.
All of which can assist you in tailoring the interactive service walk-around. However, none of the above can happen if your advisor is sitting behind the counter - much like at a hotel front desk - pointing at the vehicle while asking the customer questions - that would otherwise be known if they had taken the time to perform the inspection with the customer.
2. Multi-point inspection
Once the multi-point report is completed there will be recommended service items: tires, brakes, coolant, wiper blades, lights, etc. In that report, it will also show the severity of the recommendation offering the customer a guideline as to what to approach first. And while the customer may decline the “recommended” services, it does not mean that you have to stop there! As you can work with the customer offering them a timeframe in which they can complete the repairs. Or if you have specials/coupons that can be used.
However, it boils down to how you approach the customer with the MPI report. Wherein, if you just hand the customer report and say “yeah, so looks like you might need some repairs.” They are much less likely to want to proceed with additional services/repairs other than of what was already booked.
Had the Advisor completed the walk-around WITH the customer, however, reviewing “potential” issues, which were then brought up in the completed MPI, the customer - who visually saw the potential issues (tires, brakes, etc.) is much more likely to have the repair completed.
Beyond asking for the repair, it is best practice to offer a plan of action regarding which service is most important. Offering them a solution on the time frame they have to complete the repairs. Whereas, if you are mentioning all repairs at once the customer could feel as if you are trying to take advantage. Leaving them unsure on what service/repair to have completed.
3. Service marketing
There are a lot of platforms out there that allow you to directly market to the customer after the RO closes based on the op-codes the Advisor used to close the RO. This cannot happen, though if the Advisor does not take the extra step to make sure the right op-codes were used.
Albeit, having several op-codes can not only lead to confusion, but also inconsistency as each advisor might have their own op-code to close an RO. That said, less is more. Where it is best to choose 2-3 services that you can direct marketing using op-codes. Such as tires and brakes.
Where if the customer needs new tires or brakes - and the Advisor uses a specific op-code - you can send that customer a coupon via email or text. This can be done by the BDC as well.
However, keep in mind that the offer has to be strong. Make sure to take a moment and compare the pricing in your offer to the local shops in the area. As for the timeframe in which to send the correspondence it is usually within the first 5-10 days. As the customer may be shopping other big box retailers comparing your prices! All the more reason to build that rapport with the customer selling the service before they leave.
4. Follow-Up and the BDC
While the Service Advisor might not have the downtime to contact each customer to review the MPI and declined services, you can always have the Service BDC Agent make the phone call to those customers that declined services. Offering them an exclusive discount. However, if this a recurring client and there is a strong rapport built with the Service Advisor then it might be best for the Advisor to continue that rapport by contacting the customer.
Bottom Line: the customer can decline service for many reasons. That does not mean, however, that we have to stop at “no” as the client is most likely shopping other retailers for tires or brakes. Especially if they say “well I can get that cheaper at (store).” In which case, the advisor can offer “Mr. Customer, I can understand the concern. However, we do our best to meet or beat competitor pricing. We are also OEM certified, which means our Technicians are specifically trained to work on your vehicle. And also offer a wide variety of money-saving options.”
The customer will not always say “yes,” but the more you stay in front of them through marketing and follow-up the better your chances are on selling them the recommended services. All of which starts with the service walk-around. And the better the walk-a-round is, the less declined services you will have!