Is Your Dealership Managing Safety Recalls The Right Way?


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Photo Credit: JLaw45

In 2014 alone, over 60 million vehicles were recalled for a safety-related defect. Between the massive GM ignition switch recall, the Takata airbag recalls, and dozens of other “small” recalls that “only” effected a few hundred thousand vehicles at a time, 2014 has been the biggest year for recalls in history.

The point: Recalls are more frequent now than ever, and this trend is likely to continue. Manufacturers are hyper-sensitive to safety scandals, and regulators are paying closer attention now than ever before. While recalls often involve challenges for dealership fixed ops, they can also extremely beneficial to dealership profits.

Here are the biggest opportunities for dealers facing mass recalls and how dealers can benefit from them.

Converting Recall Customers Into Repeat Customers

If a customer is in your dealership’s service department for a recall repair, your service staff has a golden opportunity to ‘convert’ these customers (many of whom are infrequent visitors) into regular customers by:

  1. Demonstrating proficiency in customer service and organization
  2. Building personal relationships with customers
  3. Educating customers about services provided
  4. Demonstrating that dealership pricing is comparable to independent shop pricing, especially for basic maintenance items like brake pads and oil changes
  5. Offering customers an incentive to return (a coupon or otherwise)

Don’t let the staff working the service drive skip any of these steps, even if it means that they’re taking an extra 2-3 minutes to process customers. This token amount of time is an investment in the future.

Salespeople On The Service Drive

During a major recall, it’s often difficult for the porters to get customer vehicles moved, to get customers to the right spot in the dealership, etc. Why not borrow the sales staff to help out? Salespeople can park cars, help customers find the waiting room, answer basic questions about the recall, etc. with just a small amount of training.

Once sales staff knows what to do to help out in service, they can start conversations with consumers about buying a new car. What better way to start a vehicle sales conversation than over a cup of coffee in the waiting room? As long as salespeople are primarily focused on providing help to the customer, they’ll undoubtedly “luck into” a few sales.

Don’t Forget CRM Tools and Tactics

A long line of customers waiting for recalls don’t just represent warranty repair revenue for your dealership – they also present an opportunity to capture marketing data. Evey dealership department can benefit from this data, and it’s very easy to capture. Just make sure the service drive staff is collecting all the requested info from each and every customer.

Automated follow-up systems and tools are also low-hanging marketing fruit, but they’re only as good as the data you supply them. If your staff is doing a good job of collecting data from every recall customers, your automated marketing tools (which invite customers to trade in-demand vehicles, remind customers about services, etc.) can be very effective.

Build the Dealership Team

Few things build camaraderie and team relationships better than shared stress. Salespeople and service personnel can learn to trust one another if they’re asked to work side by side to help process recall customers. Back office staff can get a chance to interact with rank and file dealership employees they might not otherwise talk to during the normal course of business. Managers from every department can build credibility by pitching in to help. Etc.

Summing up, recalls are likely to be a fixture of the car business for the next few years (if not longer). Now is the time to focus on maximizing opportunities recalls offer.

Posted January 1, 2015 in: Automotive Retail.

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