Four Secrets to Build Repair Order Counts

Building repair order counts is often not considered until the time your shop is slow which in my view is too late. In this article we will review four processes you can use in your dealership operations to build your repair order counts not only now but on an ongoing basis. The very first thing that might come to your mind when considering ways to build repair order counts is advertising. Although I do consider advertising important that is not one of the secrets being discussed here in this article.   

Many service facilities spend little or no advertising on a consistent basis and that is hardly a secret. Most dealerships advertise low cost labor operations such as oil changes they feel will drive business into the dealership. These advertisements bring in traffic desiring the low cost and are determined to buy only the sale item so they can beat the system. The four secrets we are going to discuss here today involve only a small expense but do require effort and commitment to develop the processes without compromise. 

Secret 1: Open Safety Recalls
This is the most effective way over the years I have used to develop repair order counts and take customers from the competition. It starts by using the factory provided information that shows the open safety campaigns from vehicles you have sold and that are in your market. The process I have developed that has proven very successful is to have each advisor contact 10 open safety campaign clients on a daily basis. It is important this contact list be verified by management and never reliant on how busy or slow the shop is. You might think that if you did this you would run out of safety campaigns eventually and not have anyone to contact.   In all the years of performing this type of process I’ve never encountered a situation where all the safety recalls were performed and there’s no need to contact anyone.

Generally you’ll find well over one month’s total repair order count for the service Department. Consider this program as essential to bring into your shop individuals concerned about the safety of their vehicle. These are the folks more likely to approve needed maintenance and repair items identified on the multipoint inspection and advisor walk around customer intake process.   It is also a way to illustrate that the dealership has a strong concern for the customer’s safety and they love the fact they were contacted by you. I’ve heard so many times the customer comments “Why didn’t my selling dealer contact me?” It’s a perfect time to say “I can’t answer that however I’m just calling you because I’m concerned.” You just earned a customer for life. Don’t forget to check vehicle inventories on your lot!  

Secret 2: Develop Local Fleet Accounts
I recommend you take a circumference of 10 miles from your dealership and begin identifying fleets with 10 vehicles or under as a target market. Use Google search and identify potential clients such as plumbers, electricians, contractors, and continue on as the list you find will get to be pretty long.

  I suggest developing a contact letter that will explain reasons the small fleets should do business with you. Items such as extended hours are a real plus as they won’t be required to lose the availability of that vehicle while it’s getting maintenance. Another item is to promise quick turnaround times for your special fleet accounts. Other suggestions would include an offer for your company to pick their vehicle up at their place of business and return it when the maintenance is completed. In the mailer I suggest you include up to five discount coupons for their staff or company vehicles to receive a special discount on an oil change to introduce the company to them.   You should have a standard process to mail at least 10 of these letters to small fleets on a weekly basis without any consideration of volume. In addition the service manager should make personal visits to a minimum of three small fleets on a weekly basis. These visits should include small gift items such as donuts for the staff or a pizza around lunchtime. 

The small fleets are rarely provided this kind of attention and as the relationship develops with the dealership it will be automatic they give serious consideration to using your dealership for their maintenance and service needs.   I also include in fleet building that you contact extended warranty companies asking to become a preferred vendor. Google automotive extended warranty companies and then begin contacting them. They are happy to know where to send their clients and receive calls from them every day asking where to take their car.

Secret 3: Showing You Care
Contact 10 of your existing clients per advisor on a daily basis with an offer to come into the dealership that illustrates your concern. A good example might be “We are concerned the price of gas has risen so quickly in recent weeks. We want to perform a multipoint inspection at no cost to you to be sure you’re getting the most out of every gallon of gasoline you’re purchasing. While you’re in we will check all your fluid levels and be sure you have your windshield washer fluid topped off at the same time. It’s our way to thank you for doing business with us.”   There are many ways to show the customer how much you care about them on a daily basis. Every interaction with the customer must show that the dealership cares. That involves the customer intake process, informing them of their needs, and explaining their options on every visit. They must never feel like they are burdened or taken for granted in any way. 

Their time must be considered as important as your time so the schedule must be performed properly.   Waiters should be staggered throughout the day so customers are not forced to have excessive wait times as you service or maintain their vehicle. This process creates a lot of positive talk about your dealership. People that hear about it will wonder why they don’t do business with you. They will recall their shop hasn’t called them in 10 years of faithful business together. You can never care about your customers too much!  

Secret 4: The Customer Experience
The importance of the customer experience should go without saying. It is however, considered a secret as most dealerships pay little or no attention to it. Have you ever sat in your customer waiting area and spend any time there? If not go there today and just sit and observe. Are the magazines current or three years old? Do you provide snacks for them along with assorted beverages? Do you have ways to entertain the children while mom gets the vehicle serviced?   Make it a standard practice to have your advisors when their explaining the the services performed to ask “What could I have done to make your visit better today?” Don’t ask the question, take the information they give you and implement ways to improve your processes after hearing their input.   

I have no doubt in my mind that if you place and practice these four secrets the repair order counts will grow consistently into the future. Take my challenge and implement all four of these secrets and understand one great truth. If you wait until you shop is slow it’s already too late. Be proactive in everything you do always placing the focus on your customer.   Do that and you will not only build your repair order count in service, you will sell your clients their next vehicle and they will send family and friends to you!

Rob Gehring, President
Fixed Performance Inc.
Margin Plus
Cell: (419) 282-1351
Fixed Performance complete fixed operations coaching consulting