July 9, 2021
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After sales is an essential area of focus for any motor dealership. A strong performance helps to build your reputation, enhance customer loyalty and boost revenue. So what does a good after sales service look like, and what can you do to improve your current offering?
 
You want to protect and grow your business, as well as focusing on after sales, good motor trade insurance is vital. Insurance Choice Commercial can help you to avoid unexpected costs that could even threaten the survival of your business.
 

What represents good after sales service?

After sales often feels like a Cinderella function beside sales of new and used vehicles by a dealership. However, it might be time to think again about after sales because this service is a valuable way of building a relationship with a customer at a time when other factors are weakening the relationship.
 
In many cases, a financing company is the primary point of contact for a customer and this prevents a relationship from being established between the motorist and the dealership. However, the after sales process is a good opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are worthy of the customer’s return custom and the right choice for servicing and repairs, even after the end of the warranty period.
 
Good after sales service obviously means getting the basics right in terms of servicing and repairs, but there is more to it than that. A responsive, approachable service that gets to the heart of what is most important to your customers – price, convenience, quality of service – will help to boost your reputation.
 

When after sales fall short

More than a third of car owners never hear from their dealership after the sale, according to research from dealership software provider CDK Global. The survey of over 9,000 motorists in nine countries found that 35% never heard from the dealership after the initial purchase, 43% of customers decided not to return to the dealership for servicing and 10% of the information provided by dealers to car buyers is irrelevant.
 
The survey also found that very few dealerships are using digital channels effectively to engage with their customers. Less than 6% of dealerships in the survey were found to use social media or communication apps to manage customer relations.
 
Although customers know which brands to look for when buying a car, following this they are often happy to use an independent or unknown provider for servicing and repairs. This represents a golden opportunity for a dealership to build a warm relationship that will have customers returning again and again for their ongoing vehicle needs.
 

Staff friendliness is an extremely valuable commodity

According to a survey by Driver Power, the way dealership staff behave is a very important factor in driving customers to your business.

Although having bought a car with the dealership is the most important factor in customer choice (23.7% told the survey they chose a dealer for this reason), almost as many (18.1%) made their choice based on the staff being friendly and helpful. A significant proportion (16.3%) chose the dealership based on expertise while 16.1% opted for a particular business based on its convenient location.
 
To bolster your strengths in customer service, you might want to employ staff specifically for this purpose or provide customer service training for all your workers. The tone for your communications should also be set from the top; junior employees should never see their superiors being less than courteous with customers, whether in person or out of earshot.
An after sales worker on the phone to a customer in an office

How can you improve your after sales service?

If you want to maximize the benefits of after sales for your business and your customers, these pointers might help you to develop a strategy.
 
  1. Be nice

This might sound trite, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of making a good impression on customers. This is true not only of your first encounter but every time you are in contact, whether in person or by phone or email. What does it mean to be nice? You should be a good listener and behave in a friendly but professional way. Fairness is also vital. You must be fair, accountable and transparent if your customers are going to trust you.
 
  1. Don’t forget the basics

It’s always important to remember that seemingly small things can make a big difference to customers. You want your customers to feel valued and respected; small gestures such as cleaning a vehicle thoroughly can make a big difference to their experience and their perception of your business. Basic elements of service include ensuring a car is ready when promised; fixing problems or offering a clear explanation as to why the issue may take longer; cleaning the vehicle; keeping to cost estimates; and always being polite.
 
  1. Restart the warranty

Customers tend to stick with dealerships during the warranty period, but may start to look elsewhere when works are no longer covered. One way of retaining these customers is to send a targeted email shortly before the warranty expires seeing if they want to move onto a new car, or enter into an agreement for repair and maintenance of the vehicle when it’s out of warranty.
 
  1. Get the most from your CRM

Forget spanners – a customer relationship management (CRM) system is one of the most valuable tools in your dealership. A CRM system records customer details and can be used to engage with customers proactively, for example by sending an automated text or email to remind them of an important date, or to inform them of a promotion they might be interested in. You can also produce invoices through a CRM, helping to simplify your back office processes.
 
  1. Invite customers for a test drive

Many customers might be toying with the idea of buying a new vehicle. If you send a well-timed invitation to test drive one of your newer models, you could build rapport with a customer and potentially make a new sale. You could even offer an incentive to come for a test drive, such as entry into a competition to win free servicing, or money off future repairs. If your insurance for a motor trade business allows, you could consider letting the customer go for a solo test drive, which will help to build trust and warmth between you.
 
  1. Offer convenience

Your customers will thank you for saving them any hassle. For example, rather than requiring the customer to work around your needs by attending your premises, you could offer remote delivery and pick-up services. For busy customers this can be a huge bonus, and they will reward you with loyalty. The inconvenience of having to leave work early or take time out on a weekend to drop or collect a car is significant, and customers will love it if it’s all taken care of.
 
  1. Engage with social media

You might think that social media presence is only for organizations with a budget for niche marketing personnel, but you can have a substantial impact by venturing out to see what people say about you on social media platforms. The feedback customers offer is sometimes blunt and unflattering. If you listen to what they are saying, you may be able to engage and remedy the situation, or at the very least you could pinpoint areas where your service needs to improve.
 
  1. Don’t let your social media accounts grow stale

Stamina is required to ensure your social media accounts deliver for you. All too often, accounts are established then content fizzles out after a month or two. It can be hard to keep the content coming. It helps to plan a few months or even a year in advance and schedule posts using a tool, or even bringing on a specialist to manage your profiles. If you’re thinking of managing your accounts yourself, check out some of our top tips.
 
  1. Include customer testimonials

Positive reviews from satisfied customers are like gold dust – when deciding whether to use your service, people want to hear from other customers. Including customer reviews on your website can be a powerful tool, or you could invite customers to engage on social media platforms by posting photos and testimonials. You might want to use a testimonial system that allows you to review comments before they are posted, giving you the chance to respond and demonstrate your approach to customer dissatisfaction before the review goes live.
 
  1. Give an insight into your daily life

Social media or your website can be used to give your company a bit of personality and character. Customers will warm to you when you show pictures of your dealership at work. Telling a story about your approach to after sales, introducing staff, or commenting on special achievements can all help to build your brand and make you more memorable for customers. People love to see faces so they know who they are trusting with their vehicle or their money, so don’t be shy about stepping in front of the camera!
 
  1. Attract new service customers

It’s easy for dealerships to become too sales-focused, but servicing and repairs is an important stand-alone part of the business. A small investment in ads and search engine optimisation (SEO) tools can boost your company’s ranking in search engines, meaning that your company will pop up as an option when a motorist looks for nearby repair shops.
 
  1. Showcase your good work

Keeping your business at the forefront of customers’ minds is an important task. If you have something to say, shout about it! Use social media or the local press to tell everyone about important events, for example stocking the first of a new range of vehicles, or a charity fundraising initiative. The more you get word out that you exist and build a positive association in people’s minds, the more likely they are to return to you for after sales services, or for their next vehicle purchase.
 
  1. Use tech to stay in touch with customers

Arranging service and repairs by phone is a waste of everyone’s time when technology can do the job for you. Investing in a platform for customers to book in means they can access your bookings system 24/7, change appointments and more. Make sure the system you choose offers the best possible user experience though – a substandard system might leave your customers stressed rather than satisfied.

An after sales team working at desks in an office

The impact of the pandemic on after sales

The pandemic has meant dealerships across the country have closed their doors and the market has experienced a serious squeeze. Those motorists who are buying new vehicles have been using online platforms to do so. While this may deliver on the experience of buying a new car, it is very challenging to understand what level of after sales service will be provided when buying through one of these platforms.
 
After sales are a great way to show your customers that you can combine the convenience of the online experience combined with the reassurance of a real person in a real place when it comes to servicing and repairs. When there is an issue with a vehicle, having a friendly and knowledgeable person explain the problem is usually infinitely preferable to the impersonality of an online system.
 

Choosing a motor trade insurance policy to fit your needs

Every dealership is different. That’s why Insurance Choice offers combined motor trade insurance that allows you to combine policies to cover your needs in one comprehensive package. You might want to insure against road risk, valeting, mechanics or collection and delivery cover.
 
Your tailored policy can also include other elements of running a business such as employee liability, public liability, product, sales and service indemnity cover.
 
Operating without appropriate cover is not only an unwise choice, in some circumstances it can even be illegal. It’s always a good idea to talk through your circumstances with an experienced insurance provider to make sure you get the comprehensive cover you need.
 
Why not get in touch with Insurance Choice to discuss your motor trade insurance needs today?
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