5 Tips for a Profitable Service Center This Summer

When summer approaches, it can only mean one thing: road trip season is almost here. Given the recent travel restrictions that spanned every corner of the country, it should come as no shock that there’s plenty of pent-up demand for summer travel and road trips this year and beyond.

But how can your car dealership and service department help your customers prepare for summer road trips? The team at fusionZONE Automotive has compiled a list of tried-and-true tips that can benefit both your customers and your business’s bottom line.

Here’s to a fun and safe road trip season for your customers and a profitable summer for your service center!

1. Time For Another Oil and Filter Change?

Every motorist knows that oil changes are regularly required and a crucial component of vehicle maintenance. What they may not know, though, is that oil change intervals aren’t just about mileage.

While maintenance schedules for oil and filter changes will vary by make, model, year, mileage and driving style and conditions, most will still recommend an oil change every six months at a minimum.

Perhaps a customer dusted off their garaged sports car and is planning a weeklong summer road trip, and the car hasn’t been driven much since the previous summer. Or, maybe a family’s secondary vehicle is finally going to see some open-road action after a long hiatus. Either way, this could be the right time to recommend a quick oil change, complete with a new oil filter, so that these drivers can hit the road with confidence.

2. Better Get the A/C Checked

No matter where your dealership and service facility is located in the States, the summer season is bringing with it hotter temperatures than what you, your road-trip crew and your car are accustomed to for most of any given year.

What better time to have their vehicle’s air conditioning or A/C system checked than before the heat arrives and they’re spending more time on the road? After all, no one wants to discover their car’s A/C system is struggling when they’re hours out of town and have a tight road trip schedule.

Since a car’s air conditioning can seem plenty adequate when outdoor temperatures are cool, remind your customers that it’s smart to have their A/C system tested and inspected before every summer season.

3. Tire Pressure and Wheel Alignment Check

There’s so much riding on our cars’ wheels and tires, especially when a family summer road trip and precious cargo are involved. That’s why your customers will surely appreciate the care and attention you provide to their vehicle’s tires and wheels during a summer auto service visit.

From checking for proper tire pressure and tread wear to inspecting the alignment, routine wheel and tire maintenance can help prevent a range of on-road issues that could dampen any summer travel plans.

Wheels that are out of alignment or underinflated tires can be a driving hazard and can lead to premature tire wear and early replacement. Plus, if your customers want to maximize their MPGs and make fewer pit-stops on their cross-country journeys this summer, it pays to have properly inflated tires!

4. Battery Testing and Inspections

Summer heat can be hard on a car’s battery. And a dead battery will certainly stop a summer road trip in its tracks. But you can help your customers avoid such inconveniences with a battery test before they head off on the open road.

Since the average car battery only lasts about three years, your customer’s late-model crossover or SUV may be due for a battery replacement. Of course, battery life also depends on the local climate, driving patterns and other factors. Still, it’s best to remind motorists that it never hurts to get a battery test and inspection to help ensure they won’t be left stranded at a gas station off exit 37 in Timbuktu.

5. Wrap It All Up in a Road Trip Bundle

What if your customers don’t know what pre-travel auto maintenance their vehicle may be missing? That’s where your service advisors come in with expertise, recommendations and even a nifty road trip bundle!

Packaging an array of worthwhile summer auto care procedures into an affordable bundle can make it easier for your customers to decide on important car maintenance. It could also bring in more summer business for your service lanes!

Consider bundling tire inspections, battery testing, oil changes, A/C checks and other auto care items together to help your customers and your service center traffic this summer.

For more tips, tricks and insights from the fusionZONE team, reach out online or by phone. We’re industry experts, so whether you want to brainstorm your next service special or need assistance with your website or digital marketing, we’ve got your back.

In last week’s fusionZONE blog post, we covered several ways to increase service profitability. This week, we’re diving deeper with even more tips to enhance your dealership’s fixed operations revenue.

If the challenges of 2020 and what’s followed have taught us all anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The auto industry faces unprecedented changes, including a shift to electrified and autonomous vehicles, as well as the digital-first age.
But few in the industry were expecting such challenges as supply shortages.

For many dealerships, fixed operations like their service department have become even more vital than ever. Most service centers produce roughly 50% of a dealership’s gross profit, and with recent shortages in new and used cars for sale, fixed ops have undoubtedly saved the day for some.

So, how can you ensure that you’re maximizing your service center’s profitability in 2021 and beyond? Here are 10 tips for doing just that!

  1. Increase upselling and lines per RO. It’s great to boost your total ROs or Repair Orders, but are you also trying to maximize the services per RO? Whether through upselling or creating bundles that customers can’t afford to pass up, there are many ways to improve in this area.
  2. Motivate your Service Advisors. Are you incentivizing your client-facing service staff to upsell or increase lines per RO? Consider weekly or monthly gift cards or bonuses to the Service Advisor that knocks it out of the park!
  3. Make your services visible online to local motorists. Depending on your market, you may be missing out on potential service center customers outside of your city or immediate area. By implementing effective SEO and targeting key serving cities around your dealership, you could attract drivers who are looking for a new service department for everything from routine maintenance to high-ticket repair work.
  4. Allow access to all of your services via your website. Are you promoting all of your top services online? Whether your auto service center is known for certain procedures or you’re looking to bring in more business for certain services like multi-point inspections or tire installation, you should make it clear what you offer through your website.
  5. Inform customers about your services through text and video content. You can educate drivers about your services and why it’s important to keep up on routine maintenance through online video and text content on your website. A customer may already know that it’s time for an oil change, but you could potentially upsell online by providing more details about other complementary maintenance you offer.
  6. Reach out to customers regularly. Utilize your customer email list, social media channels and text or SMS-based marketing to keep your customers in the loop of current promotions. Sometimes a simple reminder and a deal or coupon are all that it takes to get someone to make that overdue service appointment.
  7. Don’t forget about free marketing options. Have you updated your Google My Business and social media profiles and pages lately? There are plenty of free ways to keep your dealership’s service department top-of-mind for customers when it’s about time for a tune-up.
  8. Invest more of your marketing budget on fixed operations. It’s true that completely free marketing will only take you so far. If your dealership’s marketing budget is heavily focused on new and used car sales, consider simply shifting some of your marketing spend to the department that generates the most revenue. Or, you could increase your total budget to accommodate a greater focus on service center marketing.
  9. Promote customer loyalty through rewards. Since acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one, you’d better have a plan to keep your sales and service department customers around when it’s time for car repair or maintenance. A VIP loyalty program with rewards toward parts and service could help keep your current customers from ever looking elsewhere for oil changes or inspections.
  10. Encourage new and returning customers to convert. Lastly, your website’s service-related pages should be designed to encourage service appointment scheduling. Make it easy for customers to book a service visit, find your current offers and coupons and contact your service team with questions.

For more tips on how to increase the profitability of your service department and other fixed operations, turn to the team at fusionZONE. Reach out if you’d like assistance with enhancing your SEO, website or digital marketing initiatives.