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Finding the Lost Love in Your Service BDC

February 8, 2022

Valentine’s Day has us thinking about “the one that got away.” That high school sweetheart that never called back. That person who struck up a conversation and then left your text unread. 

How about those service customers who started to engage, and then ghosted you and haven’t heard from since?

Losing an opportunity for something amazing hurts, but there is a way to lessen the pain and win back those service customers. (We can’t help with the high school sweetheart).

And it’s all about engagement.

First Impressions Count

Service has been the foundation of dealerships for years, and this was truly highlighted since 2020. The low volume of new cars in addition to prolonged vehicle ownership has led to a time when people are staying in their cars for an average of 12.1 years. 

You get one chance to make a great impression, and this impression could create a 12 year (+) relationship. If you get one chance every 12 years on average to sell a vehicle, but multiple times a year to service, it is time to perfect and nurture your service leads and customers. According to automotiveMastermind, People who service their vehicle are 2.5x more likely to purchase from the same dealership, so now is the time to make sure they are coming into your lane.

What is your process for setting the first appointment? Do you have your salesperson walk the customer back to service and introduce them to the service manager? This should be a part of the process for every person who buys a vehicle at your dealership. The appointment can change if the customer needs it to, but you now have a reason to call the customer, follow up with them, and get them to have their first service completed with you.

74% of car buyers who had their vehicle serviced at the dealership said they were likely to purchase their next vehicle there. 

On 35% on those who did not have their vehicle serviced at the dealership said the same. 

Make sure you get that first service appointment in the books before the customer drives off the lot. That will not only help with loyalty and retention but also is proven to lead to sales loyalty.

Start with the People In Front of You

Are you engaging with each and every service engagement that comes in? These are the lowest of the low-hanging fruit, and a wonderful opportunity to surprise and delight your customers. Make it as easy as possible to interact with your service team and set appointments. Have your online service scheduler optimized for ease of use for your consumer, and include the link in your service engagements. And if you have not gone through the exercise of setting an appointment with your dealership scheduler, do it today. You may find areas of friction where the customers are dropping off because either they cannot find the service they need or the scheduler is too cumbersome.

Most OEMs have maintenance notifications sent to both the dealership and the customer. While these are incredibly timely and helpful reminders to the vehicle owner, they don’t always follow through and make the appointment. 

These notifications may trigger the first service visit with your customers, and you want to make sure you win them over quickly. 30-40% of non-dealership service customers stated they would switch to the dealership of purchase if trust is fostered through convenience and fair pricing. Win those customers back through engagement - specifically with maintenance notifications. 

Chase After It 

With all service leads, like sales leads, we cannot have the “one and done” mentality. Customers may not respond to emails and calls. They may have had to get that oil change while on vacation. That does not mean they are no longer interested in servicing at your dealership. 

On average, it takes 4-5 attempts at communication to get an engagement with a customer. In service, it can get hard to create and initiate a solid process that reaches out to customers who have engaged and either declined service or have just stopped communicating. It is important to stay top of mind with these customers and remind them of the value your certified service department brings to them. 

There is a goldmine of information sitting right in your DMS. One of the best ways to re-engage prior customers or initiate new ones is to pull lists from your system and make a concerted effort to call them. You can dedicate one member of your Service BDC to do this, or find a trusted partner in the automotive space to do this for you. Customers who have purchased but not serviced, inactive customers or customers who have not set appointments based on dealer maintenance notifications are all great places to start. Not only will you win back customers, but you will also gain net new customers as well.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is start. If you are unsure of what types of lists to pull from your system, the list below is a great place to start.

Helpful List Suggestions

  • Sold not Serviced
  • DMN Leads/ Maintenance Notification Leads with no engagement
  • Recall Lists
  • 1st Service Visit No-Show
  • Unused Warranty Lists
  • Customers who haven’t visited in 1 year
  • Declined Service Lists
  • Unused Free Oil Changes or Services

What Now?

The first quarter of the year is a great time to get solid processes in place to earn new service customers. Start small, pull one lists and start engaging customers to win them back to your dealership!


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