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8 Keys to Increasing Dealer Service Appointments and Show Rates

Automotive Industry
Appointment Setting
BCP Editorial

BCP Editorial

11 Mar, 2024
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Car dealerships sell cars – right? This is the view customers often take, but experienced dealers know that service is just as important to their bottom lines. One study found that repairing vehicles (also known as fixed ops) can account for nearly 50% of a dealership’s gross profit margin. In a world where margins on new car sales are shrinking, this makes increasing dealer service appointments and show rates more important than ever.

Benefits of Increasing Dealer Service Appointments and Show Rates

Appointment rates and show rates are key performance indicators (KPIs) for service departments. They measure the health of your service department and provide a window into your efficiency and customer satisfaction. And they have very real benefits for your dealership’s bottom line.

Generate Revenue

Car dealership service appointments are a significant source of revenue. They include routine maintenance, repairs, and other services that can generate profit through labor charges, parts sales, and cross-selling opportunities. By increasing dealer service appointments, ensuring a high show rate, and offering value-adds, dealerships can maximize margins and revenue potential.

Increase Efficiency

This one is simple: Empty services bays and idle technicians aren’t generating profit. By increasing dealership appointments and show rates, you fill those bays, keep technicians busy, and increase your margins on parts by buying in bulk. Maximizing resource utilization improves productivity, profitability, and efficiency.

Build Customer Loyalty

Many dealerships focus on sales, but service appointments provide valuable touchpoints that keep customers engaged beyond the initial purchase. By delivering excellent service experiences, dealerships can boost customer satisfaction, repeat business, and referrals. When you increase your dealership show rate, that’s a key indicator your customers are happy.

Drive Upsells and Cross-Sells

Increasing dealer service appointments means you’ll have more opportunities to upsell and cross-sell additional products and services. Many service customers are interested in maintenance packages, warranties, and other value-added offerings. They may also need service they’re not aware of, like filter replacement or a fluid flush. But you can’t offer them these services unless they make an appointment – and also show up.

How to Increase Dealership Appointment Rate

Dealership appointment rate – the rate at which both inbound and outbound service-related calls translate into appointments – varies based on location and other factors. A good rate is around 8% to 12%, but this is also an area where any dealership can continuously improve. Whether your conversion rate is in the double digits or not even close, these strategies can help you.

Improve Your Service Capacity

Increasing dealer service appointments is impossible if you don’t have the capacity to accommodate demand. Assess how you can optimize your staffing levels, service bay availability, and technician efficiency. Make sure you have the resources to handle incoming customers and minimize wait times. Invest in technology that can help you schedule and organize your appointments, like a car dealership appointment setter or better yet, an outsourced business development center (BDC).

Allow Online Booking

Speaking of technology, online booking is essential in today’s digital world, allowing customers to book service appointments at their convenience, 24/7/365. The best online scheduling platforms are mobile-friendly and easily integrate with your website and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Pro tip: Make sure your hours of operation, capacity, and time between appointments are set to your desired levels.

Leverage Connected Car Alerts

Chances are, your customers are receiving alerts when their car is due for service. In many cases, these alerts are also sent directly to dealerships (this is a big benefit of GM’s OnStar service, for example). With the right technology, increasing dealer service appointments can be as simple as responding to alerts promptly and offering customers an easy way to book the service they need. Better Car People responds to connected car alerts within 10 minutes and is proven to increase appointment rates.

Mine Your Manifest Lists

Service customers often drop off the radar, turning to third-party shops or simply forgetting to come in for routine maintenance. Don’t forget these potential service leads. Follow-up with lapsed customers and proactively mine your manifest lists to identify customers who are due for service based on their vehicle's mileage or history. Better Car People will surface new opportunities from your inactive, recall, pull-ahead, and loyalty lists.

How to Increase Dealership Show Rate

Increasing dealer service appointments is only half the battle. It’s not uncommon to see service appointment show rates – the rate at which someone with an appointment actually shows up – at 50% or even below. But with the right strategies, you can increase that to 85% or even higher.

Send Reminders

Sometimes, customers simply forget their appointment. Sending reminders is a simple yet effective way to increase your show rate. Always send an appointment confirmation right after booking. Then send reminders a day or two before and the day of the appointment. Use a combination of email, text messages, and phone calls, depending on customer preference. Many car dealership appointment setters and platforms like Better Car People can automate these reminders for you.

Reward Customers

Incentivize customers to keep their appointments by rewarding them with discounts on future services, complimentary vehicle inspections, or loyalty points. Include incentives in your service maintenance packages, too. You might be surprised how much customer rewards can increase dealership show rates and promote loyalty.

Give Details

If customers can’t find your dealership, don’t know where to park, or aren’t sure where to go once they do, they might call it quits. If they forgot paperwork and have to go home and get it, they might never come back. If they need to clean out their vehicle before you can work on it, they might leave. When you communicate with customers before their appointment, provide all the information and reminders they need to have a successful experience.

Provide Amazing Service

This is the most important piece of the puzzle: Increasing dealer service appointment rate won’t get you anywhere if you don’t retain the customers you have. When customers have a good experience and return again and again, your show rate goes up. You need to do everything you can to reduce wait times, maintain parts inventory, and provide high-quality service from trained professionals. Consistently delivering on scheduled appointments and providing exceptional service fosters trust and confidence.

Case Study: Increasing Appointments and Show Rates with an Outsourced BDC

Whether you’re a single dealership or a corporate group, increasing dealer service appointments and show rates can be a challenge, especially as you grow. Sir Walter Chevrolet, a top three dealer in North Carolina, saw this first-hand. Their in-house BDC struggled to handle hundreds of incoming service calls per day and over 2,000 repair orders per month.

Matt Birckhead, Executive Manager, knew he was missing opportunities, and he turned to Better Car People to do something about it. Our Service BDC™ was up and running in just two days, with live agents handling service calls 24/7/365 using customized scripts.

Matt immediately noticed more consistency in Sir Walter’s service processes. His salespeople are no longer pressured to take calls after-hours, and he now sees 50+ more service appointments per month along with increased show rates. Ultimately, Matt’s team improved efficiency while maintaining complete control over service processes. Download the full case study to learn more.

Drive More Car Dealership Service Appointments

Increasing dealer service appointments and show rates can create an engine that drives your business forward. Better Car People is here to help streamline your processes and turn your dealership into a well-oiled machine, just like we did for Sir Walter Chevrolet.

We’re not an autoresponder or an appointment setter. Real people respond to your leads, send reminders, and follow up. We’ve scheduled more than 2.2 million car dealership service appointments, and we’re ready to help you, too. Schedule a quick demo to see how we can increase your appointments and show rates.