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Auto Dealers: 3 Ways to Maximize Service Department Revenue

Posted by Kevin Butler on Jan 18, 2016 5:30:00 AM
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Service, Service, Service

In real estate, the mantra is location, location, location. But in the auto dealer business, it’s more about service, service, service.

Service as a percentage of total revenue has continued to fall over the last five years, but the net profit from service continues to climb (NADA Report 2014). As such, your service department should be one of your most profitable departments. The key to a successful service business is satisfied, recurring customers. In this post, we’ll show you how to optimize your telephone and in-person service workflows to ensure customers keep coming back.

JD Powers identified that the biggest key to customer satisfaction with service is timely, helpful advice and support from service advisors. However, dealerships tend to score poorly at these key tasks. So the biggest impact you can have on your service department is to make sure that customers are taken care of quickly and efficiently whether they call or drive into your service center.

Here are three easy ways to improve these critical areas.

1. Is It Live, or IVR?

Every dealership needs to be calling its service customers to ensure service bays are filled. A missed appointment costs, on average, $240 in revenue. Just two of those a week quickly adds up to $24,960 in revenue lost annually. One way to stem the flow of lost service revenue is by re-examining how these calls are made; i.e., are these calls automated, or made by a live person?

Live calls take up resources that may be better used elsewhere to assist customers. Using an automated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) solution like the Customer Survey & Appointment Reminder application included with the Wave IP Communications Platform from Vertical Communications can save hours of service staff time by completing calls in just minutes. Customers can automatically confirm or reschedule appointments in a single phone call, and if a confirmation is not received, the system automatically re-calls the customer to help reduce service no-shows.

2. Take Our Advice: Service Advisors Should Advise while Inbound Teams Take Calls

With staff freed up by automating service calls, you can create a dedicated inbound team to take incoming customer calls, including requests to speak to a live person routed directly from the automated appointment reminder. This frees up your service advisors to focus on the customer in the store or service lane, and not on answering the phone. Make sure the inbound call team can easily access service advisors if a question arises, preferably using a non-intrusive technology like chat or instant messaging. Ideally, your sales advisor(s) should train the inbound team to ensure they are knowledgeable on and understand service issues in order to reduce the number and need to transfer calls to service advisors.

NOTE: Don’t use the BDC as your inbound team; BDC agents should be employed full-time handling leads. The inbound team can be managed by the BDC manager, however, which is another good way to get these teams working together.

3. Integrate Calls with Your CRM

Make sure the inbound team can easily and quickly access a customer’s call history and service records when they receive a call. In fact, anyone answering the phones should have easy and immediate access to this information as it will personalize the interaction right from the start.

There are many ways to help your team get this information, but our experience shows that many dealerships still do this manually searching their CRM, or worse, putting the customer on hold to retrieve a physical file. This works, but is certainly not optimal.

Ideally, you need to integrate your various service applications and databases, so all the information is easily accessible to your teams. One way to do this is to integrate your communications system with your CRM and service records, so the customer’s history and service records are automatically displayed on the screen when the call is taken. Vertical’s Wave IP Communications Platform and Auto Dealer Suite can integrate with a number of CRMs such as Salesforce, DealerSocket and ELEAD1ONE, so the process is automatic and easy.

Technology Is the Key

We have seen these process and technology improvements work over and over in a variety of dealership scenarios. What’s more, all the technology required to automate these processes is readily available.

With the right mix of training and technology, it’s possible for the majority of your incoming service calls to be handled by the inbound team, so your service advisors can focus on the customer arriving in the service lane.

Bottom Line

DealerRater reports that 40% of new car buyers rated the reputation of the service department as a significant factor in choosing a dealership. As such, it makes sense that more personalized and efficient phone interactions can help drive faster customer engagement in the service lanes to improve the customer service experience, and generate new and returning business.

Vertical’s Wave IP Communications Platform and Auto Dealer Suite include all the features and functionality needed to get prospective new customers into your dealership and ensure they are taken care of when they are there. To find out more, visit

Topics: Auto

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At Vertical we're inspired by the always-connected, data-driven enterprises that embrace the new way of working made possible with mobile and cloud technology. We replace traditional business phone systems with a communications platform and secure cloud services that enable powerful new workflows to ensure you are always connected to your customers. Wherever. Whenever.

Vertical has thousands of clients of all sizes in all industries and we have specific communications platforms for the retail, auto, hospitality and healthcare sectors.

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