America’s cars are lasting longer than ever, and it doesn’t seem to be a passing phase, according to stats from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation.
The average age of vehicles on the road in the U.S. last year was 11.6 years. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Bureau shows that the average age of cars in America has done nothing but steadily increase since 1995, when it was 8.4 years. And the trend goes back even farther than that.
Having more older cars on the road translates to an increasing demand for repair services. To wit, dealership repair orders grew by over 5 percent in just one year in 2017 (300 million to 316 million).
This offers a huge opportunity for service to sales, when done right. No matter the size of your service department, you can take advantage of this increased service lane traffic by implementing smart technology that gives you a clear view of each customer and tells you the best offer for that person: the customer-driven approach to a sale.
The right technology can also turn your service drive into your best source for used cars: the dealership-driven approach to a sale. (Because older cars on the road doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve had the same owner. In fact, at 6.6 years, the average age of ownership is almost half that of the average vehicle age.)
PLUS, used cars are selling at high prices. This helps to drive the demand for new cars, while giving you greater profits for the used cars you sell.
Service to sales is simplified when your team knows exactly what your service customers want in a new car, and when they want it. Then, having the right conversation at the right time in the waiting area is easy – no more guessing, no more awkward approaches.
AutoAlert’s Service Lead Management (SLM) gives you credible offers for all of your service customers. The deals are derived from pertinent information – like what the customer can afford, what his car “position” is (where he is in his contract, whether his warranty is up, etc.), and what his recent shopping behavior has been – for a conversation that applies specifically to him, his current car, and his options.
Bryan Armstrong, e-Commerce Director of VW dealerships in Missouri and Utah, recently told us that at any given time, 17 percent of the population is in the market for a new car, but how do you know which 17 percent? One indicator is recall notices, he says. Even months after a national recall, customers often want a new car after losing faith in their current one. Having AutoAlert keeps him on track with those customers.
“Knowing when customers are in a position to easily swap, while providing a lower acquisition cost to the dealership and higher customer retention, has changed the game for us,” says Armstrong. “Plus, we’re seeing a greater customer satisfaction index and customer experience index.”
Customers are happy because they’re being approached with a benefit – a real, ready offer. Rebates and incentives that fit particular customers might allow them to take advantage of lower payments on a newer car, while forgoing a huge service bill.
“If we got the car as a trade-in, we were going to have to service it anyway,” he says. “This is a very empowering, positive experience for the customer. It puts them in the driver’s seat … pardon the pun!”
In addition to opportunities that are driven by what your customers want, SLM provides opportunities that are driven by what your dealership wants.
The Wish List feature allows your team to be notified immediately when a car that your used car manager has deemed as desirable arrives in the drive. Then, the same approach can be used to talk with that customer regarding her new car options.
Sourcing used cars this way is more cost efficient than using auctions, and saves you on auction fees, transportation fees, and employee time and money. It’s also less risky, because you have a much better idea of what you’re getting with a car sourced right from your drive.
These cars are easier to sell, too, because customers like having more background information. Sometimes, if the customer who traded in the car is a regular customer, you’ll even have the entire story on the car.
A Win All Around
Perhaps the best thing about SLM is that it creates a win for everybody: The customer is happy, and the sales and service teams are happy. This brings your team together for a unified effort, and builds solid relationships both within your dealership and with your customers.