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  • Jim Martin

"Service Car Count Crisis: Low Car Sales and Natural Defection to Impact Dealerships - Act Now!"

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

huge parking lot full of cars

The automotive dealer service and parts industry is facing a crisis that is looming closer by the day. Based on the sales decline from 2019 to 2022 there are 8,765,500 light-duty vehicles and trucks that were not sold. ( With low car sales, and the looming end of new-car warranties, service departments are about to face a major challenge. Natural defection coupled with a significant decrease in the number of new customers means that the service car count will decline dramatically, impacting dealership revenue. The time to act is now, as the industry faces a freight train hitting fixed ops departments right between the eyes. Service managers must focus on customer retention to stave off the impending decline. The clock is ticking, and the time to act is now.

Building value in your service department is crucial to ensure long-term profitability and customer satisfaction. We are in a people business. It is paramount that you build relationships with your customers. Many dealers already do much to retain their customers. Is it enough?

The top 6 reasons why customers are unsatisfied with their experience in an automotive service department, as determined by the most frequent complaints, are as follows:

communication tree

  1. Poor communication: If customers are not given clear and timely updates on their vehicles' status or are unfamiliar with the service process, they may become frustrated and perplexed.

  2. Long wait times: If customers must wait for a long time, they might feel as though their time is being wasted, especially if they weren't given an accurate wait time estimate.

  3. Unsatisfactory repairs: Clients won't be pleased if their vehicle isn't fixed properly if the repair takes too long, or if they have to bring the car back more than once for the same problem.

  4. Staff who are not friendly or professional: If customers are greeted by staff who have a bad attitude or lack professionalism, they might not feel respected or welcomed.

  5. Overcharging or hidden fees: If customers are charged more than necessary for services or find unanticipated fees or charges on their bill, they may feel taken advantage of.

  6. Their vehicle needs tires: Customers often do not know that you sell tires. You can have tires all over your service drive with marketing materials and a big sign, but if you don’t have the conversation, they are going to a tire shop.

Here are some key strategies that can help you reduce customer defection rates and increase customer loyalty:

Provide Express Service

  • Offer a quick and efficient service experience

  • Value the customer's time

  • Utilize technology to streamline the process

technician standing in shop

Focus on Expertise

  • Hire and retain competent technicians

  • Encourage technicians to obtain certifications and training

  • Share technician credentials and accomplishments with customers

  • Become experts in the tire business

Build Value in Services

  • Promote the benefits of preventative maintenance

  • Offer customized maintenance plans

  • Provide detailed service recommendations based on manufacturer guidelines

  • Utilize quality parts and materials and market accordingly

Provide Competitive Pricing

  • Offer transparent and competitive pricing

  • Avoid unnecessary sales suggestions

  • Provide clear explanations of pricing and services

  • Use digital platforms to provide easy access to pricing and service information

Leverage Dealership Amenities

  • Offer complimentary shuttle service

  • Provide loaner vehicles

  • Offer pick-up and delivery options

  • Offer comfortable waiting areas with amenities like Wi-Fi and refreshments

Establish Strong Relationships

  • Build a rapport with customers - Don’t just take their order

  • Address customer concerns proactively and promptly

  • Provide personalized service recommendations

  • Follow up with customers after service visits

Use Customer Feedback to Improve

  • Make it easy for customers to provide feedback

  • Analyze feedback to identify areas for improvement

  • Use feedback to refine services and processes

agreement handshake

Implement Loyalty Programs

  • Offer incentives for repeat business

  • Provide special perks for loyal customers

  • Use digital platforms to track and reward customer loyalty

  • Make loyalty programs easy to understand and use

Emphasize Transparency

  • Provide clear and honest communication with customers

  • Avoid misleading or confusing messaging

  • Be upfront about costs and potential issues

  • Foster a sense of trust and transparency with customers

Embrace Technology

  • Utilize digital platforms to communicate with customers

  • Offer online appointment scheduling

  • Use texting and technician video whenever possible

By implementing these strategies, you can build a strong foundation for customer retention and reduce customer defection rates at your dealership service facility.

At Fixed Operations Development, we envision a future where car dealers and managers are equipped with the tools they need to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the car business. We strive to be the leading provider of innovative solutions that help our clients achieve sustainable success and create a culture of excellence. Our goal is to transform the industry by creating and enforcing processes and standards for efficiency, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. We are committed to empowering our clients to become the go-to shop for their guests and drive long-term growth and profitability.

You can reach us at any time by calling (813) 602-1964 or emailing

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