I Brought Back More than Cigars from the Business Bourbon and Cigars Event in Kentucky!

By: John Traver

I just got back from a successful Business Bourbon and Cigars conference in Louisville, Kentucky put on by Scott Joseph, Founder of J&L Marketing, and Sandy Cerami of Sandy Cerami and Associates, and what an event! While the excursions and Bourbon tastings at such landmarks as ChurchHill Downs and Buffalo Trace were exceptional, I was most impressed by the level of innovation and talent brought by the more than 60+ dealer leaders who attended the event.

In a true Mastermind approach, small dealer groups of 8-10 were inspired to brainstorm solutions to upcoming challenges such as acquiring used car inventory, the tech shortage and retaining clients from sales to service to aftermarket.

While every topic was highly relevant, I found myself coming back time and again to the idea of retention of our customers and how we can supercharge this area of the dealership.  It’s time to move beyond the Sales to Service handoff as a solution to this challenge. Today’s customers are complex. They just lived through a Pandemic that kept many of them at home and normalized the process of needed items coming right to their door. Instacart delivered groceries, DoorDash delivered late night Taco Bell runs, and Amazon brought just about everything else!

It begs the question – why are we not bringing this same level of convenience to the customers in our BDC and Fixed Ops departments? Wouldn’t a mobile service that picks up and delivers vehicles solve most of the time-related challenges our customers (and service reps) are facing? How many calls asking when a particular service will be done would it erase from your Service desk?

I’ll go one step further. There are dealerships out there currently coming to the customer’s home to service the vehicle in their driveway! If you think this isn’t happening, look it up on Amazon. In certain locations, you can now order an oil change. One of the dealers attending the mastermind session tried it out to poke holes in the solution. The result? Fast, clean, the techs were professional, and it was done at the same price as an oil change at the dealership. It begs the question, if you can order up a tech from Amazon to come to your home, why are we as an industry not able to offer the same?

We are – and we must – in order to stay relevant to today’s consumer. I challenge each of you reading this blog to consider the convenience factor of your service department. As I said in my own mastermind group, we’re not talking about a band-aid, this needs to be a monumental shift. It’s ok to start small. Maybe one mobile van to send out to customers who request it? Maybe you order your own Amazon oil change to see how they do it and see what you can emulate from the process? Maybe it’s nothing more than a bullet point on your roadmap for 2023.

Whatever it is, the time is now to change the way our BDC and Fixed Ops departments work with customers. The world has changed in the last two years and it’s our responsibility to stay ahead of the curve. Our customers are trained to expect this, and, if done right, your dealership will stand tall in your market and be rewarded with the greatest prize of them all- Retention.