Adversaries or Partners (continued)
However, the vehicle the customer wants needs a PDI before it can
be delivered.
The service manager looks at his computer and sees it
needs a PDI. He turns to the salesperson with fire in his eyes, “I am totally
booked up with appointments and I have three customers with emergencies
waiting. I do not have anyone available to do a PDI. Tell them to come back
later, or better yet, come back tomorrow.” The sales person goes to the
Sales Manager. The Sales Manager goes to the Service Manager and the
arguments begin. Sound familiar?
The customer is caught in the
They just want to drive home in their new vehicle now.
    In a large number of dealerships, the relationship between the sales department
    and the service department tends to be less than friendly. Both departments look at
    each other in a very ethnocentric way. Sales are always under pressure to get a “now”
    commitment from the customer. Once that now commitment is made and because our
    society has become an instant gratification one, they expect to take home their new
    vehicle “now”. The service department has customers who have made appointments
    and expect to have their vehicles repaired or serviced in a timely manner. In addition,
the service department has to deal with emergency repairs and customers who are usually not in the best of
moods, to say the least. Adding to this is the pressure each department feels are the CSI requirements they
need to reach; Making sure the customer is “totally satisfied” when they receive their survey.
The fact remains that both departments need each other. Nothing happens without the sale. If they don’t sell
vehicles, then the service department can not fix or maintain them. Without the service department, the sales
department can’t keep customer’s happy and coming back. Survey after survey, customers tell us that they want
to do business with just one place. They don’t like to shop around when it comes to buying vehicles or repairing
them. Salespeople are taught that in order to sell a vehicle they must first sell themselves, then the house. If they
do that successfully, they will sell the vehicle. The customer has already decided that they are going to buy a
vehicle. They just have to decide if they can buy it from you. What stronger sales tool could there be than a great
service department in a dealership. A customer may not ask about the service department during the road to the
sale. However,
a smart salesperson will automatically include a tour of the service department during
the sales process
before they sit down and do the numbers with the customer. Some manufactures ask the
customer in their survey if they were introduced to the service department.

A walkthrough of the service department “builds value” not only to the dealership, but the vehicle too. It gives
the customer the subliminal message that we care about you and we know how to take care of you after the sale.
The customer should be introduced to the service manager and service advisors. If there are any technicians
around, they too should be introduced. It will make the customer feel warm and fuzzy about bringing the vehicle
there for service. They will not be walking into a strange and scary place. When they do come back they will have
business cards in hand and a face to remember.

I know of a few dealerships that have a Salesperson or two come in when the service department opens.
The salespeople go into the waiting area and talk with customers, get them coffee. They help with arranging
transportation, answer questions, and do whatever to make the customer feel welcome and comfortable. A smart
sales person would find out the day before to see if any of his customers are coming in for service. How impressed
would that customer be to see their sales person waiting for them in the service department to say hello and see
how things were going? You will be surprised how many customers will start asking questions about buying a new

There is one dealership I know that became so successful doing this, that
they averaged fifteen extra sales a
from people right out of the service department in the morning. In the beginning the salespeople were not
very enthused to come in at seven in the morning because they did not understand the value. Once they started
seeing sales results, they were falling all over each other to come in. The sales and service personnel got to know
each other better and they became comrades.  It also made a huge impact on the service departments CSI
scores. Customers loved it.
Copyright © 2008 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.
Michael is one of the nation's leading Compliance Experts.
He is an agent for Curran EasyCare, serving New England
Automotive Dealerships. They offer insurance service
coverage, RV coverage, driver care, GAP coverage and
    I have yet to have had a service department admit this, but the sales department is the service
    department’s best and number one customer. Does the service department of almost every
    dealership do all the PDIs and used vehicle checks for the sales department? Does the service
    department repair and get ready for sale all those hundreds of used vehicles? Yes, they do! And
    yes, the money stays in house. Think of the impact of a service department’s bottom line if that work
    was sent somewhere else? The sales department pays for all those services one way or another. If a
    person from off the street that does a lot of business with you comes in and needs some work done
    right away, would you not go out of your way to accommodate them? Would you make sure that they
    were happy? The sales department should not be treated any less.
    If you are having “misunderstandings” between your
    service and sales department, there are a number of
    things that you could do to repair the relationship.
    Even if there are no issues, this could help strengthen
    what you’ve got.
Michael Maguire
Agent-Trainer/Curran EasyCare
  • Have weekly meetings with all your sales mangers and service managers. Have the sales department keep
    the service department advised of upcoming sales, vehicles that are about to be dropped off that need a PDI
    done on right away. Find ways to make the service department benefit from a sale. For example “Come in and
    test drive a new Ford and get a free oil change.”You may give away a few oil changes, but you could gain some
    long term customers.

  • Plan to have a monthly lunch. It could be just pizza or a barbeque which includes all personnel from the sales
    and service departments. Let the managers be the hosts and cook burgers and dogs on the grill for the
    employees. By having both sales and service managers being the host it, shows unity. Set it up so the service
    and sales people have to intermingle. When people sit and eat together it builds relationships.

  • Have your F&I department come up with spins or flat fees for service advisors on customers who they
    refer and sign up for extended service contracts. Make everyone feel like they are getting piece of the pie.

  • One of the last things a sales person should do before a customer leaves for home with
    their new vehicle, is to set up the customer’s first maintenance appointment for
    them. It assures two things. First, the customer is coming back to your dealership for
    their service. Second, it makes the customer feel that they are already being “taken
    care” of.

In today’s competitive market, we need to go the extra mile. You need to stand out. In this hard market.
We should make it easier for ourselves by having continuity between your sales and service
departments. It will pay off in increased sales and in customer satisfaction.