It’s been a date at the forefront of dealers’ minds since the government first announced its roadmap out of lockdown, and 12th April has finally arrived, with showroom doors open once more. Ahead of the grand reopening day, RTC Chief Operating Officer Richard Robinson wrote an article for Motor Trade News, reflecting on the excitement of being able to welcome customers into their showrooms again, and why these renewed sales opportunities shouldn’t eclipse other services.

In the article, Robinson acknowledged the great strides dealers have taken towards digitisation over the past 12 months, but referenced the fact that several industry figureheads are hailing a bounce back that physical shoppers could bring. However, he warned:

“There’s little doubt that the return of physical shoppers to showrooms will provide a boost, but we need to be careful that this boost does not come at the expense of other dealership services.”

Robinson continued:

“Restarting physical new car sales need not – and should not – be detrimental to aftersales. After all, this has been possibly the only uninterrupted source of business since the first lockdown. In the intervening period, dealerships worked hard to shift to a business model where aftersales took a greater priority. If we simply shift back, we lose the fruit of those endeavours – and lose aftersales as a stable and important revenue stream.”

But how can dealers create a new model with sales and aftersales supporting each other as part of a joint strategy? Here are our top tips:

5 tips for keeping aftersales strong post-lockdown

  1. Improve data accuracy: Getting your records right will not only prevent wasted time (contacting the wrong customers, missing renewal windows, etc.), but it can also bring new opportunities – allowing you to send out more targeted and personalised communications.
  2. Improve data visibility: Having customer data is one thing. Using it to its maximum potential is another. Flagging key information, such as previous advisories or upcoming service intervals, will help your team discover upselling opportunities at the time they can make the most impact.
  3. Reconcile deferred work records: And talking of opportunities – during lockdown, cash-strapped customers may have put off expensive repair jobs (not to mention deferred MOT tests from 2020). With the situation easing and a summer of ‘staycations’ on the horizon, they are more likely to book important work in – so now’s the time to put these deferral records to use!
  4. Integrate your back-end systems: Linking up your teams will help save them time, and help you maximise both sales and aftersales opportunities. Connecting your sales management, aftersales management and dealer management software (DMS) will also give your customers a seamless digital journey through every stage of car ownership. Win, win!
  5. Offer contactless options: Self check-in and checkout are still critical – customer awareness of hygiene and distancing will remain for some time. More than that, it’s about convenience. Customers are used to receiving a ‘click and collect’ service for all manner of goods; they will appreciate it and come to expect it from the aftermarket too.

Best of both worlds

As we’ve seen, there are some practical steps dealer principals and aftersales managers can take to improve their aftersales prospects from 12 April – without unduly adding to workloads.

The return of in-person retail is a major milestone – so why not extract the maximum benefit from it by integrating it with your other business activities? Everyone who buys a new car from you is a new customer entering the aftermarket in the future. With accurate customer records, robust processes and a customer-first approach, you can use sales to drive maximum opportunities for aftersales in subsequent years.

It’s imperative to maximise every opportunity to bring in business and make up for lost time. Let’s put our efforts to use and create a new dealership model that makes aftersales as much of a priority as retail – getting the most out of both, rather than conflicting priorities.

Robinson concluded:

“By adopting an integrated, digitally-led strategy, you can retain aftersales’ vital contribution while adding the long-awaited benefit of physical retail – a true ‘best of both worlds’ for dealerships.”

Find out more about how our digital solutions can help you here.