Franchised dealer groups are being urged to exploit the potential of call centres to win aftersales market share from independent garages, according to automotive specialist Coachworks Consulting.
The international consultancy believes separating call handling from the service desk can be a catalyst for increased revenue and improved customer retention when done well.
But it believes too many businesses are investing more than £100,000 in call centre infrastructure without putting in place procedures and leadership that maximise benefits.
Karl Davis, managing director of Coachworks Consulting, said: “Too many franchises are losing too many customers at the very point those customers start to deliver real profit to retailers and manufacturers alike.
“If the franchises are going to stop the march of the independents then they have to do more to retain clients – especially as warranties start to expire.
“Call centres can give franchised repairers a significant advantage over the independents, but only if they are manned by a team that is well-led, well-motivated and well-trained.”
The advice comes after a recent study by Castrol Professional Services showed that by 2013 dealers are likely to lose £85.6 million in aftersales – or 4% of the market – because of a drop in new car sales and aggressive pricing from independent garages.
Coachworks believes franchises should consider introducing competitions which drive up performance, employing operatives who show natural empathy with customers and allowing team members to critique their own performance after listening to recordings of their own call handling.
Other tips include allowing enough time for outbound calls to win back lapsed customers and accepting that expensive IT systems can only accelerate good people, process and performance, not create it.
Davis said: “Our research shows that, on average, four- to six-year-old vehicles generate twice the profit of one- to three-year-old vehicles.
“This makes it doubly important that older cars are retained by franchised repairers through appropriate incentive and retention tools such as service plans and extended warranties.
“Amber work identified during the VHC, followed up in a timely fashion with a call to the customer using a scripted but natural-sounding word track, is essential in these difficult economic times.”