Build Customer Trust with Transparent Fixed Ops Prices and Practices

Aug 23, 2021
Juan Flores, Sr. Director of Product at Kelley Blue Book

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Gain customer trust, gain a lifetime customer. This adage is true in any industry, but it’s especially true in business segments that have an elevated level of mistrust; and unfortunately, whether true or not, this often includes a car dealership’s service, parts and body shop.  

When it comes to dealership service centers, many potential customers have a negative perception. 

74% of consumers are likely to purchase their next vehicle from the same dealer they service their vehicle with, but 71% defect from their dealership’s service bays by the fifth year of ownership.?

Because vehicle owners typically aren’t very savvy or well-informed when it comes to service maintenance and repairs, they often turn to independent shops which are viewed as cheaper, just as good and more personal. In fact, dealers still only capture one out of every three service visits, according to a Cox Automotive Dealership Service Study.? That means it’s critical for you to gain and maintain that all-important service market share. 

Fixed operations is a major revenue opportunity for dealers, and it needs to be an area of focus to succeed in today’s market. You need to build that trust. You need that lifetime customer. You need to gain that market share.  

To leap this customer hurdle and win the trust trophy, you need to first understand today’s customers and their objections. Then work to overcome those objections by building a meaningful relationship and leveraging trusted partners like Kelley Blue Book. 

What do service and repair customers expect? 

Today’s consumers are experts at online shopping. They compare products and prices as well as conduct research as part of their purchase consideration process. During the pandemic, they became even more comfortable completing the steps of a big purchase — like a vehicle — online.  

In fact, almost two-thirds of shoppers report that they are open to buying a car 100% online now.? And if they’re open to it, they expect it. Consumers expect online options for all of their needs, including researching and comparing automotive service providers, easy online scheduling, service pickup/delivery and transparent pricing.  

And it’s up to dealerships to meet customer needs when it comes to online options — and this is where you have an opportunity to win.  

As digital solutions in the auto industry become the new normal, dealerships should focus on expanded transparency in the fixed ops side of their house in order to reach service shoppers virtually. I wrote more about this topic in this Wards Auto article.   

How to build a relationship with your service and repair customers 

Pricing concerns are top reasons consumers don’t use dealerships for service, regardless of whether or not the pricing is in line with independent offerings for common maintenance and repairs.? There is a perception bias or misinformation that pricing between dealerships and independents vary significantly — but this is not the case. This misaligned perception creates an opportunity for you to build trust by delivering quality service and value to the customer.   

By providing solutions that help shoppers understand how to properly maintain their vehicle and what to expect when bringing it in for service, dealers can become a go-to resource for car owners. For example, this blog post has a Kelley Blue Book-branded maintenance checklist you can use for your summer service marketing campaigns. 

Leveraging trusted consumer partners, like Kelley Blue Book, can help you change the negative customer perception about dealership fixed operations prices. KBB.com’s Service & Repair Pricing Guide has seen over 12 million visits this year, and nearly 70,000 clicks to check service and repair pricing for their vehicle in the last 30 days.? Customers trust Kelley Blue Book to give them a fair and transparent price — and that trust can translate to your trust.  

The Service & Repair Pricing Guide helps customers get answers to their top service and repair questions, and is designed to guide them through four primary service and repair categories: recalls, maintenance, repairs and common service problems. With KBB.com’s Service & Repair Pricing Guide and Fair Repair Range, Kelley Blue Book is helping bridge the trust and transparency gap in dealership fixed operation. See how the experience works.  

Best practices for service and repair relationships

While these solutions are helping combat the many consumer objections to taking their car to the dealership for service and repair, it’s still up to you to take the steps to lean into your fixed operations. You still need to provide a high level of service and a positive customer experience throughout the process. Here are some best practices:  

  1. Ensure your prices are competitive in the market and include as many repair prices as possible on your website. Make it easy for customers to find what they need and begin to conquest new customers. 
  1. Implement a system to offer transparent and fair pricing, as well as accurate pricing insights. Leveraging tools like KBB.com’s Fair Repair Range can help you meet and even exceed customer expectations. In addition to offering online service scheduling, differentiate yourself by offering online pricing with an estimated repair price quote. Just like retailers only show pricing once you add items to your cart, you can offer the same experience once a customer has selected a vehicle and specific service. Remember, your customers expect to do as much of the service process online as possible, so let them. 
  1. Offer digital customer presentations (like quotes and reviews) to add transparency to the inspection process. Include pictures and video and consider a virtual walkthrough. Customers are smart and they want to see what they’re going to pay for; they are less likely to balk at your price when they understand the cost breakdown.  
  1. Consider drop-off and pickup options. These services became essential during pandemic lockdowns and with social distancing protocols, but this is one area where you can enhance the overall perception of your dealership and service bay — and build a strong relationship.   

If you focus on transparency as a trust-builder and apply these best practices, you can give your service department a competitive advantage — and gain lifetime customers that will translate directly to revenue.  

We can help you find the right strategy for your dealership’s fixed ops