‘Reverse early-bird special’ alleviates Ariz. store’s service problems

Marketing

Findlay Subaru Prescott is giving customers inclined to show up for an oil change first thing in the morning incentive to wait a few hours.

The Arizona dealership has a reverse early-bird special for routine services.

On weekdays between 1 and 5 p.m., customers who bring their vehicles in for service may be greeted with a discounted oil change or a free tire rotation.

Dave Macfarlane, the store’s general manager, said the special was launched in hopes of fixing a lingering issue: morning backlogs in the service department.

“Our average client is probably 70 years old,” Macfarlane said. “The problem is, they all want to get up first thing in the morning, come in and get their oil changes and everything done. So we are bombed in the morning. And it’s a morgue in the afternoon. We came up with this reverse early-bird to entice them to come more in the afternoon than the morning.”

Customers don’t need to bring in a coupon, Macfarlane noted, adding that if a customer shows up during the 1-to-5 p.m. time slot, they automatically get the discount that’s being offered that day.

Oil change discounts during the reverse early-bird special vary, Macfarlane said. Sometimes it’s $10 off, $15 off, $20 off or even at cost, he noted.

For “a lot of senior citizens on fixed incomes, that’s a big deal to them,” he said. “If they can save 10 or 20 bucks on an oil change, they’ll show up for that all day long.”

Macfarlane said discounts are switched up throughout the week to keep the special fresh.

The reverse early-bird special became a regular component of the dealership’s service department last January.

Macfarlane said the store experimented with the promotion when the dealership moved to its current location in 2018. The dealership is around 25,000 square feet, which is more than double the size of the previous store, he said.

With the move to a bigger space, expenses also increased, Macfarlane said. So the dealership looked for ways to be more efficient throughout the day.

“Our service bay has to be really efficient,” he said. “A lot of Subaru dealerships have 25, 30 stalls. Our dealership has 12. Each stall has eight hours a day, so you’ve got to keep those stalls efficient to maximize your dollars in the shop.”

Roughly one year into running the special, Macfarlane said the approach is paying dividends and there’s no longer a lull in the afternoon.

“It’s bringing more people in,” he said. “We’re able to help more people during the day. Our [repair order] count is up 50 percent over last year. That’s a big increase.”

Findlay Subaru Prescott sells around 110 new and used vehicles combined per month, Macfarlane said. It’s part of Findlay Automotive Group in Henderson, Nev., which ranks No. 27 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with 29,321 new-vehicle retail sales in 2019.

In addition to helping increase service business, the promotion has alleviated wait times for customers, Macfarlane said.

Since adding the reverse early-bird special, the dealership’s customer satisfaction scores have increased. “The less time they wait, the happier they are,” he said.

Before, when a majority of its customers would arrive for service in the morning and thus create a backlog and extend wait times, the dealership saw its customer satisfaction scores plummet.

Findlay Subaru Prescott’s net promoter scores have also increased since it added the promotion. Macfarlane said those scores measure whether customers would recommend the dealership to friends and family.

“It’s not just about getting people in the door and making money,” he said. “But it’s getting them in the door, getting them out the door in a reasonable amount of time and having them feel like it was an extraordinary experience.”

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