Want To Supercharge Your Service Department? Do this.

The service drive sees more customers than any other department in the dealership. It can also host the defining moments of your customer’s experience. Service to sales is one of the most vital processes you can tap into.

Learn how to turn your dealership’s service department into the profit machine it should be with these service-to-sales strategies:

In this blog, you will discover:

1. Why not all service visits are equal

2. How to develop a process to enhance sales on the service drive

3. The nuts and bolts of the service to sales process

4. Why real-time notifications create a positive customer experience

5. How to develop a service to sales handoff process

6. Why teamwork between departments drives more sales on the service drive

7. Why your customers are at the center of all you do

8. What you get when you leverage a data and equity mining tool

Use Your Best Source to Sell Aging Inventory

Selling aging inventory that takes up space while finding and acquiring in-demand inventory for your customer base is a constant balancing act.

But did you know there’s an often-overlooked department at your dealership that can be your number-one lead source? We are talking about your guaranteed customer connection point – your service drive.

Daily, dozens of upgrade-eligible customers come through the service department, and enormous sales opportunities are missed.

Successful dealers leverage innovative technology and the power of their sales department to provide the best possible customer experience and avoid “leaving money on the table” in the service drive.

Not All Service Visits Are Equal

Service appointments are one of the most controllable business transactions dealerships have. The challenge in realizing the service drive’s sales potential is knowing which customers to reach, when to reach them, and what the right message is at that time.

Reaching buyers in a position to upgrade to a new vehicle in your service drive requires having the right data and processes in place. Then, the right team member to start the conversation and who will continue the conversation beyond the service visit can be identified.

Dealers with the tools to recognize and convert service customers have opportunities for profit-generating sales and increased consumer loyalty.

For another resource, check out the 2024 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study by J.D. Power, which provides great insights into customer service performance to help benchmark service quality against industry standards.

Developing a Process to Enhance Sales on the Service Drive

Data and equity mining are essential to the service-to-sales process but only useful when made actionable. Internal communication tools, like the AutoAlert mobile app, are necessary to alert dealership staff when customers arrive in service.

With a smooth process in place, the assigned dealership representative is notified immediately. The team member reviews the customer’s profile and compares what current incentives could be applied to allow for an easy upgrade opportunity. These opportunities could include:


1. Vehicle Equity

2. Lease Renewal

3. Lower Payment

4. Recalls

5. Warranty Expiration

6. High Repair Costs

7. First Service Customers

8. Defecting Customers

The Nuts and Bolts of the Service to Sales Process

A well-versed team ready to act on actionable data increases the odds of a positive customer experience. Be prepared with the details, communicate value, and set up the next interaction.

Use the following best practices to ensure your team is prepared to deliver the best opportunities to your service-drive customers.

Review upcoming service appointments and use AutoAlert to identify qualified opportunities, such as customers with equity, high vehicle repair costs, and lifestyle changes. Then, based on their data, plan how you will most effectively engage these customers. Review deal sheets, prep deal jackets, and talk to the pre-owned manager about vehicles the customers may be interested in.

Have your presentation sheets ready for your high-opportunity customers. Utilize the AutoAlert suggested word tracks to help guide the conversation and be available in the drive and the lounge. Be prepared to talk to customers about your buy-back program or an upgrade to a newer vehicle. Have point of sales materials ready to present and attach a letter to the invoices of the top equity class service customers upon checkout.

The follow-up is just as important as the prep work and initiating the conversation. You can set up and automate emails to remind customers of the opportunities presented or schedule a call from the manager or a BDC representative to discuss further inventory and payment options. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself if you missed anyone yesterday that you can reach out to today. Don’t forget to document all communication in AutoAlert so that valuable information remains handy for your next opening.

Real-Time Notifications Create a Positive Customer Experience

Modern tools can help identify when a customer is in a good position to buy and provide personalized offers and conversation starters tailored to that individual.

Service customers are at the dealership for a specific need and are not likely to have a new car purchase in mind. Still, they could be receptive to upgrading to a newer vehicle at a similar or lower payment. Relevant offers make the buying process easier for the customer and increase customer loyalty.



Developing a Service to Sales Handoff Process

Customers who enter your dealership should feel that the Sales and Service teams are working together as a customer success team. Communication, collaboration, and accountability are all key to the success of any initiative. A platform that gives managers a clear view of everything happening in the service drive helps to hold their teams accountable for each opportunity.

When your Sales and Service teams collaborate, it becomes easier to identify potential service lane upgrade opportunities. These include customers in equity positions, high service repair costs with in-stock parts, individuals interested in pre-owned vehicles aging on your lot, those in your database who have previously purchased new cars, and individuals exhibiting recent lifestyle changes in their shopping behavior.

Teamwork Between Departments Drives More Sales on the Service Drive

Align your whole dealership with similar goals to achieve success more easily when selling on the service drive. Cooperation and teamwork between Service and Sales are imperative to ensure the smartest and smoothest transactions are being activated.

Consider initiating a growth development plan to set goals and work as a team. Make sure your team is on board with the plan and that their successes are transparent and acknowledged. As always, consistency is key. It’s a daily practice that needs checks and balances and follow-through to see the full benefits.

Your Customers are at the Center of All You Do

Retained customers are the genesis of the bulk of your sales, and your previously sold customers are where your focus should be. You already have the relationship and all the information collected about where they are in their ownership lifecycle inside of their customer profiles, which leads to a more straightforward conversation and sale.

The service drive provides countless ways to build and nurture relationships several times per day. Putting in the extra effort in the service drive to tackle the inventory woes is worth it when the result is wins all around.

Leveraging a Data and Equity Mining Tool Within Your Service Drive Empowers You to:

  • Instantly receive notifications for all incoming sales opportunities, promptly alerting the appropriate team member.
  • Engage with customers through various channels, enabling the delivery of tailored upgrades, including pre-appointments.
  • Access top-quality leads and target specific vehicles for an optimized inventory acquisition strategy, ensuring the best outcomes.
  • Gain insights into your parts inventory. This will allow you to effectively identify and connect with customers needing in-stock parts, ultimately boosting revenue on the back end.

Selling on the service drive is one of the most vital processes for any dealership. We hope you can apply some or all of these best practices to your service-to-sales strategy.

If you are looking to increase your best opportunities in the drive, AutoAlert makes it easy! Learn more about Service Lead Management by AutoAlert.

AutoAlert is much more than just the Alert blocks. All the service appointments that we set come solely out of AutoAlert. We’re currently using AutoAlert in both Service and Sales, and we can sell cars out of the service drive right now because of AutoAlert.

Cassie Smith

BDC Director at Arlington Heights Ford

Take that first step to optimize your Service-to-Sales operations today!