When selling any kind of product or service, it's a much easier sell if the customer can see, feel, touch or smell the product. The same principal applies to selling service work.

Letting the customer see, first hand what services are needed can substantially improve the chances of selling service work. That's why service-drive vehicle walk-arounds are effective.

In most cases, the only time the customer is face to face with the service advisor is when the vehicle is brought in for service. This is probably the only time the customer will actually be able to physically see what services are actually needed and that's why the service walk around is so important.

The walk around is the one chance the service advisor has to point out needed service work and show the customer first hand what's needed. In order to take advantage of selling service while the advisor is face to face with the customer, the walk around should be as comprehensive as possible.

One of the best ways to ensure that the walk around is as thorough is to create a checklist. That should be part of the process for customer handling on the service drive.

The basic concept is to let the customer know first-hand what service work is needed. Selling needed service work on the drive, with the customer present, can increase the likelihood of an up sell.

When a customer has a specific concern, in most cases the technician needs to diagnose the concern. The service advisor quotes a diagnosis charge, notes the concern on the repair order and the repair is then up sold once the diagnosis is complete.

When the advisor performs a walk-around, they're looking for additional service work that's unrelated to the customers concern. Ideas for the walk-around checklist need to be simple, fast and easily performed on the service drive. With this in mind, some ideas for the walk around checklist may include

  • Tire depth
  • Fluid condition
  • Fluid leaks
  • Paint and body work
  • Battery and alternator
  • Tire wear
  • Belts and hoses
  • Detail
  • Wiper blades

All these issues allow the customer to touch, feel, and smell or see what service work is actually needed. Tire depth and wear issues can lead to an up sell of tires, alignment and shocks. A battery tester can be easily be used to check the condition of the battery and alternator.

For fluid conditions, show the customer what clean fluids look like compared to their dirty fluids. Put different clean fluids in a small glass vile as a sample for comparison. Suggest a fluid replacement service or a fluid flush.

Some of these issues may require further diagnosis. That's fine. The important thing is that the customer realizes, without a doubt, that the concerns raised by the service advisor are verified and valid.

If the service drive is extremely busy, the advisors may be more reluctant to do a thorough walk-around. If the service department uses a service advisor assistant or a service greeter, let them help with the walk around.

Arm the assistant or greeter with a walk-around checklist, battery tester and tire depth gauge.

After the checklist is completed, the assistant can report any needed service to the advisor. The advisor can then communicate any findings with their customer and show them what's needed.

Utilizing an assistant will also give the advisors more time to concentrate on other important tasks like reviewing vehicle history. It will also allow the advisors more time to review the customers concerns and up selling additional work.

With the decrease of retail service traffic in many dealerships these days, it's important to be as efficient as possible with the customers that we do get in the service drive. A comprehensive and thorough walk-around is one great method to increase parts and labor sales per repair order.