For some dealerships, the detail department is a means to prepare a vehicle for sale or for a complimentary carwash after the vehicle has been serviced — detailing is treated as a cost of sales. The detailing department can be a revenue-generating part of the business by leveraging existing assets and resources to generate sales. Dealerships should treat the detailing department the same as they do the service or sales departments — a means to increase sales.
There are several opportunities in which the detailing department can financially benefit the dealership: prepping the vehicle for sale, offering detail services when a vehicle is brought in for mechanical services or as a stand-alone retail service for customers who want their car detailed. Focusing on one or more of these areas is an excellent way to boost sales for the dealership, increase dealership retention and at the same time increase customer satisfaction.
Preparing a Vehicle for Resale
The adage of “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” applies to prepping used vehicles for sale. Before a customer sits behind a wheel for a test drive, they are already making their purchase decision based on the physical condition of the vehicle.
In side-by-side comparisons of used cars — with the same model, age and mileage — a dealership that invests in a reconditioning process by trained detailing technicians is more likely to result in a sale versus a dealership that only performs a basic detailing job. This can result in a dealership realizing a higher resale value of up to $1,500. Customers today are more discriminating and demand perfection.
A complete and detailed list of detailing services performed on the vehicle can be a part of the sales process and demonstrate the commitment the dealership has in providing a quality product.
Detailing & Reconditioning as an Add-On Service
Identifying opportunities for automotive detailing and reconditioning can take place when a vehicle is brought to the dealership for service. When a vehicle is checked into the service department, the service manager can conduct a quick inspection and can recommend that the customer speak with the detailing manager about detailing and reconditioning services.
These services can include a quick interior/exterior detailing job for a nominal charge or a more extensive service that includes buffing a vehicle to remove scratches and swirl marks, deep cleaning the interior of the vehicle to remove stains and odors or restoring weathered headlights. Don’t limit offering these detailing services to only when a vehicle is checked in for mechanical service. If a dealership has a collision center, detailing services can also be offered when a vehicle is repaired to truly bring a vehicle back to like-new condition, both inside and out.
Detailing & Reconditioning as a Stand-Alone Service
Customers have pride in their vehicles and who better to detail it than the dealership they purchased their vehicle from or where they get it serviced? A complete, quality detailing job from a trained department can result in hundreds of dollars in revenue per vehicle. And most owners who have their car detailed have it done up to twice a year over the time they own the car. For the consumer, the dealership is a convenient way to get their vehicle detailed, especially as other work is being completed.
In my years of experience, I have seen that dealerships with detail departments realize incremental revenue by utilizing assets that are already in place. I have also seen that having a trained detail department located within the dealership increases customer satisfaction with the dealership as the customer can get everything completed for their vehicle in one location.