"Dealers should remind the consumer that vehicles are complex," he says. "When you buy a product that is complex, you inherently associate [service] expertise with whomever you bought it from. You go to Best Buy, talk to them about a TV, they know something about TVs. 'We have the know-how. You bought the product from us.' Leverage that."
Says Ford's Toney: "People need to understand that we have trained techs with the proper certification. It's about the value, not the total cost. We need to get the message out about the ingredients in the value proposition," he says.
Some of that added value, he says, doesn't show up on the repair bill but includes use of a loaner vehicle or shuttle service, a customer lounge with Wi-Fi and factory-backed parts.
Ads should also convey that the dealer has the right parts in stock, extended service department hours and menu pricing.
Service directors winning back customers who bought vehicles in the post-recession years hold many of the keys to success in the front end of the store, too.
A recent Cox study showed that service is directly tied to new-car sales. Customers who use the dealer's service department are twice as likely to shop that dealer for a new car as customers who get their vehicles serviced elsewhere.
Says Roche: "Dealers more and more are becoming aware that if you are not doing the service, you are much less likely to sell them their next car."