Picking up and returning customer vehicles for service visits isn't new for the group, but the pandemic sped up interest in getting better at it, Wise said.
"Most people don't want to come into the service department to get their car serviced," Wise told Automotive News. "They want to get on with their lives and do their thing, or stay at work and continue to work. And [we've] got to make that as convenient as possible."
Wise, 43, spoke with Staff Reporter Lindsay VanHulle about seeking vendors and creating a convenient customer experience and why dealerships have been slower than other retail sectors to embrace technology. Here are edited excerpts.
On creating a seamless process: In any online customer tool, you want to find the balance between helping the customer along the process without it being too intrusive — you know, three different pop-ups, constantly asking for their information.
What I think we're all trying to get to is more of a passive approach — [where] we don't seem so aggressive in getting their information so we can call them back. If they want to do the whole thing online and they don't want to talk to somebody, we should be able to provide a solution that can seamlessly get them there. I see often still maybe a little clunkiness with that, where the solution is asking maybe not the right question at the right time, which might turn a customer off.
[When] a customer comes into the store, we assist them. You don't try to overly sell them anymore. You try to answer their questions, you guide them through the process, you show them what's available. It's kind of that comfortable process where hopefully you start to change mindsets. I feel like we're really getting there. We're doing a really good job with our people. But now it's a matter of finding those online solutions that do the same thing.
On technology tools for service pickup and drop-off: We still let everybody know we have that — hangtags in the service lanes when they pick up their car to remind them. But we still don't have the tools — the text messaging capability — yet to really get it to the next level, where we're communicating kind of like a [business development center]. We're interviewing vendors. We're talking about the things that we're going to need, [such as] how are we going to find more drivers? We're just not quite there yet.
It'll be an in-house scheduling service on our side. It'll integrate with the website. A customer might be able to pick a time they want. As soon as they pick a time, it notifies us.
We confirm the appointment, get the driver, tell them we're going to be there and away you go. It's kind of like when you make an appointment with an Apple adviser. There's no reason why we can't do that, either.