top of page

"Service Declined" - Too many missed opportunities...

What Happens to... Customers Who “Decline Service” The “Black Hole” of Opportunity Lost?

How you can start to win them back!

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can’t close the sale.

What comes next? Frequently the answer is “nothing”. The potential sale and possibly future business from the customer is sucked into the “black hole” of lost opportunity. The customer departs and the opportunity is gone… more than likely gone forever.

Maybe a “declined service” is recorded in the customer’s history and that’s where it ends.

But why stop there? If you are not taking “more shots on goal” you are missing a golden opportunity to capture the sale and retain the relationship for future business.

Instead of simply recording “Service Declined” (a label that is often interpreted by the customer as some sort of threat or assignment of future blame for failure to maintain their vehicle), how about creating a multi-step phone marketing process to bring some of that high profit work back into the shop?

Most dealerships have no follow through for “Declined Service”!

Assume the average store has about a 32% closing ratio for recommended services. That means 68% of your potential business walks out the door, often forever.

Most efforts, if they exist at all, are little more than a phone call made in a week or so… often offering a discount. Only about 6% of declined services are subsequently sold.

This is compounded by the inability of the person contacting the customer to accurately quote prices. If a customer says “Yes, that discount sounds good. What would that make my total?” … the contact person is usually unable to tell them.

It falls on the advisor to make the additional effort to add the “Declined Services” code and then input repair and pricing details – which rarely happens.

So with all of these challenges, how do we get more follow-up sales from our Declined Services?

Start With Special Operation Codes

Since Operation codes can be linked to marketing, having specific “Declined” operation codes AND employing them is critical.

o Don’t allow advisors to use “99” or Miscellaneous Operation codes because they cannot be tracked.

o Switch your language from “declined” to the softer term “postponed”.

Decline suggests an outright rejection.

"Postpone" suggests that the guest has deferred the service and may be open to it in the future.

o Keep it simple with only two “Postponed” Labor Ops. One each for Customer Pay and Internal work.

It makes sense to track all lost business regardless of the source.

Decide if you want separate “Postponed” labor lines for each lost sale on your repair orders or just one with all the information.

Make a choice and stick to it.

o Understand that more people postpone than buy.

Since the goal is to keep customers from defecting in the first place, tracking postponed repairs enables managers to identify why sales are not being closed and develop corrective actions.

So change the culture and make it safe for advisors to document postponed sales.

Use "Declined Services" as an Opportunity to Build Trust

Perception is reality, and dealerships suffer from the public perception of bad business practices, etc., that they do not trust what you are telling them... regardless of the reality.

And so we continue to lose customers.

So how do we counter this?

o With transparent pricing.

o Ask if what was recommended last visit has been taken care of… maybe somewhere else.

This is especially effective by reviewing the customer’s service history on a PC or tablet during the appointment process as well as during the write–up. Even if the customer postpones the recommendation again, this flow of consistent information builds trust.

o Provide readily available descriptions and price estimates for the postponed services.

What does a Decline/Postponed Operation Code Look Like?

o Op Code: could be “Postpone”. (or similar)

Description: “Customer advised of (describe) repair; Customer postpones at this time.”

o In the body of the Op Code, at the Pre-Invoice stage, the advisor MUST record the following:

What repair is being postponed?

What is the benefit to the customer of the repair?

This is important if the BDC or third party is making the follow up call that they can respond to questions of “why should I have this done?”.

What is the price of the repair?

What is the warranty of the repair? Develop codes to easily describe the warranty. For example

o “1212” = 12 months or 12,000 miles.

o “AF90” = Aftermarket 90 days.

Example of what it might look like:

"Vehicle needs Control Arm replaced.

The control arm allows the vehicle to turn its wheel and pivot, connecting the tire to the car’s suspension. Safety issue.

$596 installed."

There are several more suggestions available on how to effectively follow up with “Services Declined” customers. But first you have to have sufficient data and detail so that your efforts can be successful.

This topic is adapted from just one recommendation from the DealersEdge publication: “Fixed Operations Management Skills Guide.” Receive full details on how you can get a copy via the links below.


390 Pages of Fixed Ops Management Wisdom... and Tabbed for Easy Reference

Financial Analysis Tools for Fixed Ops Mgt

Pricing Formulas for Service and Parts

Service Advisor Coaching

Parts Dept Profit Mgt

Plus What Fixed Ops Managers Need to Know About the Entire Enterprise

15 views0 comments


bottom of page