Vehicle Service Contracts Remain A Popular Choice Thanks To Their Flexibility

By: Jeff Hatch

February 23, 2016

Having a vehicle service contract (VSC) gives you added peace of mind while taking away the risk of an expensive and unexpected repair bill. But as vehicle design starts to evolve even further, the appeal of a VSC continues to change as well.  

More dealerships are finding that consumers are less worried about mechanical failure and are more focused on in-vehicle technology. That’s not to say that there’s not a need for component coverage on items such as the transmission and engine — far from it. It’s just that as cars are being built with more electronics and connectivity features, items like navigation systems and Bluetooth technology are becoming more of a focus for customers interested in a VSC.     

In a 2014 study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), in-vehicle technology was cited as an important factor when purchasing a new vehicle for more than half (59 percent) of U.S. drivers. The same study also found that two in five consumers (42 percent) stated that they intended to buy an in-vehicle technology device or accessory within a year. 

Fast forwarding to the present day, another study was just released that helps provide even further insight into VSC/automotive purchasing habits. According to a recent DealerRater survey question supplied by Automotive News, 30 percent of consumers said that they bought a service contract on their most recent vehicle purchase. Taking a deeper dive, here are some additional findings from the survey:

26 percent of new-vehicle buyers purchased service contracts 
40 percent of used-vehicle buyers purchased service contracts
33 percent of consumers who visited a dealership for service bought a service contract 
21 percent of all respondents purchased GAP protection, which was the next best-selling F&I product 
12 percent or less of all respondents purchased F&I products such as tire and wheel, prepaid maintenance, paint protection and coverage for alarm systems 

Advanced features and safety systems cost more to replace if they malfunction, so a VSC makes good sense if your vehicle features the latest state-of-the-art technology. And even if it doesn’t, a service contract is still a great option for covering the major components of your vehicle. Plus, a VSC gives your vehicle greater resale value. If you plan on selling your car or truck after a few years, keep in mind that you can get a higher price for it if it’s backed by a VSC. 

So, yes, car design has evolved and will continue to do so. But on the flipside, so have VSCs. Service plans have become more flexible, which allows every consumer to find the perfect fit for their budget and the way they drive. And this key advantage in how VSCs are designed allows consumers to stay out of the red and on the road a lot longer.  

Filed Under: automotive, consumer, contract, resale, service, technology, value, vehicle, VSC

Top 10 Ways To Improve ESP Attachment Rates On The Retail Floor

By: Jeff Hatch

November 23, 2015

In the world of extended service plans (ESPs), extended warranties, or service and parts replacement programs, many consumers have become immune to the common tactics used to sell these programs. In fact, if your sales team is still selling the “what if” scenario to today’s ultra educated consumers, your store is losing out on valuable sales that help drive high-margin growth and revenue.
 
According to NBC News, extended warranties help fuel a booming $15 billion-a-year business; therefore, it’s imperative that retail sales personnel hone their sales approaches for “add on” sales such as ESPs. Through ongoing training and education, sales teams are better able to overcome “new” objections to these profitable plans and figure out which plan best suits the consumer’s need.
 
The below selling strategies are simple, but effective ways to help your sales team illustrate the value of ESPs and therefore convert more consumers:

  1. Get consumers’ attention — By stating the obvious such as, “This product is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty for only one year,” you may pique the consumer’s interest enough to have him/her asking more about warranty coverage.
  2. Listen to consumers’ answers — It seems simple, but often sales representatives get so busy pushing sales out the door, they don’t hear what consumers really want to know more about. If a representative addresses some of the comments consumers share during the sales process, then consumers may be more inclined to listen to sales talk about protection plans. Remember, always address consumers’ objections and point out how ESPs overcome the objection.
  3. Give options — Often consumers may be more inclined to purchase extended coverage if they know they have options. This puts them in the driver’s seat to select the coverage that best suits their needs. For example, offer extended or standard warranty coverage and let them ask questions about the difference, which will lead to the sale of a plan that they believe in.
  4. Stay positive — Much like in life, if you focus on the positives, you’ll more likely receive favorable feedback. Focusing on the strong features and benefits of the ESP, consumers may find the up front fee is well worth the investment.
  5. Expert source — Provide consumers with sales representatives’ credentials or the training they receive prior to selling on the floor. (This is most effective if the store posts signs on the floor about the quality of its staff.) In doing so, when a sales member states, “In my experience, ESPs are essential,” the consumer has a frame of reference for why this is a quantifiable statement. Testimonials are another great way to communicate value and benefits (leverage your personal experiences, your customer, your store’s customer, etc.).
  6. Brands that matter — We’ve all fallen victim to the brand game at one point in our lives and consumers are no different. Consumers generally buy the brands they think represent quality or status and frown upon unknown brands. But while some brands make a great washing machine, they may not make a great TV and it shows in the manufacturer warranty details (especially parts and labor). Your staff needs to know the details of the manufacturer warranties just as well as the ESP to help drive home the value extended coverage offers.
  7. Explain the fine print — Helping consumers better understand what’s covered, what’s not and why makes your sales staff their ally. This type of dialogue not only builds trust, but also gives sales staff an opportunity to reveal some of the holes in the manufacturer’s warranty. 
  8. Think about it — Once consumers have all the facts about the warranties or ESPs, it’s okay to let them think about their options. Have them walk around the store, talk to their spouse/significant other or speak with customer service representatives about the items they see coming back or how much it costs to repair various products. Often, a different source can be a welcomed change of pace for consumers who don’t want to fall victim to “sales hype.”
  9. Recommend it — If you believe in it, your customers will too. Familiarize yourself with the features and benefits and remind customers how costly repairs or replacements can be if they’re not backed by an ESP.  
  10. Ask “why not” an ESP — Sometimes the most obvious questions go unasked such as “Why wouldn’t you want to protect your purchase?” or, “What’s holding you back?” Once your sales staff knows the answer to why, they may be able to employ any number of sales tactics to sell or attach an ESP. 

ESPs add significantly to a retail organization’s bottom line because they don’t require inventory space or carrying costs and they offer high margins. Many consumers are receptive to buying ESPs, but they do need to be convinced to add a plan to their basket and are looking to your sales staff to communicate the features and benefits of the plans, as well as your organization’s commitment behind the plans. Sharpening your sales strategies — on and off the sales floor — is a critical step to increasing ESP sales and enhancing the value these plans bring to consumers.

Filed Under: benefits, extended, plans, retail, sales, service, value