June 5, 2020 Last updated June 5th, 2020 67 Reads share

Tips for Effectively Managing Your Dealership’s Loaner Car Program

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For many dealerships, a fundamental way to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction is to have a loan car program, so people who need services or other work done on their vehicles aren’t stuck without wheels for days.

However, you need to manage these programs efficiently, so they don’t cost you more than they’re worth or cause too many headaches. Follow some key tips to keep things flowing optimally.

Utilize Tech Tools

Make life easier on yourself by utilizing the many tech tools on the market that can help you manage your loaner cars. For example, using relevant software programs, you can set up automated communications with customers. These messages, whether emails or texts, can update clients on factors like vehicle availability, pick-up and drop-off locations, rules about usage, and notifications when client cars are ready. Setting up these processes reduces the amount of time your staff needs to spend on communications, reduces the chance of mix-ups, and keeps customers in the loop.

It’s also helpful to take advantage of affordable connected car devices that make it quicker to tell, at a glance, the location and status of all your loaner cars. These kinds of programs can typically help you track mileage and maintenance on vehicles, tell if they’re overdue for return, and see when to move cars from location to location if you have multiple dealerships or warehouses. In turn, such software can help you to cut costs and improve the customer experience.

Leverage the Value of Programs

Running a loaner car program costs your dealership a significant amount of money each year, so make sure you extract the optimum value from it. Train staff members to use the availability of loaner vehicles as a way to help close sales and convert service bookings. For example, your team can offer loaners rather than discounts when people are thinking about whether or not to book their vehicles in for work, particularly if the expected wait time for services or repairs is longer than initially hoped.

Another way to use your loaner program is to have it help relieve waiting room pressure. During times when your service team falls behind, for instance, reduce the likelihood of having disgruntled customers (who might vent their frustrations online, publicly) by offering them a car to drive until their own vehicle is ready.

Establish Clear Guidelines for Customer Usage

To reduce potential issues with your loaner program, establish clear guidelines for customers when using one of your vehicles. Most people drive respectfully, pay tolls and petrol as asked, and return cars to dealerships promptly and unharmed. However, the reality is that you’re also likely to get some people who abuse the program.

Establish guidelines and go through these with customers before they get the keys to a loaner. You need to know they have read/heard the rules and acknowledge and understand them. Provide all the necessary information, including what happens if they don’t follow the guidelines, but also keep the details as simple as possible. You don’t want people to get bogged down in lots of legalese.

It’s a good idea, too, to try to determine what’s going on when people take advantage of your dealership. Is it that they’re merely inconsiderate, or that they misunderstood the information because it was too complicated, or handed to them after they already had the keys and didn’t think it was important? Do they know about penalties for returning a vehicle late or damaged? Or did they have to bring a car back late because their vehicle was behind schedule in your workshop?

Look for ways to reduce the likelihood of the same kinds of problems happening again and again. Get feedback from your service team and clients. Note, though, that sometimes you’ll have chronic abusers on your hands who are not going to change. In this case, it’s usually best to remove them from the program and explain the rules they violated, more than once, to get to that point.

Promote the Program

Lastly, don’t forget to promote your car loaner program, so all your current and potential clients know about it. This part of your operation can help you build a service brand and stand out from competitors that don’t offer such options. Mention the program on your company website, social media pages, and advertisements. Plus, ensure your salespeople clearly communicate it at various points in the customer’s journey.

A vehicle loaner program is an additional operational factor to manage each month, it’s true, but this set up can also have many benefits. Follow the tips listed above to help you maximize the program’s value for your dealership today.

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Clayton Richard

Clayton Richard

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