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Delivering a great vehicle handover experience...

Delivering a great vehicle handover experience... August 27, 2015 by Mike Henshaw

We're only days away in the UK from the new September registrations so there will be many people out there looking forward to the collection, or delivery, of their new vehicle with anticipation and excitement. That should certainly be the case if it is a private purchase and hopefully also for those who are lucky enough to be taking delivery of a new company car.
A new car is an exciting thing - there is nothing like the unique smell of a new interior, the gloss of pristine paintwork, the exploration of features and benefits…
For many people a new car is, quite literally, their pride and joy, so as an industry we must recognise that and put processes in place to ensure that the handover experience  leaves a lasting, positive impression that reinforces the pleasure and feel-good factor of having a new vehicle.
Speaking for myself, I have had quite varied handover experiences which range from absolutely excellent to bordering on indifference. A quick bit of customer research reveals the same disparity. Here are some of the comments I came across:

"From start to finish, the experience was an absolute pleasure. A whole new focus on the customer experience was revealed to me, and it was refreshing to feel like time was being made for me"  

"Nothing. Even had to ask for a coffee!"

"Picking up the new car was also a delight which lived up to the preceding three months of great service and communication. The car was waiting under a cover in a gleaming handover bay at the side of the newly-revamped showroom. A sign with my name on and a full run-down of the car’s features was given. It’s this attitude to customer service and experience that builds confidence in a brand".

"Nothing! I had to hang around whilst the salesman found a working chip and pin machine and when he did the computer was down, so waited 30 mins or so before I could even pay! I just wanted the keys and to be out as soon as possible".

"Mine was great!!! Had a private room for the car to be shown to us where we went over the whole car and what it does, the owner came to shake our hands, a full fuel tank of diesel and to top it all off... a nice bottle of red and a bunch of flowers for my wife."

"Mine did nothing to make the experience memorable, in fact the main thing I will remember is the extreme penny pinching from the dealer…"

"Mine was extremely well engineered; we turned up about half an hour before the agreed time and were made most welcome with a coffee and biscuits. After completing the final paper work we were escorted  to the vehicle which was located in a bright  room, with my vehicle parked in the centre. We then spent some time going through the vehicle controls and then a short break for coffee and cakes.
We took to the road for a quick road test to the fuel station where they filled and paid for a full tank of fuel, back to the showroom and the signature for vehicle handover completed. The whole thing was extremely useful. In the boot they left a branded umbrella, a complete cleaning kit with micro fibre cloths, plus key rings and a soft toy for my daughter; these items were put into the boot whilst signing the vehicle handover form so were  a surprise.
The following day I was phoned by the dealership to ensure everything was satisfactory; was very impressed by the whole vehicle handover experience, and the cakes were lovely!"

Some great experiences detailed there which may give you food for thought as to how to enhance your own handover process, but sadly some negative comments too.
Delivering Your Brand
It's important to remember that the vehicle handover represents the peak of the brand experience. It's not just a car that's being delivered but also a brand - both that of the car itself and your own brand as a dealership.
And, as the last touch point before a customer leaves the dealership it can make a lasting impression, so excellence in every respect is vital.
Great service at handover can lead to increased customer retention - for the service/aftersales side of the business and also when it comes to buying a new car again further down the line.
Key areas to consider
There are several key areas to consider which range from organisational issues to physical infrastructure, facilities and staff behaviour.

1. Set up a diary or schedule for your handovers.
It might seem an obvious statement but I have come across many examples where the collection schedule has been 'fluid' to say the least.
To ensure that each customer gets the time and consideration they surely deserve for their handover, a clear schedule of appointments with an allotted salesperson is vital.

2. Review your team's customer-handling and organisational skills.
How is their customer-oriented behaviour? Is there room for improvement? Is their product knowledge comprehensive? Are they clear on everything they should cover with the customer?
They should be able to:

• Schedule handover appointments in coordination with the sales department.
• Have all the necessary paper work organised and to hand
• Explain to clients all technical and non-technical car related topics
• Maintain high knowledge of vehicle operational features and latest innovations
• Conduct test drives with clients when required
• Establish a friendly rapport and upbeat mood to put the customer in a positive frame of mind about the whole experience

3. Vehicle handover area and 'event'.
Each dealership's space and available facilities will vary, but a minimum is to ensure a clean, bright, well decorated and branded area.
If the handover area is looking a bit tired, allocate or request some budget to give it a refresh and think about some special touches like, for example, a red carpet, spotlights…  
Ensure the handover is personalised to the customer; I saw a nice example where the car was presented with a cover printed with the words "I'm ready to go home now", together with a placard to the side of the car featuring the customer's name.
Extra touches such as unexpected gifts of car-related products and accessories are good too.  
And ask your team for their suggestions and input as to what you can do at handover to differentiate you as a brand and dealership and turn it into not just a handover but a memorable 'event'.

The handover process varies hugely from country to country and franchise to franchise. Most now acknowledge the importance of the task, but  the quality of the event is still down to each sales person taking the time to plan and execute the process. Some of you will see the above performance suggestions as incredibly basic. Other markets may consider the ideas to be ‘just what is needed’.
Whichever your current position is, one thing is common. The handover process is acknowledged as having a huge impact on the customer experience. Customers’ remember handover, and it is proven that the event is a major influence on future purchases and referrals.  As a sales person you may have multiple contacts with a customer up to handover, but it is the actual handover that is remembered long after the event.
When customer expectations are exceeded at the handover there is likely to be a positive impact on revenues due to customer retention, cross-selling and new customer acquisition as a result of recommendation.
And even if if you have a handover procedure designed by the OEM with clear guidelines as to structure, presentation and styling it's always good to review and fine tune. After all, you only get one go at a handover and it needs to be good!

Learn how to perfect this vital element of the sales process. Check out and take a close look at section 7 of the  Sales Process training module. Get this right and look forward to your customers coming back again, and telling their friends what a great experience you provided.



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