Vehicle Health Checks (VHCs) are a valuable tool for dealerships – but many aren’t taking advantage of them. In this blog we’ll explain how they can improve customer satisfaction and revenue in your dealership.
Quick show of hands: who knows what a VHC is? And if you do, keep your hand up if your dealership uses them.
According to research Autino conducted in 2020, the number of people with their hands in the air should be a little over half. 44% of the dealerships we spoke to don’t send VHCs to customers at all.
What's a VHC?
For those not in the know, a VHC is a simple report that garages can use to identify issues on a vehicle and flag them to a customer. Taking about 20-30 minutes to complete, a VHC involves a mechanic inspecting various elements of the car and reporting any issues they find – typically using a traffic light system where green is good, amber signifies a non-urgent issue, and red signifies an urgent issue.
They aren’t mandatory as part of MOTs or services, but many garages do offer them. In fact, some go beyond the written report and provide customers with images or even video to augment the VHC.
The benefits of VHCs for dealerships
"Dealership customers were less likely to report that they were satisfied with their last visit to the dealership than customers of independent or fast-fit garages."
“Oh great,” you might be thinking, “more work for us.” Well yes, they do add a little more time on to the job, but VHCs can deliver concrete benefits to dealerships.
Commercially speaking, VHCs can help dealerships to increase revenue by identifying legitimate additional work that needs carrying out on a customer’s vehicle. It’s no secret that most customers these days don’t undertake even basic car maintenance tasks – mostly because they simply don’t know how to look after their cars. The VHC lets you flag maintenance issues to customers, increasing the chance of your dealership being asked (and paid) to resolve those issues.
More importantly, VHCs demonstrate to customers that you are actively helping them to maintain their car. They demonstrate caring and empathy, and can help to build customer loyalty and satisfaction – especially if you identify an issue that has the potential to escalate in the future if not fixed now. Given that our research also indicated that dealership customers were less likely to report that they were satisfied with their last visit than customers of independent or fast-fit garages, anything that can be done to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty should be taken seriously.
How can I get started?
There’s no official format for VHCs, though many dealer groups will have a template available. You can make one yourself if you want to, though there are several off-the-shelf VHC solutions on the market too. Bearing in mind what we’ve just said about increasing satisfaction and loyalty, however, there are a few things to consider.
The way the VHC is presented is just as important as the information it contains. A VHC written up on a dirty napkin, or hastily scrawled on some letterhead paper, doesn't send a good message about your approach to quality (plus, the customer is likely to lose the report among their other paperwork).
Email is another option – one that just 7% of our survey respondents used. It’s certainly less likely to get lost than a handwritten note (though it might go into their spam filter). It does however limit your options in how you present information to your customer. If you wanted to use video to show them issues that you find, for instance, it's unlikely that you'll be able to send these via email as most email servers have a maximum size of attachment you can send.
Part of the dealership of the future
The world of technology is fast catching up with all garages, and car dealerships especially. Our research showed that customers are increasingly expecting a slick, digital-first customer service experience when they deal with you, and that’s making dealers up and down the country rethink how they handle aftersales. VHCs aren’t a new tool; they’ve been around for years. But the way they’re delivered to customers needs to be considered carefully to ensure that the VHC forms part of the same great customer experience that you’re providing at your dealership.
If you’re not already sending VHCs, it’s definitely time to ask yourself why not – and to investigate how you can do so, to unlock the benefits VHCs bring. If you are already sending VHCs, that’s great. But ask yourself: is the way you manage VHCs in line with what your customers are expecting from you right now?
For more discussion on what information customers are expecting from you and your dealership, check out our blog Are you providing customers with all the information they need?
Slick VHCs that include video and prioritise a smooth user experience are just part of providing a service experience that feels premium. Download our white paper The Psychology of Buying Premium to learn more ways you can make your customers feel they’ve got the gold star treatment.