19 Apr

Recalls and Marketing Bad News

  • Recall Masters
  • Blog


One of the largest pain points with recalls is completion percentages. In many cases, it’s not by any fault of the manufacturer or dealer that the recall repair compliance percentages are low.  Recall repairs can be hindered by parts availability, procrastinating or apathetic owners, or owners who simply aren’t aware that their vehicle needs attention.

Regardless of why the percentages are low, the fact that a large percentage of vehicle owners are driving around in unsafe vehicles has captured the attention of legislators who are demanding faster progress with the threat of regulation. Manufacturers have taken extreme measures, attempting to educate and reach out to those affected, and they need dealers to assist them.

With 47 million vehicles subject to recall, the opportunity for dealerships to increase service revenue is staggering. Effectively contacting and marketing to the owners, however, can be challenging and, if not done properly, can backfire on a dealership.

Oftentimes, dealerships actively attempt to identify and solicit recall repair work by simply blasting messages to the dealership’s entire DMS. With the huge volume of recalls out there, these mass mailing can result in a poorly timed rush of customers into the service department –all at the same time. This can be detrimental to a dealership if it is unprepared to handle the influx of work. It can also be a huge waste of money if not executed properly.

Many dealerships get overly ambitious in their marketing and cannot handle the recall work that comes in. A well planned recall marketing campaign will see a 3-5{25fe8d719f8aa7fee9d6d1ab25a6c722d6f7475fb64135bdf6c46b52738109f1} response rate (30-50 customers per month coming in for repair for every 1,000 mailers sent out). Factor this into how many customers you market to and it should help to determine how many of these customers you can service based on shop capacity, technician expertise and parts availability.

The worst thing to do is send out a mass mailer and end up with a bunch of upset customers who come in to get a recall repair completed — only to get turned away because you either cannot handle the workload, or there are no parts available. This situation only further inflames the customer and you stand to lose their business for good.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that, as the bearer of bad news, some of these customers will be irritated, upset or fearful. How you communicate and reach out to them with the initial recall communication is just as important as how you handle them when they come to your dealership. Remember, the message you send is that something is wrong with their vehicle – it could even be unsafe to drive. Ultimately, as the face of the manufacturer, consumers will hold your dealership accountable — especially if they purchased their vehicle from you.  So be sensitive to their emotions and ensure your communications are well designed and worded.

Reaching out to these customers in the right way is good for your dealership, the community AND your customers. Every unsafe vehicle you make safe is one less vehicle that could result in an accident – or, sadly, even death. Recall work can be a win-win: You are providing a useful service for your local community and, at the same time, getting compensated.

So, take the time to carefully think out your next recall campaign. Make sure you plan well and are set up to really service the customers you are notifying. Be apologetic, helpful and reassuring when they do call or come in. As a result your customers will be more appreciative and loyal. And that is good for business.  Make your dealership a successful recall center for the local community.


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