There has been a contradiction that has persisted in the world of automotive marketing for decades. Fixed operations – auto service, parts, and accessories – usually account for the largest portion of a car dealership’s revenue, but it is rarely given more than a miniscule portion of the marketing budget.
Before the digital age, this was due to two things: loyalty and excitement. Car buyers were more likely in the past to have a dealership-of-choice through which they purchased most of their cars as well as had their service performed. The best way to get more service business was to sell more cars and the marketing involved with selling more cars is always more exciting than anything a dealership could do with fixed operations.
Things have changed. The loyalty component is waning in this and many other industries, so relying on sales to drive fixed operations business has lost validity. Dealers that really want to push the needle must make advertising for their fixed operations services a priority. Here are three ways that they can do this:
Nearly every dealership website in the country has a service and parts section on their website, but they are very rarely a focus. The search optimization is normally weak on them and the pages are usually not suitable for PPC advertising.
A solution is to build websites that are specific to fixed operations departments with automotive service being the most obvious option. Automotive website provider DealerOn builds “Service Sites” for their clients that are designed to get service-specific traffic. They have service-relevant lead generating tools on them and they’re devoid of distractions that often fill standard dealer websites.
The natural tendency to stay with one dealership is dying. To combat this, there has been a rise of loyalty marketing that keeps up with current and past customers in order to keep people coming into the same dealership.
There are plenty of services available, but one that stands out is Visible Customer. Like most other services, they compile customer data from dealership management systems, but they differentiate themselves in two ways. First, the parsing and appending of the data makes sense in today’s constantly shifting digital world. Information is moving and Visible Customer seems to be the only one keeping up with the changes.
The other thing that makes them difference is a philosophy that did not make sense in the past but that makes perfect sense today. They do not believe in “service customers” and “sales customers” but rather they believe that everyone is simply a “customer”. This mentality makes sense in a world with lightening loyalty amongst consumers.
This should be obvious. It’s amazing that there are so few dealers taking advantage of this component. Many of the chats that come in overnight pertain specifically to service. Even the simple questions such as “when can I drop off my car in the morning” are important. When chat is offline overnight, people will often look for another dealership that will be able to answer their question.
Service is the type of event that is often a burden to the customer. Being out of their vehicle for a time puts them out. When dealerships are able to communicate with their customers regardless of the time, they have an advantage that can tangibly increase service business.
There are a handful of 24/7 chat companies out there. CarChat24 is the one we like the most. Not only is their managed service constantly on, but they have the most user-friendly interface for those who are trying to chat.
The automotive industry is on the upswing. There will be an increased need for service as more people are buying cars. Dealers that want to be successful with their fixed operations departments will want to do whatever they can to make their departments the most appealing.
This is new ground for the industry. What other marketing practices need to arise to make it even better for both dealerships and their customers?