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Denim Simkins

Denim Simkins Director, Fixed Ops

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3 Areas to Target For Your First Fixed Ops Digital Marketing Spend

Over seventy percent of our customers perform research online prior to making a purchase decision. Forty percent will perform research online but purchased offline, and thirty percent will research online and then purchase online. Both of those segments bring two different opportunities for our service and part business.5dce125d61da6df240f893b4ef4af238.jpg?t=1

For those that research online and then purchase offline are the hand raisers we are looking for. These customers are looking for more information online so they are educated and make the right decision when they visit the store.  The biggest area of opportunity would be to target branded search terms such as Ford Taurus alternator or Nissan tires or Honda oil change.

Branded search term (BST) such as “Ford water pump” or “Honda timing belt” would help generate sales over the front parts counter. These customers might represent the do it yourselfer or backyard mechanic but what it really represents is the biggest opportunity for retail growth in parts. However, our competitor capitalizes on this opportunity eighty six percent of the time. These BST’s carry the largest query volume, there has been tremendous growth year over year and comparatively does not have a lot of competition in this space. The question is why are dealers only getting the click through fourteen percent of the time.

The next biggest area of opportunity would be to tackle the oil change BST. The bad news, our competitor seventy four percent of the time owns this.  For someone looking for a Chevy oil change or Honda oil change online may be looking for service coupons or specials and will be directed to the Jiffy lube or Quick Lube corner store 3 out of 4 times. It looks like the competitor strategy is to spend heavily in this area as their information shows first most of the time in the ad space. One thing that I have noticed in this area is the dealer does have a presence on this page but they are not capitalizing or getting the click through, this inly happens seventeen percent of the time.

Finally the last BST that has the largest margin of deficit would be tires. When some one is looking for Honda tires the dealer will capture the click through thirty two percent of the time compared to the competitors’ sixty five percent of the time. Again there is a presence in this area from the dealer it just seems that the customer will pick the ad space prior to clicking the organic or natural non-paid ads.

In recap, the dealer does have presence organically on the search results page but the numbers indicate that they need to have presence in the ad space as well to capture our future business. The first 3 areas to start would be branded search terms for parts, tires and oil change. These terms have the largest difference of percentage of click capture between the dealer and the competitor.







Oil Change






It is not all bleak. The branded search term for battery, the dealer is capturing the click through forty five percent of the time compared to the competitors thirty nine percent. So for this term the dealer shows up organically and also within the ad section thanks to national presence in this area. Is this a roadmap for our future terms and a way to make up ground digitally, looks like it.


Ron Morrison
I like the article and the attention to "digital service marketing." We've found that marketing intelligently "before the funnel" - literally before the customer begins a search and branding them with a significant call to action is making customers actually recognize more and even seek out a dealers digital service marketing. This strategy is producing significant results in the "Lost" segment of the database. Those customers that haven't had a service transaction in over a year.
Jim Boyer
Interesting analysis. The facts are laid out clearly, and the conclusions and recommendations are consistent with the findings. Thanks for the valuable education on digital marketing for Fixed Ops!
Greg Noonan
Kind of a pedestrian comment but I'll make it anyway Denim. Regardless if a new, preowned or CPO, when we look at the cost of advertising per vehicle sold we have to stop leaving the customer at the alter. Get them, now, into the service department and never let them go. They are getting ready to write a check, they believe in you as a dealership, someone won them over. Now is the time to get them to know you want them for service for their first appointment and, well, you won't have to win the search as they are already yours, they won't search. We create our own problem by letting customers leave with their new purchased car and without the belief that we want them to be our customers for life. Surely if you can get them to spend between $17,000 and $33,000 you can keep them, right? Any dealers who wants a reference for the tens of companies I work with every month, who excell at customer loyalty and retention, just have them contact me at We have proven, real life experiences that show where an individual dealer, or group, has made millions more dollars per year in service, by keeping them from the first sale, the sale of that car. I'm looking at one study right now where a 4 store dealer group picked up $500,000, in 6 months, in service business with a very fundamental change. We are spooling up for the next round of FCA service conferences and creating the Utlimate Customer Experience this time. If you are a FCA dealers I'd love to hear from you, send me your top 5 objectives for service. I keep all of this confidential. Consumers have to start to be branded on it's the best place, not just the best price. Franchised dealers America's Best Choice for Community Service. I unalterably believe this! Let's catch up again soon Denim. Greg
Megan Barto
Why spend money on digital marketing for fixed ops when you can spend less money & get better results with your own customer database?
Denim Simkins
Megan - I am a firm believer that both need to happen in order to really saturate the market. Mining your own database is critical to keep customer active and informed but having a strong digital presence keeps your product front and center for those surfing during the commercials and check out stands.

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