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Brian Pasch

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Creating a Fixed Ops First Strategy at Your Dealership

By Brian Pasch dses-jared

At the 2013 DrivingSales Executive Summit, Jared Hamilton's opening keynote address challenged dealers to invest in a "Fixed Ops First" strategy.  Jared clearly outlined the opportunities dealers have to increase Fixed Ops revenue and customer retention by implementing a Service BDC. 

Jared also passionately encouraged dealers to invest in a digital marketing strategy for Fixed Operations.  When consumers use Google to find local Fixed Ops services does your dealership show up for oil changes, discount tires, brakes, and alignment?  Take a minute to search a few phrases and see if your dealership is in the first 3 listings on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.  

Consumers are spending hours a day on Facebook, scanning their news feed. Is your dealership using Facebook and Polk vehicle ownership data to present Fixed Ops promotions to local car owners?  Why not?

Fixed Ops Managers Not Invited To The Party

Many dealership budgets omit a comprehensive digital strategy for Fixed Ops by design.  In fact, Fixed Ops Managers are often left out of the "digital party" and rarely are they invited to digital conferences.  Dealers cannot afford to allow this dysfunction to continue.

Jared suggested that dealers need to revise their organizational charts to include a Marketing Manager, which competently serves Variable and Fixed Ops. I would suggest that DrivingSales members request a copy of Jared's presentation to see his proposed org chart and discuss creating a Fixed Ops First strategy at your next managers meeting. 


Framed Solutions Create Blind Spots

When Marketing Managers tackle Fixed Ops marketing, they will quickly learn about one "challenge" that most dealers face. Their service appointment scheduler has a blind spot. Most of the online scheduling tools are "framed in" solutions; the scheduler is not part of the dealer's website.  

In the graphic above, this popular "framed in" solution blends into the dealership website. A consumer visiting the page would not realize it was framed in. Framed solutions can be attractive and effective, but some platforms make it hard to track ROI from a dealer's digital advertising investments.  

When solutions are "framed in" the consumer's activity using the scheduler cannot be seen by Google Analytics.  If a click to the scheduling page does NOT result in a completed service appointment, Google Analytics cannot see how far along the scheduling process a consumer was before leaving.  Your scheduling tool therefore needs advanced analytics!

Even if an online appointment is scheduled, some solutions do not trigger a Google Adwords/Analytics "goal" to show that a successful conversion occurred. Dealers reading this post should reach out to their current vendor to discuss how their scheduler can integrate into Google Adwords and Analytics to track the ROI of their marketing investments.

A 100% Bounce Rate Could Be Awesome

Dealers looking to create a Fixed Ops First strategy need to understand the cost to create a service appointment lead.  If a dealer decided to use Google Adwords to increase service leads, a dealer should calculate the cost per service appointment phone call or online scheduled appointment.

To improve Google Adwords campaigns for Fixed Ops, vendors should be testing ad copy, keywords, and bidding strategies.  But when it comes to landing page optimization, should dealers take the clicks directly to the online sheduling page?  Should a separate landing page be created for each popular service with a button linked to the scheduler?


Take a look at the bounce rate of the online service scheduler page that displayed earlier in the post.  Is a 71% bounce rate good or bad?  Since this is a framed solution, you may not be able to answer that question!  

If every customer that came to the service page actually scheduled his or her service, and left the page, Google would see it as a 100% bounce rate. The campaign would be a runaway success!  Of course, the actual number of visits to conversions is actually very low.

Readers should ask their service appointment scheduling vendor if they can trigger a "conversion" when an appointment is made online so that it can be seen in Adwords and Analytics.

Landing Page Strategies

An entire series of articles can be written on Fixed Ops landing page strategies for digital marketing campaigns.  However, let me give readers a few things to consider when starting a Fixed Ops First strategy:

  1. Your best Adwords landing page is rarely the installed "bare bones", framed-in scheduler page that does not educate consumers on your "Why Buy Here" message.  Having ten custom landing pages for the 10 most popular services will increase conversion.  For example, if a consumer searched for "jeep wrangler tires", and clicks on your ad, the "tires landing page" should explain why the dealership is a great place to buy tires.
  2. If your online scheduler does not estimate costs online, conversion will be anemic. Why would a new local consumer "commit" to sheduling their service or buying tires wthout knowing the cost?
  3. Your landing page should educate the consumer on your service process.  The landing page should explain where a consumer should go when they arrive and how they will be handled.  Outline if the dealership offers loaner cars or a shuttle service.  Explain the ammenities in the service waiting area and if you have WiFi.  A video is a great way to communicate this information passionately.
  4. Service page visits should be followed by a short retargeting campaign.  Since a majority of visits to the service page DO NOT result in an appointment, dealers should have a retargeting strategy to get the consumer back in their consideration set. 
  5. Visit national franchise websites that offer oil changes, tires, brakes, and alignment and learn from some of the best operators.  Look at the graphics and call to action messages on their websites. Test new ideas and please make your fixed ops pages shine by getting a designer involved. 
  6. If you want to take Fixed Ops Marketing to another level, you may want to consider a Fixed Ops microsite.  There are a number of companies that specialize in this strategy, and I have seen great results.

Jared's keynote was a wakeup call for dealers to invest in a Service BDC and a comprehensive digital advertising campaign for Fixed Ops.  It is time to rethink our digital obession with Variable Ops and invite Fixed Ops to the party.

For the record, the campaigns for Fixed Ops have a great ROI and are fun to create since most local franchise dealers are not in the game.  Get in the game! 












Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Consulting


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