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Recently I had a candid conversation with a dealer regarding his “weathering” of our recent economic storm. He emphasized that he was able to keep his stress level to a minimum due to his experience and forward thinking and execution of a sound plan in good times.
He shared with me that the 5 years prior to this recession he put his past experiences to work and created a plan to cultivate and maintain a strong service department. As he put it “I had seen as a young professional in this industry the power of a strong service department in tough economic times and its ability to carry a store until the storm had passed. I took that first-hand experience and when I obtained my own store made that part of my long term business plan and it worked again, just as it had in the past”
As I listened to his strategy in a nutshell; marketing, advertising, appreciation of solid service employees and follow up along with his monetary investment in building the service side of his dealership- there was not even one mention of his using his website as a service revenue generating tool. He used the standard old school techniques which in the grand scheme of things capped him from an affordability standpoint on the size of the market he could capture. Old school advertising and marketing using print, radio and mail could not reach the size audience he could have reached using the Internet. In spite of this though, he was successful. I can only imagine how much more successful he could have been had he placed priority on using his website as a service revenue generating tool.
This got me to thinking- how many dealers out there really give the marketing, advertising and development of their service departments the attention they deserve? When you take into consideration that 20% of people who walk onto a showroom floor buy and 100% who walk into a service department buy- might make sense to pay this red headed stepchild of a store a little attention.
When is the last time you saw a dealership website emphasize it’s service department on the Internet and focus on driving traffic in with it? For grins, go to Google and search “oil change” or “brakes” or “automotive repair”…….if you find what I found you will be hard pressed to find a dealership on the first 1-2 pages and most likely not at all in sponsored links. You might as well have a banner in the desert at this point, considering 87% of all Internet shoppers never go past the first page, 4.4% will go to the second and less than 2% will flip to the 3rd page on a search engine result page.
When you search these keywords or key phrases you will see nothing but aftermarket service providers, Jiffy, Midas, Merlin…these are the guys that are taking your service business and doing quite well with it thank you very much. As a dealer, you have the advantage with a customer who has bought a vehicle- and statistically you keep 11% of your sold customers as service clients. REASON- the only thing the general public has ingrained in their heads is that a dealership charges more and takes more time than an aftermarket “service providers”.
Time to change that, give the attention to your service department that it deserves after “carrying” you more times than not. Market, advertise, educate consumers as to the value, features and benefits of using your service department versus one of those “other guys”….and whatever you do- USE YOUR WEBSITE…that’s where consumers are looking and from what I have seen that’s exactly where your competition is corralling them to their bays…….while maybe yours sit empty…
Just a thought.