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I had an epiphany the other day. The number one concern that people have when doing business with a dealership is that they are going to be taken advantage of. People are afraid of the car buying process and even more concerned when bringing their vehicle in for service. My epiphany concerns the later.
Minimize the “fear” and uncertainty for a customer visiting a service department and you can only increase business. It’s that simple. Where do you start? With your website!
With a few simple steps you can not only lead the horse to water (your website/service department) but you can also dramatically increase their likelihood of drinking (setting an appointment to visit your service department).
Statistically 83% of customers who buy from a dealership do NOT return the vehicle to that dealerships service department after the sale. That is a lot of lost service opportunity for a store. A sure fire way to increase service traffic off of your sold units and capture some of that 83% is to drive these people to your website and reiterate to them the benefits of servicing their vehicles with you. In order to do this effectively there are a few steps you can take to lead the horse to water and to make him drink. Here are a few recommendations:
1) 48 hours after the sale have an email sent (another incentive to get this from the customer as they are buying!) from the Service Director introducing their department and directing the customer to the website for all future service needs. Provide sold customers an online incentive to visit your service department. For instance, provide that first oil change at a discounted or no charge rate, offer a free car wash, etc. In other words, make it worth their while to come back.
2) Remember service clinics? When was the last time you had one at your dealership? What a perfect time to cover the vehicle and its needs and explain to them the new way you do business, ONLINE.
3) Have a dedicated web page exclusively representing your service department; better yet invest a little money in a auto dealer service website. Divert a few bucks from your ad budget to drive traffic to your service department. After all isn’t it your service department that keeps your dealership afloat during stormy weather?
4) Make sure that you have a live chat option so that visitors can ask questions as they navigate through your service page or site.
5) Create an intuitive experience- an experience that gives the visitor a sense you KNOW the vehicle they are driving as well as the preventative care it requires in order to be well maintained. Perhaps a Virtual Service Consultant. When a customer visits your service website and puts his or her information in to start an investigative or appointment setting process, provide manufacturer maintenance recommendations and/or dealer recommendations and services for their specific vehicle.
6) Create a fear relieving experience for your service “shopper”. Post awards, testimonials, and community involvement information along with printable coupons and incentives to visit your store.
7) Provide a comparative price schedule for regular maintenance needs. For instance create a matrix that outlines, oil change, tire rotation, brakes, A/C checks etc. and a list of local aftermarket shops/competitors such as Midas, Firestone, Jiffy Lube. Give your shoppers what they need so they do not have to leave your site and possibly not return.
8) Do not be afraid to quote a price. We overcame this fear with cars shoppers and we need to do the same with our service shoppers.
It is time that we dismiss the perception consumers have regarding our dealerships service departments. Our advisors, writers, techs and mechanics are highly trained and more qualified than the aftermarket place down the street. It is time that we take back what we gave away by leading the horse back to the water and making them WANT to drink it. You can most cost effectively do that starting with your internet marketing. Make these tweaks today and watch your service appointments start to increase tomorrow.