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Jared Hamilton
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Denim Simkins

Denim Simkins Director, Fixed Ops

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While you are sitting there enjoying a strong finish to the end of a great month and want to have a little shock or a serious reality check try this – grab the nearest device and perform a search. If you are a Honda store type “Honda tires” or if you are a Nissan store type “Nissan brakes” and your potential customer should be directed right to your site where they can find out how much a set of tires are or how much it will cost to have a set of factory brake pads installed. Once your customer knows the cost and estimated time to complete the service, they will be able to set an appointment online at their earliest convenience and come see you.

If this happens, realize you are in the minority. Unfortunately when the majority performs this search, the aftermarket owns the first non-sponsored search results that come up. The aftermarket is out performing us in this area. Our customers have more exposure to their products and services digitally, and therefore have a greater opportunity to do more commerce.

Here is the scary part … the latest numbers show 65% to 70% of people will do research online before doing business anywhere. First, we need to identify where our greatest opportunity is. In this case as it pertains to automotive service and repairs there are two types of searches: a branded search and a non-branded search. A branded search example such as “Ford wipers” or “Dodge tires” is the area we need to concentrate our efforts. This type of search represents close to 20% of the total searches made, but we own less than 1% of the business.

All of our websites need to have more content. In short, SEO is about creating high value; unique content and putting it on the Web in a way Google can find and value it. Also think about this, our websites need to be mobile friendly since the average person performs over 100 mobile searches daily. This way when someone is looking for “Ford Brakes” they will have the opportunity to do business with you.

Game plan, start with your in-house Internet Manager. For the last few years Owners and Dealers have lived in this area and have dedicated a lot of time and energy to make sure when someone is looking for a “Ford truck” their dealership pops up first. Once you have found your Internet Manager behind his 60” screen and super computer ask them how much time of their day is dedicated toward the sales department and how much of their time is spent toward service. I would be shocked if any spend anytime with service at all and is really is not their fault. There is a lot to do for sales and typically their income is tied only to sales revenue.

We are in a time where Fixed Operations needs to have a digital presence more than ever. Dealership Internet Managers could lend their efforts to service so we can play in this world that has been owned by the aftermarket.

Today we are talking about 70M searches imagine what increase we can expect of the years to come. With that in consideration how big of a slice of that pie do you want?

Jason Stum
Couldn't agree more when it comes to the lack of love that fixed ops receives when it comes to digital marketing. However suggesting that it's up to the "Internet Manager" to be the person to address the issue is a bit short sighted. Ultimately the decision to peruse a fixed ops digital marketing strategy should come from the ownership / gm / operation director in collaboration with the fixed ops director / service managers to be planned and executed by the marketing team or yes...the overworked and under appreciated Internet Manager. The strategy needs to be intentional and have achievable goals. Having an Internet Manager start building dozens of random pages on their website to satisfy potential fixed ops related searches probably isn't the most efficient way to begin.
Denim Simkins
Jason - you are right and heading exactly the direction I wanted this conversation to go. This is much bigger than the Internet Manager and the Service Manager this needs to be a store initiative with like you say intentional and achievable goals. Really the point of my topic is to get this collaboration to happen. As I see it the Internet Manager would need to oversee this undertaking and determine what it would take to be aggressive in the area due to their knowledge and expertise. Then with the buy in from DP's and GM's develop the game plan of who does what and what it will take to help improve the current performance. Jason thank you for your reply and spot on comments.
Mark Miller
I agree, this has always been an area lacking any attention. DP's and GM's need to start thinking like the owners of independent shops do, service is their only income. That type of urgency is what is missing. Franchise dealers know they will get a certain percentage of business from warranty, some loyalty, and people that just moved to the area. These are limited though, warranties expire, loyalty can be tested, and people become with other service options. If a DP or GM looked at service as the sole income line, they may address it in a more urgent sense and offer a more "service oriented" web presence.
Alyson Sharron
Great article, Denim. I couldn't agree more. Dealers should own the maintenance and repair market. Compared to aftermarket chains, they deliver superior service and most are competitively prices. They just need to get the word out through digital marketing - the aftermarket chains dominate the SERP for maintenance terms. I recently came across a Car Dealer Insider article about dealers who achieve 100% service absorption...the common thread: they execute on a professional marketing plan.
BRUCE HARTZ
I think the topic here should shift to how does a local dealer influence online service shoppers to do business with them and not the big chain service stores. I agree that a sharp Web Presence Manager with good SEO skills can rank well for local service terms like Baltimore Nissan Service or Brakes. Take the "Baltimore" out and Its near impossible to out rank the big players in any service related search. In my opinion and experience we have to resort to a well planed, funded and executed PPC strategy and leverage Facebook targeted ads and dark posts to drive traffic to our service department. And lets not forget to educate the service shoppers that dealers service departments offer a great value over the one size fits all big chains that in the long and short run do not offer the value and expertise that most dealers service departments can. If we want our share of local service customers its time to think outside of the box to get their attention. You will be very frustrated if you think that any amount of content you create will out rank the big players but keep in mind that good relevant content on your sites will be of value to your services shoppers and Google.

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