Do you show service prices on your website?

Brendan Dolan

We know that consumers are used to getting what they want when they shop online these days. If I'm on Amazon, I expect 100% of my questions to be answered with easy to get information before I make a purchase. On the variable side of the dealership, it's common to mark down inventory with all available rebates, incentives, dealer discounts, and show the financing options, all while giving the customer estimated trade in values, and estimated monthly payments. With used cars, smart stores balance asking prices against lead volume, to make sure that they profitably turn their inventory fast, with a market correct price as a hook to get leads. 

So why is everyone in fixed so worried about service prices online? There are a few sides to this discussion, but I've always been Pro showing prices. Here's a list of Pro's and Con's for showing prices on your website:

-Increased consumer confidence, enhancing a website visit to an actual form submission.

-Less communication break down. Stop me if this sounds like your store: customer calls you because they want to know how much the 30k on their car costs. They get a receptionist who can't answer pricing questions, so they transfer the customer to the advisor. What happens during that transfer? "Hi you've reached Bob's voicemail, I'll call you right back." What do we think the customer is going to do? Wait for Bob, or continue to shop until they get their question answered?

-Up sell opportunity is easier to build. If you've built out the pricing menus, then adding better and best service options is easy, as is adding alignments, wheel balances, detail services, seasonal offerings, wipers, etc. Work with advisors on presenting the menus you use on your website scheduler to up sell additional services and stop writing one line RO's. This really helps new advisors as well. 

-Increased retention. As odd as this one sounds, an advisor that lets the customer know what's due next time around, and the cost of it can do a better job of bringing the customer back. The up front transparency, combined with scheduling their next visit at a known cost is huge for consumer trust and loyalty. Combine that process with a text message reminder and you're golden. 

-Consistency in your drive. If a customer called your store, and spoke with three different advisors about the cost of a 30k, would they get three different answers? 


-It can be a total pain to set up the pricing menus. Remember, it's all humans playing with a database. The determination of your store, and the vendors support staff are what's going to make this succeed or fail. With millions of options, you're going to find an error or bug here or there. A well motivated vendor, but a "I'm too busy to set this up" store will fail, as will a motivated store with a less than tenacious vendor. 

-Advisors won't use it/want to honor it. If your store is used to an advisor using general op codes and writing in their own labor times, then a set in stone menu will frustrate them. 

-Customers will shop your prices.

I do want to touch on the customers shopping your prices. I spent over a decade in variable ops, so I'm used to having prices shopped. In my experience, here is how the customers usually break down into categories:

-10% accept whatever price presented; high, low, it doesn't matter. $500 for an LOF and a fuel system and intake treatment sounds good, as does buying the car in the first place at full MSRP. 
-80% want a price that's market correct/in the realm of reasonable. They've shopped, and know that it's $140 for an LOF and tire rotation with an MPI, and they're ok with that. They also shopped for their car, and compared some offers, but they wanted to make sure they weren't getting taken advantage of. 
10% grind for the cheapest deal no matter what. They want the $29.99 LOF and will complain about paying for a filter. They also drove 500 miles to save $500 on their car when they bought it, and generally a lot of CSI issues tie into their service events. When I was running my store, we paid attention to this part of the customer base closely. I don't usually make money on them, they usually torch my CSI, and they're usually the ones to complain that it's cheaper somewhere else.

In my opinion, if I have something on my website that's off putting to the 10% of customers that are impossibly tough, but caters to the 90% that I want in my drive, is that a bad thing? 

What's your own Pro's and Con's in your stores? 


Chris Murray

Chris K sounds a little bitter and defeated. On-line pricing does not, cannot, will not EVER sell service at least not alone. The Secondary Market (Firestone, Goodyear, Tire King, et al) doubles every five years with our customers because we, as an industry, do a worse than poor job at maintenance and services in general.

We have fallen for the factory/JD Powers nonsensical surveys, the consultants meaningless KPI's and the severe lack of training of Service Advisors and as a result we watch our service business rise and fall with the success or lack thereof of the sales department.

We don't sell because we cannot sell. 

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