If you’re the average dealer who’s trying to grow business, the fixed operations departments are one of the best bets you can make. Once you bring in the service customer, odds greatly increase that you’ll convert them into a car buyer down the road.
Capturing new service business presents the same challenge as selling cars in the first place though. Your marketing people are caught in this cycle of advertising loss-leader services for an even deeper loss or pushing to compete with aftermarket providers who sell brakes and tires far below your cost. None of it makes anyone rich and often just opens you up to dissatisfied customers who see right through your games to upsell.
Consumers are tired of the usual messages. “$29.95 oil change.” “Half price wheel alignment.” “Buy 3 Get 1 Free Tires.” They could be great deals, but there’s nothing special about them.
Instead, give customers a reason to buy from you.
My own spending habits have me convinced that advertising the lowest price is no longer effective marketing, by and large. Whether for selling cars or selling service, you need to use something other than price to differentiate your dealership. That’s a reason for shoppers to choose your store.
Recently, I had an experience at a local grocery store that reinforces that fact. More than an hour before the posted closing time, I discovered that the produce section had put away items for the night that needed refrigeration. Irked, I followed that up with the discovery that the deli had already cleaned up and shut off the lights. Nowhere was it posted that these departments close before the store’s closing time. I put down my basket and left, and haven’t been back since, no matter what’s on sale.
Millennial or otherwise, today’s shoppers are focused on the experience above price. So, what does that have to do with service advertising? Everything.
Your dealership should be promoted as a destination, not a discount shop. When you sell your products for less than your posted prices, you cheapen their value. The discounted price is now the benchmark a customer will think is fair. Discounts hurt your image as well as your bottom line.
The better option is to let customers know what sets you apart. Do you have free courtesy cars for your service customers, or loaner bicycles for eco-conscious clientele? Do you have an onsite bistro for breakfast or snacks throughout the day? Is your waiting room kid-friendly? Is your Wi-Fi fast and free? Those are important for your customers today, but you need to have more.
Your ad viewers need a hook to change from their current dealer or service shop. Figure out what that can be for you. Perhaps you offer evening appointments for express oil changes. Maybe you can provide pickup and drop-off for service customers. Create a niche for yourself or, at very least, be the very best at something.
Whether you advertise that you offer service shuttles, complimentary detailing, or vehicle delivery, you can never, ever fail. The absolute worst thing you can do is fall short on promises you make in advertising. It’s tantamount to advertising a car for sale without having it in stock. There’s no cleaning the egg off your face from it.
When everyone else is focused on dropping their pants on pricing, be different. Tell people why your store is the better choice to visit. Just make sure you keep your produce and deli open until closing time.