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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Mirror the Service Department Online

Ever browse a retailer’s website, completely awestruck by the professional appearance, a wide array of available products, and helpful content, and make the decision to pay them a visit? Only, when you arrive, it’s a bare-bones storefront with none of the same warm, welcoming appeal from their online presence?

Now flip that around. That’s how the service department works in nearly every dealership.

In the service drive, the customer lounge, and even in the hustle and bustle of the shop, there’s an emphasis on a good first impression…at least, in most stores. We try to give the customer the best experience possible, starting with a visual experience and then a service experience. That’s perfect for a customer that’s already come through your door because 94 percent of first impressions are made visually.

What about fence-sitting customers, or those who are looking for a new service department for their vehicle? In a huge swath of dealership websites, you’ll find parts and service specials and an appointment form. That’s it. It’s about as bland as plain white bread and about as nourishing. 38 percent of online customers will stop engaging with an unattractive website, and 88 percent will never return after a bad online experience. Talk about a great way to reject new customers, hey?

What Should the Service Department Look Like Online?

When customers browse online, a few questions come up:

  • - First, does your website contain service-related pages or is it 99% sales?
  • - Second, is your website visually captivating, or does it look like DOS coding from 1996?
  • - Third, is it easy to navigate, or will a user throw their wireless mouse in frustration?
  • - Last but not least, is there valuable information customers can consume online?


Before addressing the questions, there’s an overriding idea about mirroring the service department online that you need to grasp: the visual theme should be consistent. That means the customer should see the same color palette, building features, and cleanliness online as they see in person. It makes their first visit feel familiar.

Service Pages

Fixed operations generates a huge chunk of the revenue in a dealership, and that should be reflected in the online presence. Companies like Fixed Ops Digital create fixed-ops websites and pages that emphasize the importance of service. Individual service pages and more in-depth department information help put the service department at the forefront.

Visual Appeal

Does the dealership website look just like every other competitor’s website, or worse yet, is it lagging behind? Keep a modern theme running and have each service page complimented by high-quality images.

Easy Navigation

Test your website’s service department section. Do all the links work and is the information current? Are there any slow pages, and does it feel like it flows well? Especially try the appointment scheduler – it’s a sore spot for many customers who’d rather book online than call into your BDC.

Service Content

Wouldn’t it be easier to sell services if customers understood them better? For all your common service items, have a service page written and posted, potentially linked into the service menu, for customers to see the value in each service you provide.


It isn’t just about putting your best foot forward. It’s about consistency. Show customers what they can truly expect from the service department without becoming frustrated at the online experience.

Bart Wilson

A consistent experience is a challenge and big opportunity for dealers in both fixed ops and sales. Good call.

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