One of the benefits of being in the auto business is, well, being in the auto business. Let’s face it: while most other industries spend their days fixing and selling widgets, we get cars, chrome, horsepower and Auto Shows.

What could be better? Granted, some shows are all about the mainstream. Cars that debut at, say, the Detroit or Chicago Auto Shows are usually meant to sell – and in massive quantities. A big part of the reason why shows are so popular is because it give car shoppers a chance to take a closer look at their next prospective purchase. SUVs, hybrids, trucks or sedans – with each refreshed model year, there’s an Auto Show debut coming soon.

That’s not what the Geneva Motor Show is all about – at least for those of us on this side of the pond. While the European show has its fair share of practical debuts, every year there also seems to be a large contingent of wild, crazy and plain awesome special editions. Here are a few stand outs from the just-completed Geneva Motor Show press days:

Golden Sahara II

The weirdest debut at Geneva had to be the Golden Sahara II — a legendary 1950s custom car with translucent tires. No one’s buying thing – unless you’ve got over $300k. Revealed by Klairmont Kollections and Goodyear, in addition to the tires, the car also boasts early autonomous technologies, an aircraft-inspired grille, tailfins, canopy glass and control stick.

 Audi R8 V10 Decennium

The intent is to “pay homage” to the Audi V10 engine, and this R8 certainly does that – and more. The 620 horsepower V10 engine with bronze-colored highlights is pretty unforgettable. That’s a good thing because with only 222 editions available, your memory – and these images — will have to be enough.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 1941

It’s not all sports cars and Speed Racer at Geneva. Case in point: The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 1941, designed by Mopar with Jeep Performance Parts. Everything here is authentic – and meant for where the pavement ain’t.  

2019 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet Exclusive Edition

On the more practical side, Mercedes-Benz trimmed out the S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet as two stunning special edition vehicles, debuted at Geneva for the 2019 model year. Features include an LED Intelligent Light System with Swarovski crystals, as well as “Exclusive Edition” lettering on the cup holder cover in the center console.

Click here for more 2019 Geneva Motor Show coverage.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX ONE Platform. At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge marketing services that help to deliver the right message at the right time — via the right digital channel. How can we help you?

If the recent automotive news tells us anything, it’s that sales are slow – and change is fast. Automakers and dealerships are navigating declining demand, while at the same time managing shifts in consumer expectations. They’re also searching for ways to speed the sales process and streamline service department functions. Recently, in fact, new events are taking shape that may create additional revenue and customer service opportunities across the dealership.

So, while the story of sales may not be great news, the industry’s movement toward more efficient operations is exciting and promising. On the service side, new marketing opportunities and additional revenue streams are emerging, all directly or indirectly related to technology innovations now coming to the fore. Here are a few service-related headlines:  

Vehicle Subscription Plans Might Become a Boon for Fixed Ops

What: You’ve undoubtedly heard the news about vehicle subscription programs. From all-makes platforms like Fair, to automaker-specific test programs operated by Ford, Cadillac and Volvo, it’s an idea that is gaining popularity – especially at the dealerships. Indeed, there are already a few dealers who are operating their own subscription program to further monetize their inventory. According to Automotive News, that includes service revenue, as well.   

Takeaway: The article outlines ideas that dealers can try in order to create a revenue stream from a subscription program. One such idea for dealers is to base a service drive subscription program on reconditioning best practices. The value is due to the dealer’s access to historic vehicle data.  Additional ideas include adding fees for repairs and warranty work.

Go here: Vehicle subscription plans create fixed ops opportunities for dealerships

Top Global Sellers: Can You Guess the Top Ten?

What: Okay, so most people already know that the Ford F-Series truck is the best-selling vehicle. And many would probably guess that the Toyota Corolla is also on the top five list of the global popularity. But did you know the popular Nissan Rogue is in the top five? It’s true. And here’s another surprise: The Toyota Camry didn’t crack the top ten. The list is published at MSN and is based on 2018 global registrations from JATO.

Takeaway: Counting vehicle sales around the globe shows trends in terms of consumer preferences, and in how automakers are responding to an array of market pressures. At the dealership level, it can also provide a signal as to which vehicles consumers will be most interested in buying, and what service managers might see more of when it comes to maintenance and repair.

Go here: The world’s best-selling cars of 2018

Your Friendly Lyft Driver Might Be a Great New Source of Income

What: According to Automotive News, there are currently around 4 million rideshare drivers bopping around cities and suburbs. That’s a lot of Lyft and Uber business, to be sure – and it’s also a great opportunity for dealerships. Consider, for example, that while most vehicles are active just four percent of the time, rideshare vehicles ring the bell at a robust 26 percent. The Automotive News post figures that this type of use equals six times the required maintenance.

Takeaway: If you’re not already marketing to ride-share drivers, seriously consider doing so. Obviously, their income requires consistent maintenance and repair on an accelerated schedule – and that makes them an ideal customer. If you build a solid service relationship based on complete, fast and affordable service, chances are they will return many times.

Go here: Drivers for ride-hailing services can be a prime source of fixed ops profits

Winter Blues Expected to Creep Into February Car Sales

What: Edmunds is forecasting a gloomy February for new vehicle sales, thanks to a 2.2 percent decrease compared to February 2018, and an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 16.7 million.  On the bright side, sales improved over January 2019 by over 12 percent. Edmunds analyst Jeremy Acevedo sees it as a subtle drop and a “good barometer of the gradual sales decline we expect through 2019.” He cites the growing cost of purchase, such as interest rates, as a main reason for the slump.

Takeaway: After almost a decade of record-breaking growth, the auto market seems to have settled into a gradual sales decline, driven by higher cost and perhaps the availability of late model used vehicles. Regardless of the reason, service managers are becoming bigger VIPs inside the dealership, with a mandate to streamline service operations, and improve efficiency throughout the department.

Go Here: February Foretells Slower New Vehicle Sales in 2019

Most dealership managers know that the service department is their best source of steady, consistent revenue. Yet too often it seems that maximizing the amount of that revenue — and lowering the cost of the operation — just aren’t priorities.

That’s a problem — especially in an unsteady market where customer expectations around convenience and efficiency continue to grow. Every opportunity to increase ROs and improve customer loyalty is vital to sustaining a vibrant and competition-proof service business over the long term. Doing that requires a technology footprint that helps to ensure all steps of the customer lifecycle are met in a timely and efficient manner.

As simple as that seems, it’s not. Technology is complicated, and it’s hard to know exactly what the benefits are and how they help the bottom line. To that end, it’s important to be prepared by understanding the basics of the technology — and having a few tough questions at the ready. That way you can truly see whether the technology fits your service department’s unique set of challenges. Here’s a simple summary of ONE Platform:  

Seven Digital Solutions of the Dealer-FX ONE Platform

ONE Platform manages the complete service customer lifecycle. It connects seven digital service solutions across the entire experience, integrates with vehicle data, OEM systems and most DMS providers. It’s designed to enhance the customer’s service experience and drive the digital transformation of dealerships:

  • Connect: DMS, OEM, and customer service data for targeted messaging
  • Schedule: An online scheduler on your dealership website
  • Check-In: VIN-specific customer information directly on the tablet for an efficient write-up process
  • Inspect: Multiple layers of customer data so techs have all the information they need
  • Engage: Real-time vehicle status updates, OEM recall notifications, service reminders
  • Check-Out: Customer check-out integrated with EasyPay, a mobile payment solution
  • Retain: Post-service messages, personalized invitations and reminders

ONE Platform provides visibility into virtually all service operations — which can improve customer promise times, increase ROs and elevate scores on customer surveys.

ONE Platform by the Numbers
51% Increase in Customer Pay Sales
12% Increase in CSI Scores
$134 Increase per RO From Appointment To Final RO

Stump the Rep: Ten Questions about ONE Platform

The best way to get the most out of your appointment is to engage the rep’s knowledge about the technology. Do that by asking questions and pulling the experience toward a conversation. Here are ten tough questions that should help you get a pretty good idea about the Dealer-FX ONE Platform:

  1. Will ONE Platform make or save my dealership money, or is it just another technology expense?  
  2. How can I improve cycle time and staff efficiencies, including technicians?
  3. How is the customer service journey tracked, and how can it be leveraged to generate additional business?
  4. How does ONE Platform help me interact with customers in the way they expect?
  5. Can you show me how ONE Platform can manage the “digital service department – from almost anywhere?”
  6. How can this technology provide a Group instant access to performance and return on investment?
  7. Can you show me how to text recommendations to a customer?
  8. Explain why or how ONE Platform creates greater efficiencies.
  9. How does the consolidation of products within the platform actually help with support and training?
  10. Walk me through how ONE Platform delivers greater throughput in the service department.

What’s Next?

Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX ONE Platform. At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge marketing services that help to deliver the right message at the right time — via the right digital channel. How can we help you?

Something special always happens at NADA. For starters, there are always new friends to meet, and old colleagues to catch up with on the show floor and at events.

There’s the chance to learn more about new technologies, and be entertained by some of the best and brightest stars around. After all, with more than 600,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space at Moscone Center in San Francisco, there’s plenty of room to do many things great things — and meet many great people. This year was no exception. In fact, in some ways it raised the bar on what was possible, and pushed the limits on convention entertainment. From laughs with Dana Carvey on Saturday to sincerity with Major Dan Rooney on Sunday, NADA 2019 also focused on charities, the #womeninautomotive video contest and much more.

Dealer-FX: On a Mission for Success

Over at the Dealer-FX booth, we celebrated a very upbeat and successful NADA 2019, thanks to the popularity of ONE Platform, and debuts like our Sales2Service mobile solution. In addition, our very own Greg Dryden, vice-president of client optimization, held a successful education session on Service Department Effectiveness in the 21st Century. It was a great week of learning new things, and of finding ways to improve service business. Maybe the only thing better would be to add an autograph from Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young.  

Here’s a look back at our NADA 2019 experience:  

Founder, President & CEO Gary Kalk kicks off an autograph session with Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young.

The Dealer-FX booth was buzzing throughout the show.

It’s been 20 years or so since I worked at Tom’s Automotive. It was a small independent shop and a great place to start an automotive career. Every day was a chance to get a few hard knocks and learn some valuable lessons from veteran auto pros.   

One of those lessons was the power of “Show and Tell.”

Showing customers worn parts and actual vehicle issues isn’t a new thing brought about by newfangled technology. It’s been around for as long as technicians have been trying to explain the value of the repair they’re suggesting, which probably goes back to the Ford Model T. Back at Tom’s, we had a bin for every RO we worked on, and any parts we replaced on a car would go into that bin. When the customer came to pick up their vehicle, we could bring out the bin and show the customer the worn parts. Simple, right? This was a good strategy because it was at times difficult to explain a service over the phone, or even in person unless you could show that part. It’s a visual thing and most people believe what they see, especially when they don’t understand something.  

People Buy with their Eyes – Not Their Ears

The same is true today. If anything, digital information overload has caused people to become more confused and less trusting. People’s general feeling of being overloaded, combined with busier lives, makes time-consuming explanations less than ideal and Show and Tell more important. Old Tom would be happy about that because he believed in visual selling – something today’s technology is extremely good at doing.

Think about how you use the approach today. Many repair shops have realized that as valuable as “Show and Tell” is at the end of the repair, you can increase sales upfront with a “Show and Sell” strategy. However, chances are, this technique is reserved for dirty cabin air filters, engine air filters, fluids exchange and more maintenance-oriented upsells. These are geared towards customers who are waiting in the dealership lounge. It’s effective, but it also has some limitations. For example, it’s hard to bring some parts out to the service drive: worn brake pads, leaking coolant components and worn wheel bearings. Today, some younger technicians are being inadvertently trained to only recommend items they can physically show, to only those customers who have decided to park it at the shop. As a result, customers who have gone back to work or anywhere that’s not the lounge are missing the valuable visual explanation and you’re missing an opportunity to easily increase the average $ per/RO.  

I can hear old Tom grumbling about that right now. Indeed, if I worked at his shop today, Tom would probably require the use of technology to drive Show and Tell. Here’s why:

  • Sending videos and photos expands the opportunity to connect and show the value of a service or repair no matter where the customer sits. Remember, it’s a customer service economy driven by right time/right place demands. So don’t assume that the guy or gal who came in for an inspection is sitting patiently and waiting. Chances are she or he is back at work or running errands. Yet getting in touch is as simple as if they were right there as long as you use the correct platform. In this case, a text message is most effective, it’s increasingly evident that voicemail is one of the least effective means of communication. In fact, eMarketing Sherpas found that the average voicemail call back takes over one hour but a response to a business text takes just 15 minutes.  If the customer is in the lounge, they are most likely looking at their phone while they are waiting. Use that opportunity to your advantage!

  • Using mobile technology to share the technician’s findings with the customer saves time and keeps the technician working on cars instead of running back and forth with worn parts. Wouldn’t we prefer to keep him at his workstation producing revenue and use the Digital “Show and Sell” method to present findings to the customers?

Using mobile technology is a transparent and friendly way to build customer relationships.

  • The advisors can spend a lot of time physically chasing down customers and may be shying away from presenting issues that they can’t physically show.  I am often in stores training advisors or technicians, and if I had a car at the shop, I might not be available for a phone call, but if I received a text or email with pictures and a clear recommendation, it would be easy to respond back and approve those repairs. I’m not alone: According to a recent study by MobileSQUARED, more than 90% of people read a text message within the first three minutes of receiving. It’s a strong indication that text or email gets through when voice communication gets blocked.

  • Showcasing all manner of issues is easier via digital images or videos. I recently watched a car wobble down the freeway; clearly, it had a worn rear wheel bearing. It was so bad that it made me want to capture video of the wheel and show it to the driver. If they could only see what I saw! Point is, noticing an issue and sending a video to drive home the urgency of the repair is a great way to turn “Show and Tell” into “Show and Sell”. Utilizing only the physical method limits our techs or advisors and may cause us to miss out on larger opportunities.

  • Using mobile technology to communicate needed service is a transparent and friendly way to build customer relationships. It gives the customers greater peace of mind. With digital images or video, they can show the part or issue to knowledgeable friends and quickly get a second opinion. One that will almost always agree with your assessment. It puts the power of knowledge into the customer’s hands. This leads to improved customer retention and stronger profitability.

  • Encourage your customers to download a service app, so they can save images and paperwork throughout the life of the vehicle. Most automakers offer an app for vehicle owners to use that will sync the vehicle’s VIN with its recommended service intervals and allow for added content such as receipts and images or videos. There are also third-party apps that offer many of the same features.

With all this technology, it seems as though digital Show and Tell is a guarantee to “yes.” But what happens if they say no? For most stores, that’s the last time the recommendation is brought up. Sometimes the next technician to inspect the car doesn’t even mention it again, a mistake that hurts sales and credibility. With electronic inspections, information is captured, and there are tools available that help you re-market back to that customer, reminding them of the services or repairs needed to keep their vehicle in top running condition. Also, when the customer comes in for the next visit, those deferred recommendations can be reviewed when making the appointment, during the check-in and again by the technician when performing the new inspection. That allows advisors or managers to take advantage of opportunities which helps to build credibility with the customer.

Digital Show and Tell is Really Show and Sell

Using digital images and video to show needed service is just the start of what technology can do in terms of showing a customer the true and urgent service needs of their vehicle. Today, software is available that accesses data from the VIN, dealership management system and automaker database. These all present the customer with a true picture of maintenance needs and status, from service history to recalls and maintenance intervals. In addition, many of today’s modern shops have tire scanners at the entrance of the drive or handheld units, which analyze tread and alignment before the customer even gets out of their vehicle. It may all seem like science fiction, but in fact, it’s what customers today demand: a complete picture, driven by data and delivered via mobile technology. It takes Show and Tell to a whole new level – one based on data.

Tom, my first service boss, might shake his head at the thought of such technology, but he’d surely have it installed once he saw the fundamental benefits of showing based on data, which increases credibility, trust…and increases the dollars per RO.

Ultimately, it’s all about leveraging the tools of the trade to create a better and more profitable experience. By showing the customer visual evidence of needed repair, no matter what the customer is doing, or where they are, you’re creating an accurate, credible and transparent story. That’s simply the best way to turn the old Show and Tell scenario into a more powerful “Show and Sell.”  

Ridge McCoy| Regional Performance Manager
Dealer-FX Group, Inc. More from Ridge

Read more from Ridge


Imagine knowing exactly what a customer needs – and how to present it to them – before they even get out of their car.

It almost sounds too good to be true, right? But it’s not. In fact, this recent Automotive News article shows just how real it is – and then some. Written by Alex Kwanten, the post illustrates how vehicle scanners, data, and collaboration between Dealer-FX and Tire Profiles helped meet the RO revenue and customer service needs of Magic Toyota in Washington.

It’s a great example of the practical integration of data in an automotive retail setting – and a healthy preview for what Dealer-FX has coming at NADA 2019.  

Highlights

  • Boost in ROs from 2,000 to 4,500 – without adding staff
  • Reduction of check-in times by three to four minutes
  • Drop in service times by around 18 minutes

Click here to learn more about how Magic Toyota redesigned their service drive – and their fixed ops business – with the addition of technology and integrated data.

This year, technology is finally going to take over the world of automotive retail. Force a wave of transformation. And make everyone rethink everything they ever learned about selling and servicing cars.

Balderdash.

The truth is that every turn of the calendar sees its share of new technology solutions and ideas, all designed to make the business of automotive retail easier, better, and more profitable.It’s an incremental evolution of technology and human advancement, the process of which washes out the bad ideas and strengthens solutions that offer value to customers, dealers, and shop owners.

Just think about how far we’ve come: Today, there are apps that sell vehicles via a subscription. The role of a technician is more like that of a forensic technologist than a mechanic. And today, sensors are basically driving vehicles down the road without human assistance.

The point? It’s progress, and how it makes everyone more profitable and powerful. So in honor of new ways and greater opportunities, here’s a look at what you just might see more of – and less of – in 2019:

Not Hot: New and Used Vehicle Margins

It’s getting to the point where it costs money to sell a new car – and used vehicle margins aren’t that far behind, all things considered. More competition, a saturated market, and a somewhat strange consumer fixation on crossovers has put the market in a state of flux. As a result, that puts more pressure on the service department to run a tight ship and increase profitability, build customer retention and even serve as a source of sales.

None of which is surprising. The service department has long been a foundational part of any dealership. This time, however, there’s more competition on the service side of automotive retail, and service managers will need to bear down on cost and make investments in technology to streamline operations.  

Red Hot: Used Car Reconditioning

Used vehicle reconditioning will be one of those red-hot areas in 2019 – if it isn’t already. Turning around used vehicles for resale quickly (and for less) is increasingly part of the crucial role service departments play in helping boost profits.

Dealership managers should be focused on creating a reconditioning process that emphasizes turnaround speed, lowering parts and labor costs – and ensuring efficiency throughout. With a glut of late-model used cars just off lease, managers who know well their “time to line” will gain the advantage of moving more inventory and perhaps help to stabilize margins. Using technology to improve communication between managers and techs is a key step toward reducing the time gap between trade-in and re-sale.

Not Hot: Blockchain Technology

Okay, okay. It’s arguably bitcoin’s greatest gift. But it’s also the ultimate buzzword. Fact is, blockchain didn’t exactly set the automotive retail world on fire last year — unless talk and speculation counts. It undoubtedly will, one day – but maybe not quite yet. There’s just so much to like about the decentralized ledger technology, especially for industries with outdated records tech and mountains of paperwork (see: automotive). Yet something this big takes a long time to develop, and many experts warn about things like transaction speed and standardization slowing down implementation.

Red Hot: AI Technology

Hello, Alexa. Hi there, Google. Our erstwhile artificial assistants are helping to monitor and drive vehicle maintenance – plus much more. Indeed, it’s already happening: many newer cars use some form of AI to monitor hundreds of sensors to detect possible problems and maintenance needs. In fact, Volkswagen and Microsoft recently announced a partnership with the intention of using AI to improve the ownership experience. That includes predictive maintenance, and Over The Air (OTA) software updates, among other innovations.  

Fact is, AI is in the service bay at increasing levels. From predictive replacement part ordering to claims adjustments and predictive maintenance and repairs, the name of the game is efficiency. Look for increases in AI across the dealership as it proves effective at lowering costs and streamlining workflows. One need only look at the emergence of chatbots as an example of how AI technology can work with employees to create timely and complete experiences.  

Not Hot: Autonomous Vehicles

It gets all the headlines – for good and bad reasons. As a result, the march toward self-driving vehicles is anything but a straight line to customer driveways. As advanced as self-driving tech companies have become, and despite their advancements on the commercial side of transportation, ethical and technical issues are to be sorted out. Of course, most of us know about the accident that killed a woman in Las Vegas as she crossed the street with her bicycle, but there have been other accidents and glitches as testing has increased.

Not that any of this has stopped the self-driving phenomenon. The benefits in terms of safety, efficiency and fleet use are too strong for the technology to not make an indelible impact. As testing continues onward, look for more measured and cautious progress as autonomous vehicles begin to find their place in the automotive world – including service and repair.

Red Hot: Electrified Vehicles

All manner of electric vehicles are available today, and that selection is growing quickly. From hybrids to plug-ins and daily-driver EVs, car buyers are being treated with more power and greater efficiency than ever. One only need pay attention to the number of Teslas on the road – and charging stations available. Worldwide, in fact, EV sales reached around 1.4 million vehicles.

But that’s not the hot change for 2019. What is even more significant is the accelerated switch from the long-standing 12-volt vehicle electrical system to a 48-volt system. Up to now, we’ve seen 48-volt systems in a few luxury vehicles, but it looks like the transition is moving into the mainstream. That’s likely driven by demand for gadgets and power-laden features such as advanced audio systems, ambient lighting and start-stop functionality — not to mention electronic turbo systems and mild hybrids.

More practically, however, is the reality that automakers have been shifting from mechanical parts to electronic componentry under the hood. Ultimately, after more than 60 years the power needed for vehicles is now too much for 12-volts to handle. It’s a change that may have a direct impact on your service techs, as they will need to know how to work with 12-volt systems and 48-volt systems. And it is yet another example of how technology is helping to drive a more powerful and robust automotive world for 2019 — and beyond.

Today, technology is such a big part of everything we do that it seems as though we were never able to do anything without it. Just try to imagine a world without email, for example. Or mobile devices.

It’s a little hard to believe that the first-ever mobile phone was sold in the U.S. in 1983 – with the Apple iPhone debuting in 2007.  Wait – 2007? That was barely more than 10 years ago. Mobile devices are a perfect example of how the power of thinking forward, of focusing on technology and innovation, can make life easier.

The automotive industry is in the midst of such a dynamic and exciting time. Everywhere you look, technology is changing the work of sales and service, turning what was once time-consuming and expensive tasks into a seamless and efficient experience.

And that’s just the start: on the horizon are implementations of proven technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), facial recognition, predictive data, Augmented Reality (AR) and more. Surely, however, not everything will be effective or profitable. For example, promising innovations such as Blockchain haven’t quite taken over the automotive world. In fact, understanding what will work to deliver a satisfying and profitable customer experience is why thinking forward is important. To think forward is to look through a new solution or process and ask three critical questions:

Does it Create, or Help to Create Exceptional Experiences?

This the point: creating a service or sales experience that delights customers is item #1 on the must-have list. Otherwise, there’s no point. And that includes the fundamental concept of core competency. An innovation must be able to produce an exceptional experience long after the install date. To that end, a strategic feature set and UX updates are important considerations.

Truth is, creating an exceptional experience increasingly relies on data – much of which is easily available. That type of good data should power human interaction through predictive learning. Current sensor data, information about warranty repair, frequency of service, issues and recall notifications can be aggregated and used for predictive maintenance opportunities. Ultimately, today and tomorrow’s tech must be customer-focused on a predictive and anticipatory experience, one that helps to make customers feel wanted, important and cared for.

Does it Maximize Service Utilization and Efficiency?

Workflow efficiency and transparency is the bookend benefit to go with the experience. It’s a fundamental point about the value of technology and one that must be present in order for the value of the technology to always be greater than the cost. If not, profitability suffers and innovation stalls.

And while that includes the fundamental idea of reducing time at task, it also includes a more important consideration: how much time does technology add to your interaction with customers? The true and real value of technology is not only how much time it saves your service advisor, but how much more in sales and relationship-building happens as a result of that practical efficiency.

During a time of shrinking margins and hyper-competition, increased retention and improved survey scores are fundamental profit builders. Increasingly, that starts with as-needed training, transparency of workflow and the ease of making a change to improve utilization.  

NADA Session: Service Department Effectiveness for the 21st Century

Will the Innovation Fit in an Undecided Future?

Lately, there’s been a lot of progress made toward a future of autonomous vehicles, subscription vehicle services and electric cars. All three of which, with scale and staying power, would have a tremendous impact on all dealership departments. True, they could be just ships in the night, trends that pass in favor of full-size trucks.

But maybe not, and maybe they will wind up benefiting dealers with new streams of revenue. For example, the recent announcement of Waymo One, a self-driving rideshare program launched in the Phoenix, Arizona area, will likely create new layers of a service business for dealers. Would that investment be worth it?

Thinking forward through today’s demand for faster and better service – and to tomorrow’s promise of more powerful solutions – is a critical component in analyzing how dealerships should be positioning technology. It requires a total tech approach that includes updates and training, as well as education on an ongoing basis.

Thinking Forward: Our Commitment

Here at Dealer-FX, thinking forward about the future of automotive ownership is an essential part of our philosophy. Indeed, “Thinking Forward” about how technology helps to power exceptional experiences is what we do, and why we’re able to develop effective technology such as ONE Platform.

That’s technology that enables you to manage every stage of service and the customer experience through mobile applications, data-driven insights, and powerful analytics.

It’s also an example of how technology is making customers more satisfied, employees more efficient and dealerships more profitable. That’s Thinking Forward — and as the industry evolves toward a more tech-driven future, Dealer-FX will be there to help support, guide and provide the best technology for dealers across North America.

Every day, customers come and go through the dealership service drive, the happy result of effective sales and digital marketing efforts that span all aspects of your business.

Increasingly, that flow of business is dictated by online activity. Indeed, according to Google, 4-in-5 customers use search engines to find information before making a purchase decision – the first stop on a journey that will take them to your website.

Dealer-FX Connect Digital Marketing

While the use of websites, search and social media is a fact of life, dealership efforts to market across these channels can be frustrating. Here are three simple, realistic and affordable things your team can do to help improve your store’s digital marketing efforts:

#1: Start a Customer Success Blog

Success stories happen at your dealership service department every day – and many are worth sharing. The customer who came in over the weekend with an unexpected repair need, or the harried commuter who must squeeze a service appointment between three meetings and a soccer practice…all are potential stories that accurately depict the commitment your team makes to deliver excellent customer service. The key is consistency: decide how you plan to write up the story, who will do it, and how often. Just once a month is a perfect start.

The tough part? Commitment. Stick to it for one year and support it as a priority. You’ll be glad you did, because showcasing customer success stories is a powerful way to use digital marketing to show the value your dealership provides. It also helps to improve overall search results to your dealership website and illustrates how your service department actively cares and shares their good work. Connect the blog to your website service pages, and online appointment section, so that potential customers will see the stories while they’re looking for service pricing and appointment tools.

#2: Tell Your Service Story

Your website is a vital sales and marketing tool – and that goes double for the service department. In general, potential customers value dealership service departments because of the expertise they provide and the value-add of better customer service.

That doesn’t mean they’re just going to show up, however: customers look for confirmation that they’ll get what they’re looking for when they visit your website. Show them just how strong your team is by adding a service-related content to your “About Us” page on your website. Add a section about certifications that shows just how much a technician needs to know about your vehicles before they get the tools out. Illustrate your service commitment and benefits, such as free wi-fi, available loaner vehicles, shuttles, and more.

Sure, independent shops may be able to beat you on price. But they can’t beat the expertise of your team or the value of your service. Show that where it matters most, on your dealer website and via digital marketing. That’s where many customers make their minds up about where to go.

#3: Think Search, SEO and Google E.A.T

When it comes to revenue and profit, service departments are often the foundation of your dealership. That’s common knowledge. But they’re also a major pillar to the overall success of your digital campaigns, whether meant to boost ROs or new car sales.

Why? Search. According to Google, 53% of searchers click on the first organic result – and 25% click on the second or third result. The fact is that Google and Bing control the traffic flow of vast numbers of potential customers. That makes it vitally important to produce parts and service-related content, invest in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to drive targeted traffic to your website and commit to a consistent social media approach – including just primary channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The importance of SEO and SEM just can’t be overstated when it comes to using digital marketing. And it’s something that requires expertise in the space. For example, over the past few years it has become clear just how important authoritative content is to Google search rankings. The company uses the acronym E.A.T to gauge the level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness found on a website – especially for commerce websites that promote the sale and service of complicated products – like cars. Google’s E.A.T rating impacts the quality rating of your dealership’s website, which ultimately dictates ranking in good and bad ways. Here’s a basic overview:

Expertise: Show your skill and expertise. As in #2 above, use service to prove your expertise. It’s vital to build content on your service pages that support the expertise found at your service drive every day.

Authoritativeness: If your website has a service forum or community, actively monitor the conversation in terms of quality; nonsense threads will bring down your authority score. In addition, consider adding short bios about your service manager and senior service employees. Google likes to see authority!

Trustworthiness: Consider adding basic service pricing to your website. Your customers will appreciate it, and it may help improve search results thanks to Google’s “T” in E.A.T. At a minimum, make sure your website has an active SSL certificate.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge marketing services that help to deliver the right message at the right time — via the right digital channel. How can we help you? Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX Connect.

In today’s digital world, customers are connected and in control, so it’s no surprise their expectations have changed.

To keep customers happy and coming back, dealerships need to think differently about technology, customer touchpoints and service department culture. Service departments should be customer-focused and process-oriented, and leverage technology that allows the entire service department to be connected. That way, the department delivers a frictionless experience that elevates the customer experience.

Change Starts at the Advisor Level

Effective change can take place on the service drive with proper training and incentives that ensure everyone is aligned with the new digital service department. This whitepaper provides tips on how to deliver a digital and world-class experience at the service drive by adopting a comprehensive service delivery platform, transforming the department culture — and more.

Click here to download the free Whitepaper.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?
Click here to learn more about Dealer-FX.