Dealership service departments face two critical challenges, competition and perception. The competition-the Jiffy Lube’s and Pep Boys of the world-are stealing billions of service dollars by outmarketing the average car dealer. The perception-most consumers think a dealer will overcharge them for service. Fighting the competition and changing the perception is crucial, since a majority of dealership profits rely on the repair orders filled in the service department.
Social Media is the golden ticket to overcoming these challenges. There are some dealers who are already using the influence of social media to propel their service departments-and their brand-to new heights. How are they doing it, and, more importantly, how can you?
Crush the Competition
Consider how many cracks you get at new or preowned car shoppers: once, maybe twice every two to four years? Once you hand them the keys and they drive away, your engagement with them has historically been hit or miss. Progressive dealers have discovered ways to keep their dealerships top-of-mind until the next purchase.
Between purchases, a customer needs oil changes, inspections, snow tires and tire rotations, mileage checkups, detailing and much more. Imagine the boost to your bottom line if you could bring these customers back to the dealership for service each time. You just need to convince your customers that there is no other place to come for service. After all, who is better to service a Honda than a Honda Certified Mechanic?
Provide Access to Helpful, Relevant Information
New products for dealers in the marketplace are proving that relevant, personalized communications to customers yield the best results.
Instead of plastering mailboxes with direct mail pieces, imagine sending a customer a personal email a week or two before they’re due for an oil change or other service. Imagine still, serving up content on your website that was helpful to each of your car owners. And, imagine even further, allowing your customers to log onto your dealership website to track and follow the service history of each car in their driveway.
Creating engagement methods like this is the key to increasing repair orders. Kelton Research found that the rate of return for this type of communication was 15 to 20 times greater than old fashioned direct mail. The benefits to personalized service marketing are real, and if implemented, can start to chip away at the billions of dollars those light repair chain stores are raking in.
Fight Consumer Perception
Treat Them Right!
Your customers are local, and the one-on-one customer service relationships of 50 years ago are hard to find. But studies show that great customer service still outranks price among consumers, so getting back to that old fashioned personal touch is key to maintaining a base of happy customers. Return to the value getting to know your customer and establish a long-term bond. They will become your best brand advocates.
Good Service Boosts Social
Your social reputation can live and die by the success of your service department. Customers who rely on you for service each time will be your strongest brand advocates to their social networks. When, over the course of the year, your service department shines time after time, the reviews will come rolling in, as will recommendations, likes, and, more importantly, new sales customers. Encourage repeat service customers to talk about their positive experiences online. Other potential customers who surf ratings and review sites will know they can trust you with their investment.
Customers currently using our Service Marketing Package, which hooks car buyers up with their own online garage and sends them personalized reminders when service is due, saw about a 40 percent lift in service department leads-with many of those leads coming from customers who had abandoned the dealership service department altogether.
by Matt Murray, Director of Digital Marketing