Fix Your Focus on Fixed Marketing
Sales numbers continue rolling in and they keep causing concern. As profits from vehicle sales decline, it’s time to give your fixed operations department some well-deserved love.
Recent NADA reports show the average fixed ops department provides approximately 50 percent of their dealership’s gross profits.
But most dealerships contribute less than 10% of their marketing efforts to fixed operations.
Your marketing plan should rely on services customers want and need most. We see many dealerships who aren’t sure how to market service because they’ve only sent mailers every once in a while. Just like sales, service needs to run a multi-channel strategy, too.
Consider these ideas:
Make an offer.
50% of consumers are in the market for a vehicle for less than 45 days, but drive it for about the next 12 years. That’s a long window of opportunity to bring them into your service drive and they are just a click away with a relevant email offer.
Consistently engage your customers with a newsletter filled with more than sales offers—shake it up with lifestyle pieces, community engagement articles, or maintenance tips for popular vehicles. Then, throw a service offer in the mix for proactive maintenance.
Pro-tip: If you post this kind of original content to your website or blog, it helps your search ranking online. Google’s algorithms search for relevancy, originality, content, and many other details to determine your site’s rank.
Update customer information.
As vehicles become more advanced, customers aren’t only buying less frequently—they’re servicing less, too. Cars in great condition can go months (and sometimes a year) without any scheduled service visits. When the time comes for another oil change or manufacturer recommended maintenance, it’s important your customers remember you.
Using your marketing database, keep email and home addresses updated with customer and vehicle information. With each service visit, send follow-up communications to customers via email and direct mail to schedule another appointment.
Pro-tip: If your follow-up process isn’t automatic, you’re potentially missing thousands of dollars in opportunities from declined service. Set reminders or triggers to send marketing materials at specific intervals to draw customers back in.
Know your market.
Analysis of your market allows you to target the prospects most likely to come to your dealership for service. Customers won’t drive far for service when they’re looking for speed and cost efficiency, so knowing who to target in your backyard makes a huge difference.
Social media advertising is great for targeting previous customers that haven’t been around for a while. If you have their current information in your database, you can target them with ‘claim offer’ ads for proactive maintenance work.
Since vehicle owners are more likely to visit for reactive service than schedule proactive maintenance, paid search advertisements are great for service advertising as well. Customers can search ‘repair shop near me’ and find your dealership when they need someone nearby.
Pro-tip: If you personalize your advertisements’ text, customers can call in, get directions, book an appointment, and more right from their mobile device or desktop. Google prioritizes mobile optimization, so making sure your content is accessible on all devices is important.
Show your value.
On average, dealerships dedicate less than 5 percent of their website to service and parts. As online research on service work continues to climb, it pays to show off the back-end of your store. Creating content to drive trust and relationships with service customers increases the odds they come to you.
Do you offer towing, roadside assistance, or a shuttle service for your customers? Promote it! Other ideas include FAQs, maintenance tips, how-to and informative videos, and seasonal car care tips. Drivers service their cars for years before entering the market again for a new vehicle. Become a trustworthy resource to keep them coming to you for maintenance and repairs.
Pro-tip: Consumers turn to Youtube and Facebook videos to learn about vehicles before servicing or buying a car. Provide video content linked to your website to boost SEO and web traffic.
Connect your teams.
Often fixed operations runs separately from variable because they’re responsible for two different segments of the vehicle ownership cycle. Sales customers aren’t told about service until the F&I office tries to sell service packages or the first generic email for an oil change is sent out.
Associate the excitement of a car purchase with the service drive! When a deal is completed, introduce the customer to the service drive. Have an advisor greet them and schedule their first regular maintenance appointment.
Pro-tip: Service retention is like running a sprint and a marathon at once. Today’s consumer looks for good service, speed, and convenience, meaning you have to be efficient and quick. But service isn’t a one-and-done solution. Customers who return to service are more likely to spend more with each visit (hello, recommended not done repairs!). Keep your customers satisfied and they’ll return after their next vehicle purchase, too.
No one wants to service their vehicle. People are busy, they can’t afford hundreds in repairs, and—let’s face it—it’s never a convenient time for their car to break down. Between making the first online search to watching the service drive disappear in the rearview, customers expect the best you can offer. So offer them an experience made especially for them.