Technology, Efficiency & Consumer Education
As new vehicle inventories continue to fall industry-wide, dealers are looking beyond vehicle sales for revenue growth. The service department is an obvious place to start, and for Russel B. Hill of Fixed Ops Marketing, there are three key areas dealers should focus on to drive service profit growth: technology, efficiency, and consumer education. While these may sound like three new things to add to your existing “to do” list, choosing the right technology and using it appropriately is the key to success in all of them.
Choosing the Right Technology for Your Needs
Dealers today have plenty of technology suites and options available to them, each promising to make managing your store’s operations easier and more efficient. But not all technology is right for every store. Before making an investment, ask yourself the following: what is the system, what does it do, and what’s in it for you and your store if you move forward? As Russell B. Hill points out in his interview with NAC’s Corey Smith, if using the technology requires dealer personnel to do something, it isn’t actually saving time. Effectively, your staff now has the added responsibility of managing the technology in addition to their other tasks, which will make operations less efficient than when you started. Investing in technology should make doing business easier, not create extra steps! Doing your research and possessing a strong knowledge of what steps are required to execute your store’s existing processes and procedures will help you choose the technology that will enhance—not hinder—your streamlining efforts.
Embracing Technology to Educate and Capture Customers
Technology can do more than streamline operations: it can also inform and engage your customers. The use of in-store and online video content and a well-built, engaging website can bolster what service advisors discuss with customers and aid in upselling beyond the standard oil change. The key is to provide consumers with appealing content: if the content isn’t enticing to you, odds are it won’t be enticing to a customer, either.
Hill advises dealers not to forget their service department website: too often these sites seem like an afterthought when compared to a store’s sales pages, and that’s a missed opportunity. Customers will almost certainly visit your website before they visit your store, and they’ll be asking themselves the same three questions that dealers should ask about technology: who are you, what can you do, and what’s in it for me? Customers want to be able to answer all those questions within 3 “clicks” on your site—you have to make them count! Incorporating video is critical in capturing customers’ attention: within the next year, 82% of online consumption will be video content. Aside from being interesting, the content should reinforce the value proposition of doing business with your service department.
It bears repeating that today’s consumers expect to find discounts and other special offers featured when they visit a business’s website. For dealers, specials and coupons should be front-and-center—easily found in the navigation banner at the top of your website—to maximize those 3 clicks. Integrating these offers with an online appointment booking feature—another “must have” for today’s service web portal—creates a built-in upsell opportunity that the customer selects on their own. Online appointment booking can also serve as another gateway to getting video in front of your customers: follow-up communications via email or text can contain videos, as can post-visit follow-ups.
For more of Corey Smith’s conversation with Russell B. Hill, tune into NAC’s Fixed Ops 5 podcast, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen. You can also view a video recording of Hill's interview on our YouTube channel by clicking here.