With the service department making up 49% of the dealership’s gross profit, it must continue to grow with the times. If dealerships don’t adopt new technologies before the other dealers in the area, customers and profit will be lost.

As the automotive industry continues to change with higher customer expectations, margin compression and increased competition, fixed operations offer great potential to bring more income.

Dealers must use technology to create a customer-centric department. These changes go beyond putting Wi-Fi in the waiting area. Here are some ways to leverage technology to improve sales and the customer experience.

Online Scheduling

The simplest first step is to introduce online scheduling for service appointments. If you already offer this perk, you might see it is underused. However, it goes unnoticed because your customers don’t know about it.

Brainstorm ideas to ensure your clients know about the online scheduling tool. You could send out a text message blast or email to regular customers. Maybe you could throw in a special offer to anyone that schedules their first appointment online.

Simple Check-in Process

Once the appointment has been scheduled, you want to create a seamless check-in process. With iPads, customers can check themselves in and minimize the paperwork. It also helps capture valuable customer data for your marketing efforts.

Ford took this a step further and launched a kiosk check-in system. Not only is the system cutting-edge, but it gives us a glimpse into how the industry is changing.

Instead of waiting for busy service advisors, customers can check themselves in at the kiosk. Not only does this speed up the process, but it provides a no-contact situation.

There are also outdoor kiosk versions being created to aid with vehicle drop-off and pick-up. Eventually, these systems will be able to accept and deliver keys.

Transportation Alternatives

Once service is done, technology can help get your customers back to the dealership. Instead of providing a loaner or shuttle service, consider cutting costs by emailing out promo codes for Lyft or Uber.

Many of today’s consumers would rather use a ride-sharing service anyway, plus the service is faster than your shuttle service, which often leaves clients waiting.

Additionally, you benefit some local drivers that will remember you when they need service or when their families are looking for recommendations.

Texting is Paramount

It doesn’t take much research to see that your dealership must be using text messaging. Texting vs. email statistics shows that text messages receive a 98% open rate, versus email at just 20%. Plus, text messaging produces a 45% response rate, where email only averages 6%. That’s a lot more customers you can get in contact with simply by using text messaging.

With the advanced texting platforms available, you can include shortcodes and keywords into the marketing materials to increase inbound service requests.

More importantly, you can stay in contact with your customers. They can ask questions and schedule their appointments through text messages.

Final Thoughts

Technology is going to continue rising, leaving your dealership behind if you don’t act now. With a few simple upgrades, you provide more convenience to your customers, which improves satisfaction and ensures repeat business.

Start with one of our steps above and you will quickly see the difference.

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