The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dealerships to embrace new operation tactics. In turn, customers have enjoyed an unprecedented level of convenience. Safety concerns resulted in dealer staff delivering vehicles for test drives and purchases, and allowing dealership visits by appointment only.
One of the additional changes has been a look at mobile servicing, a process where dealership service professionals visit the customers to conduct repairs on their cars. Much like the days where doctors visited patients, mobile servicing is a house call for “sick” cars. Agile dealerships around the country could be weighing if this is a viable long-term option to enhance the customer experience. So, who is experimenting with this, and how can dealerships incorporate it at their dealership?
Ford and Tesla Are Currently Trying It Out
In 2017, Ford began offering mobile servicing to customers in the UK. Last year, Ford added California to the list of places where they were trying out this service. Ford equips service techs with Sprinter vans outfitted with all the equipment needed to handle maintenance and repairs.
Unlike at dealerships where administrative staff handle scheduling and payments, techs are trained to manage these processes themselves. If Ford’s test run in California is successful, there are plans to expand service to Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida.
Additionally, Tesla has also started offering mobile servicing, with a team available 365 days of the year. If more automakers consider offering direct servicing like Tesla and Ford, then it could become an expected service and option. Consequently, dealerships that experiment with this service could put themselves ahead of the curve and rise above the competition.
How Your Dealerships Can Start to Implement This Service
While there will always be a group of consumers who are open to visiting showrooms for servicing, there is a growing number of potential car buyers that value convenience over in-person interactions. For example, recent stats have revealed that many consumers prefer another non-traditional service: purchasing cars online.
A recent study by Cox Automotive found that two out of three shoppers prefer to buy their cars online. If the pendulum is swinging with this trend, then the same could occur with things like mobile servicing.
Here are a few ways dealerships can gradually implement this service:
- Experiment – Every option isn’t for everyone. You may find that your clientele doesn’t require or need this service. So, select a small sample in your geographic area and offer it temporarily.
- Focus on smaller repairs – Dealership service departments are outfitted to handle complex repairs. It would be impossible to replicate this for mobile service technicians. Therefore, an alternative would be to have technicians handle smaller and more routine maintenance like oil changes, brake maintenance, tire rotations, air filter changes, and any other service that doesn’t require extensive equipment.
- Train technicians on handling the entire experience – Ford and Tesla technicians are trained to manage the entirety of the servicing process. They show up, communicate with the client, manage the problem, and then handle the payment. Many of your service staff may already be skilled at doing this, but you want to prepare them for how their role will change as a mobile servicer.
- Acquire the right technology – How will customers pay? What technology do technicians need to collect and store customer information? You want them to capture customer information and data, conduct payments, and even allow customers to take surveys. This step may require an investment in tablets and CRM and payment software.
These are just a few of the points to consider if you decide to implement mobile servicing at your dealership.
The Potential Benefits Mobile Servicing Can Have At Your Dealership
Jason Sprawka, director of customer experience in North America at Ford, voiced the perks mobile servicing could bring to dealerships: “The dealership can increase the amount it’s earning on service and free up technicians and service bays at the dealer.” Mobile servicing allows you to offer convenience, safely limit the number of people in the dealership, and free up your service department to handle more extensive and expensive repairs.
Some individuals may never come to a dealership to get their oil changed, but they will order a mobile servicing. As a result, this service expands your opportunity to generate revenue.
You can offer mobile servicing in the form of a subscription service or tiered offerings. Depending on your geographic area and the inputs needed to get started, mobile servicing could be a successful addition to your dealership.
If this is something you are thinking of offering, conduct a cost-benefit analysis, survey your consumers, and talk to your service team. You may find that experimenting with mobile servicing can help you distance yourself from the competition, and increase brand loyalty among your customers.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.