By 2020, the collective money that consumers will spend on aftermarket parts and services is expected to grow to $722.8 billion. One primary reason for this large number is that car buyers are holding onto their cars much longer. For example, as of 2015, the average vehicle had been on the road for almost 12 years—a record high!
So, this means that customers are going to require even more servicing to keep these cars operational. However, when it comes to servicing, independent repair shops are being visited more often (75 percent) than dealerships (25 percent). So, what are some ways that you can begin to tap into this market and get more customers visiting your service department? We’ve included some helpful tricks you can start to implement at your dealership immediately:
Have a Landing Page Discussing Everything You Offer
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it is essential that you let new and returning customers know that your dealership is a one-stop-shop for purchasing vehicles and handling their repair needs. According to this data presented by V12, most people visit dealerships for tire rotation, oil changes, air filter repair, and car washes.
However, when it came to independent repair shops, individuals purchased engine repairs, inspections, brake maintenance, and many other forms of repair servicing. There could be a perception that dealerships handle specific maintenance tasks while repair shops handle everything else. So, if you offer a variety of other repair services, be sure to list that on your service page, and even treat them as keywords in your copy for SEO purposes.
Create Campaigns Targeted at Previous Customers
According to John Wiley and Sons, it is ten times more expensive to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. So, make targeting your past customers a priority. For example, hopefully, you and your team have a CRM system that you use to track all customer interactions. Since you have information on when customers purchased cars from you or came in for their last servicing, you can use this data to your advantage. You can send an email or make a phone call to remind them of air filter maintenance, oil changes, or inspections. The date they bought the car can help you strategically send these reminders so they correspond to when they will likely need them most. You can even offer a discount or coupon to entice them to come in for the first (or second) time.
Offering Discounts and Special Pricing
V12’s data mentioned above also revealed that coupons and offers were one of the main incentives that enticed customers to either visit a quick lube or tire shop. While you don’t always want to revert to this tactic, it is a great way to get customers in the door initially. In today’s world, vehicle transaction prices are some of the highest they have been, and customers are looking for some financial breathing room. You can give them this by way of coupons and discounts. Providing ten percent off on any repair on birthdays, or offering a seasonal sale on routine maintenance services can go a long way.
Get and Offer Recommendations
Again, pointing back to V12’s data, one of the main reasons customers cited for visiting a repair shop was that someone they knew recommended it to them. For your dealership, encouraging referrals and asking for recommendations can really help. You can offer an incentive to customers who refer a friend or ask for a testimonial from customers that discusses how well your service department handled their repair needs. Both examples allow you to begin to mobilize your service department customers to become brand ambassadors for you.
Lift the Veil at Your Service Department
Video has become crucial in the world of automotive retail. Customers like to see videos that show test drives, car features, and additional information that is helpful during the car buying process. So, you can boost your influence, authority, and transparency by including videos that show what goes on behind the scenes in your service department. You can have service department employees discuss their roles, provide helpful and quick educational information, and personally invite customers to the dealership.
Service departments account for 11 percent of the revenue at dealerships. Fortunately, with the right marketing tactics and messaging, dealerships can increase this number while using service appointments to raise customer retention. Don’t feel as if you have to implement all of the above tactics at once. Start with one, build on that, and see how you can expand further. With some savvy strategy and marketing tactics, your service department can become a primary revenue stream for you and your dealership.