Forward-thinking car dealers have seen fixed operations department profits and efficiency significantly improve over the last year, according to new research by Cox Automotive.
As the automotive industry looks to recover from pandemic-related disruptions and accommodate changing consumer preferences, car dealers have increasingly implemented new frameworks and toolkits for service departments. Cox Automotive’s 2023 Forward-Thinking Dealership Study lists three key areas where retailers made crucial advancements in the fixed operations customer experience: transparency, flexibility and efficiency. Digital tools, such as online payments, digital service quotes, technician-to-client video-chat, text, web and email-based appointment scheduling and automatic dispatch programs for technicians, made the process more convenient for clients.
Car dealers who integrated these new tools saw fixed operations profit increase by 28% and technician efficiency by 42% in only 12 months. Unfortunately, a majority of storefronts are missing out on these benefits: only 33% of car dealers qualified as forward-thinking in Cox Automotive’s study. The remaining 67% still rely on traditional methods, avoid automated processes and rely on outdated digital technology.
The need for optimization in the fixed operations space is greater than ever. Customers have evolved under the pressures of economic headwinds, technological revolution and an increasingly busy and connected world. Automotive retailers always have prioritized customer service, and when it comes to traditionally client-facing roles, such as sales, few other industries have matched the enthusiasm with which car dealers have adopted new strategies and tools. But since many storeowners and managers in the business come from a sales background, the service department can often be neglected. Repair and maintenance work is one of the most profitable and engagement-boosting components in the car business. The more storefronts allow these segments to become outdated, the more they place their revenue and customer service scores at risk.