Most Americans shop on Amazon or eBay and the negative impact on brick and mortar retail outlets is far-reaching. Customers have proven they want to shop and order goods and services online, and are leaving the traditional consultation style establishments behind.

When we shop on Amazon, we see pricing, availability, alternative products, and tracking information once it ships. How similar is your business to this experience? Sure, a customer can book an appointment online at most dealerships, but can they see what the service will cost, which additional service options are available, and are they electronically updated on the vehicle’s status?

Many cities have seen explosive growth with consumers ordering lunch and dinner for delivery via smartphone apps. Customers see menus, pictures, get food status updates via text, and can text in if they have questions.

Customers have grown to expect, at a minimum, the same convenience ordering a 10,000-mile service as ordering $10 take-out.

The airline industry struggled with internet shopping, but they have adapted to make it profitable. Imagine if you went to your favorite airline’s website, booked a flight to New York, and were told you will not be given a price until you discuss the flight with an agent in person at the airport. What would you do? Would you still book it with an unknown price, or would you go to another website that gave you the information to make an informed purchase? What would you do if you called and the person you spoke with did not have the authorization to give pricing, then transferred you to a voicemail that gave a promise to call you back?

It’s simple, you would go find a different airline.

Think about your dealership and be honest. Can your customers see in advance what services are available, and what they cost? Can your BDC consistently quote pricing on a call and, if not, how often does that call end up on an advisor’s voicemail?

Does your store offer an experience similar to what customers have grown to expect in these other industries? If not, why haven’t you changed?

Service Managers, by and large, are worried that if they show pricing it will hurt them, and the usual concerns are:

  • It will not be accurate, and they will have to eat the mistake when the customer arrives
  • The customer will think the price is too expensive and continue to shop for a better deal

Let us address these two points:

  • Building factory menus can be a challenge, however, once built, they are accurate and give your advisors a consistent, uniform platform to upsell using a Good/Better/Best presentation. A great vendor will hold your hand through this process
  • Many erroneously believe that all customers are bargain hunters. Think about yourself. Do you shop for the best deal only, or do you shop for a deal that is reasonable and convenient? The internet does not just cater to bargain shoppers; it caters to all shoppers. Revisiting our airline ticketing example, do you shop for the cheapest flight, or do you spend a bit more for the right connections and departure time?

Other industries have profitably adapted, and have proven that giving the customer the power to make informed decisions works. Stop asking customers to take a leap of faith! Show them that your pricing is in line, and use software that allows them to not only easily book an appointment, but get updates on vehicle status, and completion time. If your local burger joint can figure it out, your service drive will suffer if you don’t.

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