Should Your Dealership’s Service Department Go Mobile?


We have all heard tale of days long ago when doctors used to make house calls. This was a common practice 50 years ago. In fact, folks used to get local milk and eggs delivered to their door, along with other many other products and services that were performed with a personal touch and a smile.

Today, there seems to be a resurgence of this concierge-style service. Pet groomers, auto detailing services, and even some doctors have started to offer mobile services with a personal touch. It seems we have come full circle.

This leads to a discussion about mobile mechanic services. It seems there have been a spike in the number of mobile auto service businesses lately. While this can be a difficult business model, the services that are doing it right are met with great success and high praise.

What is their secret, and can the business model be applied to dealership service departments?

Challenges of Mobile Auto Service

According to a blog post on DataOne Software’s website, the biggest complaints of failed mobile service businesses pertain to inadequate infrastructure, insurance and safety issues, and customer pricing issues. While not a primary concern, scheduling and dispatching can be challenging as well.

Infrastructure: As expected, some mechanics find it difficult to carry all the tools they need to complete necessary repairs. Diagnostics are also challenging, as is parts availability. Weather and location of the repair are other variables that can present significant challenges to completing the job.

Insurance/Safety: There are many opportunities to experience safety issues with mobile repair. Working alone can be dangerous, and poor weather presents its own challenges. The potential for spills and leaks can make cleanup of hazardous materials a nightmare. These safety and liability concerns lead to high insurance costs as well.

Customer Pricing: Without a clear pricing policy, customers can quickly get confused and are often not willing to pay extra for the convenience of a house call. Some services can also take substantially longer outside of the shop, and customers generally aren’t willing to pay the extra.

How to Make it Work

While challenges seem daunting, there are some mobile mechanic services that have experienced great success. The keys to success seem to lie in addressing the challenges listed above.

You must specialize and focus on the types of service best suited for mobile, and you must have an infrastructure in place to handle appointments, dispatch of technicians, and parts distribution.

By focusing on a limited menu of services that can easily be provided on-site, it is possible to limit challenges. Successful mobile service business also report that customer pricing needs to be clear and transparent, often charging by the service and not by the hour.

The Best Solution

While mobile service is an intriguing business model, it seems to work best with independent mechanics that either work alone, or as part of a network. It could be more difficult for a large dealership to play this game. Most dealerships have a nice big shop that comes with a lot of overhead. It needs to be utilized, and mobile service detracts from this goal.

At the end of the day, the mobile service customer is after one thing: convenience. If the performance of service on-site becomes inconvenient for them at any point, you will not succeed in this business model. Furthermore, there are other ways to deliver convenience without on-site service.

Before going headlong into the full mobile service experience, it would be wise to start small and test. Oil changes, tire rotations, brake jobs, and other simple service might be the best place to start. You may also wish to add a concierge pickup and delivery service for all other repairs. Remember the goal is convenience. With pickup and delivery, your customers will likely be just as happy as if you had done all of the work at their place.