As of August 2019, there were 2.46 million apps in the Google Play store, and 1.96 million in the Apple app store. Many companies feel that having a mobile app is beneficial to their business growth, and in a way, they aren’t wrong. Ninety percent of time spent on mobile phones is on mobile apps.
Also, these apps are slated to bring in $581.9 billion in revenue by 2020. So, there is much money to be made for your dealership. However, it is crucial to know the good—and not-so-good—elements involved with developing an app for your dealership. So, take a moment to see if developing an app is the right move for your company below.
Pro – They are Easier to Navigate Than Websites
Mobile apps are not meant to be a replica of your website. Instead, they should take the services you offer—including those on display on your website—and make them easier to navigate to. Mobile apps are excellent ways to create a less complicated customer experience. For example, while you may require customers to call a number on your website to set up a test drive, you can instead include a button on the app that lets customers either call directly from the app or fill out a mobile form for scheduling. It takes a process with two steps and takes it down to one.
Con – The Cost
It makes sense to develop an app only if you are sure it can lead to sales that allow you to recoup the expense. Mobile apps are typically developed for two platforms (Android and Apple). Having someone develop the app for both mobile systems can be expensive. It also can be costly to have a developer create an app that has the functionality needed to set it apart from what the website can do. So, be sure to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if going down this road is worth it.
Pro – Can Use Push Notifications to Engage Customers in Promotion
A mobile app allows you to have a considerable amount of access to your customers that you do not get through social media or a website. Much like email, an app allows you to bring the messaging straight to the consumer. In this case, you can utilize push notifications to notify customers of new car acquisitions, promotions, incentives, and events. For example, let’s say you are having an end-of-year sale event, you can send notifications of this event on the mobile app, and even set up location-based notices that alert them to sales when they are in the vicinity of your dealership.
Con – Continuous Maintenance
The development work doesn’t stop once the app is ready to go live. It is crucial to have a developer on call to help keep the app operational. They will likely need to run updates, test for any potential security breaches, and even ensure the app stays compliant with iOS and Android software rules (these can change when a major operating system update occurs). So, be sure to budget for continued maintenance and service.
Pro – Integrate Your App with Social Media and Spur More Service-Related Appointments
Apps make it easy to connect your social media presence to your business dealings. You can set up Twitter and Instagram on the app to easily allow customers to share information or their experience with your dealership brand. It can also make it easier for customers to interact with your staff, as many apps today allow for quick and efficient message sharing. Also, a mobile app can be just what your service department needs to ramp up sales. Much like with the test drive, customers can quickly schedule service appointments, and can even speak to a service staff member within the app.
Con – Getting Customers Engaged with It
You may have created an app that makes the car buying and servicing experience straightforward and easy-to-navigate. Customers may be able to inquire about a car, schedule a test drive, and calculate potential monthly payments all through the app. However, these elements don’t matter if your customers don’t know about it. This situation means that some of your budget needs to go toward marketing this app and showing all it can do. You are going to have to spotlight the benefits of downloading this app, and explain why they need to have it on their phone. This step can be challenging to do if you have not set goals for what this app can help your customers to accomplish.
Small businesses who use mobile services are likely to see revenues increasing two times faster than their competitors. This news can be great for your dealership. However, you have to weigh the pros and cons mentioned above to see if a mobile app makes sense for your dealership.
If you have a fairly loyal customer base that you want to better engage with than a mobile app might make sense. However, if you are still trying to find your target audience, then you may want to invest in other marketing techniques before jumping into mobile app development. It all depends on your goals and what you are looking to gain for your dealership.