“Fixed operations has not had enough online attention,” says Denim Simkins of Performance Auto Group.
Auto dealership websites typically go heavy on vehicle sales, light on service-department offerings.
That should change, at least somewhat, says Denim Simkins, a regional fixed-operations director for Performance Auto Group with 11 dealerships in Ohio and five in Utah.
Since the start of this year, he’s worked on giving a greater website and search-engine presence to Performance’s service and parts operations.
“Fixed operations have not had enough online attention,” Simkins says at a recent DrivingSales Presidents Club conference session. “I realized I wasn’t doing enough (digitally) to drive (service) traffic.”
Sure, a dealer website might offer an occasional online oil-change coupon or a “click-here-for-service-department” button on the home page.
But front-end operations occupy most of the prime real estate on dealership websites. Similarly, most dealership search-engine optimization and marketing initiatives are devoted to selling cars rather than fixing them.
That could change as service-department profit margins continue to outpace those of new-vehicle sales.
“Fixed operations are going to become a main part of dealerships as we continue to see new-car profit margins deteriorate to almost nothing,” says Mark Rogers, a dealership management consultant for the National Automobile Dealers Assn.
Simkins recommends dealers reassess how the service and parts departments fit into overall digital marketing strategies. “Does your fixed operation have a presence online, or is it just present? There’s this huge opportunity to capture business.”
Americans spend about $310 billion to maintain their cars, and dealerships get less than a third of that business, he notes. The lion’s share goes to independent and chain repair shops, many of them master marketers online.
“Our competitors are cleaning up,” Simkins says, adding that U.S. consumers do 70 million repair-facility searches a month.
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