Convenience is one of the biggest factors that influences customers when choosing where to take their vehicles for service. For the younger generation it even trumps price. Independents know this and it is one of their key marketing messages, along with speed of service.
Dealers tend to fall behind in this type of messaging in general and have to fight consumer perception that service from a franchised dealership is inconvenient, expensive and takes too long. Today’s consumers don’t want to have to drive to a dealership, drop their car off and return later – especially when there is a Jiffy Lube around the corner from their workplace that promises 30-minute oil changes.
How can dealerships alter that perception and make their service departments more attractive to consumers?
Well, I have seen several dealers kill it in their marketplace with remote delivery and pickup for service customers. It is a highly successful action and, I promise you, is well worth looking into.
With a remote pickup and delivery service you can easily trump any independent, as well as other dealers in your market. Consumers would prefer to have you pick up their vehicle from their home or workplace and return it upon completion of service, rather than drive to a location — even around the corner to Jiffy Lube. This is the future of automotive service and customer experience.
And, let’s take this concept one step further. What about when autonomous cars proliferate the roads? It wouldn’t surprise me if, in the not-too-distant future, a consumer can simply push a button and the vehicle drives itself to the dealership, returning on its own when service is completed – just like a Roomba – but on a much larger scale.
But until technology develops to that point, the next best thing for a consumer is to have a convenient way to get their vehicle serviced with as little friction or effort as possible. If you offer your customers this level of service, along with the latest technology such as photos and videos of what needs fixing to help improve the customer’s understanding, you will find that, as a result, you have more opportunities to fix the car right the first time. In addition, by placing the consumer in a relaxed state of mind, enjoying the convenience of your service, they are also that much more likely to trust you and accept your recommendations.
According to a US Federal Reserve study, car sales fell 60% for the age group 16-34 from 2000 to 2016. Add to that the fact that a franchised dealer only sees one out of every three repairs, and it may be time to stop building mansions equipped with movie theaters and Starbucks and instead focus on implementing remote delivery and pickup services, along with satellite repair facilities. If you don’t increase your repair penetration, with car sales decreasing, eventually fixed operations will get impacted.
Showing your customers that you value their time is the single biggest differentiator today. If you show appreciation and your customers find that your dealership accommodates all their needs, customers will start choosing you over independents and the competition down the road. Your dealership will become the customer’s one and only place for all their vehicle needs.