DETROIT -- General Motors is encouraging dealers to use OnStar to drum up service business.
OnStar, GM's satellite communications system, sends an e-mail notice to a dealership when a customer needs scheduled service. With the customer's permission, the dealership contacts him or her to schedule an appointment. GM calls the service Dealer Maintenance Notification.
GM says the service can increase a dealership's service revenues significantly -- up to $15,000 a month at some medium to large dealerships.
GM also says studies show that customers who are satisfied with a dealership's service are three times more likely to buy other vehicles from that dealership.
"I've probably added 15 to 20 appointments a week through OnStar," says Mike Zorn, service director at Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas.
Classic Chevrolet has about 130 to 135 service customers a day, Zorn says. The extra appointments from OnStar amount to about $7,000 to $10,000 a month in extra revenue.
"If you pursue it and you stick with it, it can't make you go backward," Zorn says. "It's the way all dealerships need to be going."
Starting in May, GM plans a marketing push to contact about 2.5 million OnStar subscribers who have signed up for a different service: vehicle diagnostics e-mails. GM wants them to sign up for Dealer Maintenance Notification, too.
The automaker will offer training about the service to dealership personnel.
Seven in 10 customers who sign up for Dealer Maintenance Notification make service appointments with their dealerships, says Paul Copses, executive director of sales and marketing at GM's Service and Parts Operations. About half of those who just get OnStar vehicle diagnostics e-mails make service appointments at their dealerships, he says.
Copses says the average large GM dealership has about 600 OnStar vehicle diagnostics subscribers who receive e-mail notifications.
About 100 need service each month, he says. So if the dealership had them all signed up for Dealer Maintenance Notification, Copses says, 70 percent would be retained at the dealership.
He says an average customer might spend about $200 each time, so that's about $14,000 a month of added income.
About 100,000 of GM's 3 million OnStar vehicle diagnostics subscribers have selected Dealer Maintenance Notification. Copses says GM's goal is to have about 500,000 subscribe to Dealer Maintenance Notification by year end.