Dealerships are rapidly adopting Web tools that let customers use smartphones or computers to make service appointments.
Take Woburn Toyota in suburban Boston, which added a mobile scheduler to its Web site scheduler last spring. During the first week of December, 33 of the 189 service appointments made online at Woburn Toyota were from mobile devices, said Diana D'Avanzo, the store's fixed operations director.
"I see all the appointments that come in, and we're getting them at 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock in the morning -- any time of the day or night," D'Avanzo said.
Thirty percent of dealer Web sites have a tool to let customers schedule maintenance and service online, said Brice Englert, a general product manager at Dominion Dealer Solutions. Dominion provides dealers with inventory management and Web marketing tools.
Englert expects that percentage to grow rapidly as more consumers rely on smartphones and tablets.
Smartphones and tablets this year are expected to outsell desktop and laptop computers for the first time, he said.
D'Avanzo said Woburn Toyota, one of four stores George Albrecht owns in the Boston area, added the mobile scheduler at about the same time that it launched a quick in-and-out service for customers. That service lets customers set appointments for routine service that will take an hour or less, such as oil changes and tire rotations, D'Avanzo said. Online service bookings now account for 37 percent of all service appointments vs. 19 percent before the mobile scheduler and in-and-out service program launched in April, she said.
Woburn Toyota uses the Dominion scheduler for its online scheduling. The dealership sells about 250 new and used vehicles monthly.