Lithia Motors Inc. is rolling out a smartphone app so young customers can connect with dealerships.
The user can use the app to make service appointments, review new-vehicle inventory, receive sales and service promotions and perform other tasks, says Ron Stoner, the dealership group's vice president of fixed operations.
It also uses a GPS to help drivers find their autos in parking lots.
The app, My Lithia, can be downloaded free from Apple's app store to a Droid or Apple smartphone or an iPad. The app was developed by DMEautomotive, which sells dealership marketing products.
Stoner says the app is aimed at people aged 18 to 34.
"We have our Gen X and Gen Y customers, and e-mail works fine for them," Stoner says. "The phone is good for the baby boomers. But the new generation is all about the smartphone and texting."
Stoner says a large volume of Lithia's online service reservations are made before or after regular business hours. This app will enable people to do more of that and other things, such as browse Lithia's new-vehicle inventory.
Lithia says 58 of its 86 stores are now linked to the app, and Stoner says the number will grow.
Lithia, of Medford, Ore., is ranked No. 9 among Automotive News' top 125 U.S. dealership groups with 44,537 new retail units sold in 2011.