A growing number of car dealers are concluding that the TV flickering in the service area waiting room should do more than keep customers up on sports scores and soap operas.
Many dealerships, with help from the factory, are streaming price menus, sales promotions, F&I offerings and used-vehicle inventory to Internet-connected TVs in their service waiting rooms.
Fran Pomarico, executive manager at Poughkeepsie Nissan in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., says his store has sold dozens of extended warranty contracts through advertising on the flat-screen TV in his store's service-area waiting room.
"That's the time when the warranty is on their mind, when they're in for a repair or maintenance," Pomarico says. "You have a captive audience. Why not show them visually what you have to offer?"
The TV displays regular programming while messages of used-car inventories or F&I offerings appear every few minutes in the bottom one-third of the screen, shrinking the program without interrupting it.
The content is streamed from an Internet-based device provided by AdVantageTec Inc. of San Rafael, Calif. The vendor updates the content through a media-player device, about the size of a paperback book, that streams information straight from the dealership's Web site.
AdVantageTec charges $259 a month to provide the media player for one TV; $229 for two TVs and $199 for three. There also is an upfront charge for setup.
Courtesy Chevrolet in San Jose, Calif., recently installed 32-inch screens in each service adviser's office. In addition to pricing menus and promotions, the TVs also scroll personal tidbits about service advisers' interests or families.
"It's a conversation starter," says Alex Bo, Courtesy's assistant service manager. "It puts the customer at ease while giving them relevant information at the same time."
Chevrolet recently rolled out nationally a program that broadcasts service pricing, product videos and local weather via YouTube. The dealership can customize the content, which streams from General Motors' Web-based information portal.
Rich Diver, president of Diver Chevrolet in Wilmington, Del., has one YouTube TV in his service write-up area and another in the waiting room. He said they offer "a really clean stream of good content," everything from service deals to commercials for the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Corvette.
Unlike the Poughkeepsie Nissan system, though, Diver's YouTube screen doesn't play TV shows. Diver acknowledges that his regular TV running in a separate part of the waiting room draws more eyeballs than the promotional screen. But he says it's a less invasive solution.
"It's more of a subliminal message, a soft sell," Diver says. "People don't want to be overwhelmed by the messaging. If they want to watch 'Dr. Phil' or whatever, they can. But it's a nice complement to the regular waiting room setup."