Your service department has replaced those old-school snail mail postcards and newspaper ads with web pages, email messages and Google searches as the most effective ways to reach your customers. So you're on the cutting edge of online marketing, right?
The most marketing-savvy dealerships also are communicating with their service customers via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, smartphone apps and slick YouTube videos. In a digital age, many other dealerships need to do more, and do it faster, to promote their shops online.
Although the typical dealership makes most of its profits from parts and service, says industry consultant Jeff Clark, it still devotes just 3 percent of its online content to fixed operations.
"Dealers are so focused on selling more cars that they tend to overlook what actually pays the bills and keeps the lights on," says Clark, the executive vice president of business development for DealerOn, a provider of dealership websites and interactive marketing services in Derwood, Md.
"They need to have an online service offering that is at or near parity with their sales offering," he says. "That means explaining the features and benefits of the service department, what a particular service does, and why they're the right dealership to service your vehicle."
Because 60 to 70 percent of vehicle owners search for service options on a smartphone, Clark told Fixed Ops Journal, dealers need to optimize their websites for mobile devices. They should strive to offer a "responsive" site that will automatically reformat according to the device it's viewed on — phone, tablet or personal computer.
"If you're designing your website to a desktop view, you need to get out of the 1980s," Clark says.