Dealers should think big — really big — and consider building hundreds or even thousands of service-related web pages, industry analyst Jeff Clark says.
Service departments that fail to market themselves aggressively online are losing maintenance and repair jobs to digitally sophisticated competitors, says the executive vice president of business development for DealerOn.
Franchised dealerships, Clark notes, sell only 14 percent of parts, 17 percent of oil changes and 33 percent of tires to service customers.
He offers these digital suggestions to improve that performance:
- Gear your website and digital marketing to keeping current service customers coming back. Offer them loyalty coupons and discounts, and remind them of the quality of your shop's work.
- Let these customers know that you would like to buy their well-maintained used vehicle — and sell them a new car or truck.
- Focus your website initially on basic services, such as oil changes, brakes and tires. Then add content over weeks and months.
- Use digital media and blog posts to explain products such as tires and batteries, and the importance of regular maintenance. Include photos and videos of such things as worn brake pads and rotors.
- Show current service specials and discount coupons on your website. Let service customers know you provide amenities such as free car washes, shuttles and loaner vehicles.
- Give customers the ability to book a service appointment easily online, via personal computer, smartphone or tablet.
- Provide an online configurator that lets customers identify the tires available for their vehicle and shows how much they cost. Offer an alignment check with new tires something that some aftermarket competitors don't provide.
- If you want to appear prominently on search engines, especially Google, develop extensive content on your site that fits the most popular search terms for vehicle service, such as oil changes, batteries and brakes. That's called "search engine optimization."
- The same goes for "search engine marketing," paid advertising that pops up in Internet searches. "You want to make sure that if you're on the paid search side of it, you've got good quality content to drive people to you once they've clicked on that link," Clark says.
- Automakers, suppliers and other vendors provide service-related web content that dealers can use. Customize that content for your dealership with unique geographical or brand identifiers.
- Create a full online parts store that allows retail customers to order, pay and arrange shipping for parts digitally.
- Advertise aftermarket parts and accessories on your website. Let customers know that your service department can install them, and that both parts and installation are covered by a factory warranty.
- You don't have to be selling all the time. Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to highlight your dealership's involvement in community events and charities. That builds goodwill among potential service customers.