Dealership websites still are the primary portal for making online service appointments. But for this task, as with many others, more consumers are ditching desktop and laptop computers and doing business on their smartphones.
A growing number of dealerships offer their own phone apps, which, among other functions, enable customers to book service appointments. In some instances, automakers are helping.
Tom Gill Chevrolet in Florence, Ky., is seeing an increasing number of service customers use an app from General Motors called myChevrolet.
Mark Farney, the dealership's parts and service director, says that on a typical day, his department gets eight to 10 appointments from the app, compared with two or three from the dealership website.
Owners of OnStar-equipped GM vehicles from the 2011 model year and later can download the app, use it to select a Chevrolet dealership for service and link directly to the store's scheduling portal.
The vehicle identification number and owner's information automatically feed into the schedule. Other GM brands offer similar apps. Farney predicts more customers will use them.
The app "knows if something's wrong, how many miles the vehicle has, and it's going to send you reminders that it's time for maintenance," Farney says.
"It benefits the dealership to drive everyone to that app," he adds. "Chevrolet is really pushing that app because it's tied into OnStar, and everyone's walking around with their cellphones on all day long."