The study identifies five opportunities for franchised dealerships to build on their strengths and attract and keep service customers:
1. Overcoming vehicle owners' reluctance to return to the dealership for service by picking up vehicles for repair and maintenance and then returning them, and providing mobile service away from the dealership.
2. Giving customers a more specific idea of how the amount spent on service helps maintain a vehicle's value, and providing them the trade-in value of their car or truck when they bring it in for service.
3. Making service customers more aware of their ability to schedule appointments on the dealership website. About one in five dealership service visits is scheduled online. Among customers who don't make online appointments, the study says, more than one-third don't know that's an option.
4. Providing price ranges for services, including those of competitors, on the website. Most consumers say they would choose a dealership for service over a competitor if it gave cost estimates during online scheduling, the study says.
5. Enabling service customers to use the dealership website to monitor their vehicles' service history and get recall updates, service reminders and maintenance recommendations.
Roche says the way dealerships provide service is "changing under our feet."
Service customers, he says, "don't want the lowest price — they want a fair price and a good service experience." Younger customers are most dissatisfied with dealership service and especially want to do service business online, he adds.
The Cox study cites Temecula Hyundai in California as an example of a dealership that provides a customer-centered service experience and disdains excessive upselling. Its director of operations, Steve Nicholson, describes his shop's philosophy: "Rather than take a lot from a few, we want to gain a little from a lot. We want to see the customer more than once."
The study is based on surveys of 3,550 dealership service customers and 404 dealership employees involved in fixed operations.