Text messages are becoming effective devices for dealership service departments to send customers discount coupons and notify them of other sales promotions. Advocates say such digital marketing enables dealers to boost service business while saving money by focusing on favored consumers.
But detractors assert that marketing by text message cheapens an important communications channel and overlooks older customers who prefer more traditional marketing appeals.
Hawkinson Nissan, in the Chicago suburb of Matteson, Ill., says it did nearly $168,000 in additional service business over seven months last year by texting a coupon for a $34.95 oil and filter change to about 2,400 customers who asked for it via a link on the dealership's website. Nearly 1,000 coupons were redeemed, and they generated an average of $168 in service work.
"We send out over 400 text coupons per month," says T.J. Blough, service director of Hawkinson Nissan and Hawkinson Kia, also in Matteson. "We probably redeem 230 or so. I am an advocate of it."
Since the dealerships started texting coupons about two years ago, the number of customers who approved additional service work after previously declining it has increased by 38 percent, Blough told Fixed Ops Journal. The number of so-called orphan customers — vehicle buyers who returned to the dealership for service for the first time after getting a coupon — rose by 22 percent.