How much attention does your fixed ops department get when it comes to your marketing budget? If you’re like the majority of dealerships, it’s a slim 10 percent or less. Why should sales get all the attention? It’s time to give some marketing love to your fixed ops. Here’s why:
Yes, your service department is likely slammed right now. Customers waiting weeks to a month for an appointment is more the norm than an abnormality. Yet, our current climate is anything but normal. Inventory levels will stabilize, more customers will be able to get into newer vehicles that require less maintenance, and your service bays will experience a slump in business within the next couple years.
Today’s leading dealers are strategizing now for the future. This includes thinking about ways to create greater connectivity between existing service customers and develop relationships with new customers.
Driving retention and new business is not a new idea for anyone. You’ve likely spent a lot of money training your team in the service introduction, offering discounts and coupons, and post-sale communication techniques. All key tactics of retention success…but you can always do more with your marketing dollars.
Below let’s explore the four components of a successful marketing roadmap for your fixed ops department.
1. Define short and long term goals. Break your goals down into short and long-term buckets. Short-term goals should be based around retaining current customers. Long-term goals should be based around developing new customers. How do you define your goals? Recruit leaders in your dealership, including your service managers and BDC manager, to help brainstorm. You’ll likely get some new ideas, plus when you involve more people in the process you’ll have better buy-in and commitment for what you’re trying to do.
To work through the rest of the roadmap, let’s choose one short-term goal and one-long term goal to illustrate how it works. Let’s say our fictional service department wants to improve the appointment scheduling process for current customers and staff. That’s our short-term goal. The same department wants to develop 10 new customer relationships per month. That’s our long-term goal.
2. Build a content strategy. The next step is to build your marketing messages, or content. Let’s start with our short-term goal from above. Our fictional service department wants to improve appointment scheduling, so leadership decides to implement a Digital Voice Assistant (DVA). The DVA will handle 100 percent of incoming calls and schedule appointments. Customers may be used to interacting with DVAs (through Alexa and Google Home, for example) but they still need to be educated on the what and the why of this new technology. Messaging should be around efficiency (schedule an appointment in three minutes instead of an average of six minutes with a human), 100 percent call connectivity (no more waiting on hold or dealing with frustrating call menus!), and ease of use. Remember, messaging needs to call out the benefits to customers, not to your service department.
Now, let’s look at the long-term goal of building 10 new customer relationships per month. Where do you start? Current market conditions are always a good bet. And there’s nothing more current now than high gas prices. Create a campaign around maintenance musts for fuel efficiency with a coupon for a free, no-obligation multi-point inspection that customers can download to their phones.
3. Choose marketing channels. Business is nothing without an audience. Your messages need to hit the right customers at the right time through the right channel. Your CRM is invaluable here. Use filters to segment current customers by mileage, date of last service, or recall data. Craft email and text messages that include the benefits of your new DVA (following our fictional service department example again) for scheduling that needed appointment. Use use A/B testing to see what’s working. Also create a script for BDC agents and service advisors explaining the new technology and its benefits.
Do the same for your long-term goal of pulling in customers with a free MPI. Segment leads and craft messages that hit on the benefits to customers. Make sure and also create scripts for BDC agents, service advisors, and sales so everyone is on the same page and ready to push the campaign.
Don’t forget video and social media. Video is exploding as an efficient and entertaining way to grab customer attention. Brainstorm other channels to broadcast your content. For example, customer testimonials on your website, sample vehicle walk-arounds on TikTok. Be creative – the best road to success in this market is super customer retention and acquisition.
4. Measure results. You have to measure results to do less of what’s not working and more of what’s making you money. It’s fairly easy to measure DVA adoption by analyzing dropped calls and opt-outs (those who choose to transfer to a human rather than engage with the DVA). Other campaigns may require you to review BDC and/or DMS analytics. Coupon campaigns can be manually audited by a receptionist or service advisors. A campaign that isn’t producing results can be refined or replaced – but you can’t manage without measuring.
Your fixed ops department deserves a bigger chunk of your marketing budget. After all, fixed ops is your best bet for steady revenue growth. Use this four-step marketing roadmap to get started. It’s not something you have the time to dig into correctly? Bring in industry experts to help.
To hear more about this topic check out our episode of PDS On The Rocks: A Marketing Roadmap for Fixed Operations
Tiffany Peeler is the VP of Sales & Operations for Proactive Dealer Solutions. Tiffany joined the Account Management team in 2014 and quickly became recognized for driving growth and retention with her expertise in developing and delivering effective coaching solutions. Today, Tiffany leads the sales and fulfillment teams with a laser focus on delivering industry-leading solutions to improve upon the customer experience and radically improving dealership profitability for over 1,200 North American dealerships.