Car servicing and maintenance is a major revenue source for any dealership, and, accordingly, dealerships must do all they can to increase customer engagement with the dealership’s service department. There is a lot of room for improvement for car dealerships here, as, according Cox Automotive’s 2016 Maintenance & Repair Study, car dealerships perform only 30% of service appointments. The other 70% of service appointments go to independent, non-dealership service providers.
Customer Reasons for Visiting (and Not Visiting) a Dealership's Service Center
The same study lists customers’ primary reasons for visiting their car dealership for service appointments. These reasons are that the dealership knows the vehicle, the dealership employs “certified/highly qualified technicians,” the dealership has “knowledgeable staff,” the dealership uses “genuine parts, tools, and diagnostic equipment,” and the dealership clearly explains the provided services.
On the other side of this coin, the study notes the primary reasons why customers do not visit their car dealership for service appointments. These reasons are that the “cost is NOT reasonable,” the dealership will “overcharge me,” there will be unreasonable labor and parts charges, and the distance/location of the car dealership is not convenient when compared to third party service technicians. As evident from these listed reasons, the majority of customer issues with car dealership service centers has to do with the perceived prices.
The Use For a Custom Mobile App & Important Features
In order to increase service center revenues, a car dealership must broadcast their strengths in areas that customers credit with motivating them to visit a car dealership’s service center. Simultaneously, car dealers must improve in areas that may lead to customers not visiting the car dealership. One way that car dealerships can meet these demands is through the use of a custom, mobile app that is dedicated to their car service and maintenance center.
Below we will list several features that can be included in such a mobile app, and we will describe how these features can help increase revenues for your dealership's service center.
Service & Maintenance Reminders
One obvious yet important way to increase service center revenues is to make sure customers know when they need to come in for a check-up or routine service appointment. While these appointments and needs may be obvious to a technician or someone in the automotive industry, many customers have no idea about the regular needs of their vehicle. A custom mobile app can alert users of necessary appointments through push notifications on their mobile phone and nudge these customers to come into the shop. These notifications can come with detailed messages that reference the specific service needs with respect to the customer’s make and model. This level of detail will help reinforce to the customer that the dealership knows the customer's vehicle and can clearly detail the needed service.
Team Biography & Introductions
A custom mobile app can include a section that introduces customers to the service center’s team. This section could include details on each individual’s background, experience with particular car brands and models, and any relevant certifications. This listing of the service center technicians can help reinforce to customers that the dealership employs “certified/highly qualified” technicians and “knowledgeable staff.”
Appointment Booking Functionality
After the customer is notified that they must bring their car in for service, the dealership must make it easy for them to act on this notification. With a custom mobile app, dealerships can allow customers to book a service appointment from their mobile phone in just a few easy clicks. The mobile app can be integrated with the service centers calendar so that available appointments are available in real time. This streamlined booking can be extremely helpful to car service centers. According to the previously mentioned Cox Automotive study, while only 14% of customers are aware of internet-based booking methods, 45% of customers who did not book with internet-based methods did not know they exist. Importantly, 76% of customers who booked service appointments with internet-based methods would do so again.
In-App Price Listings and Competitive Analysis
Depending on the nature of the needed service or maintenance, car dealerships can display prices for the customer’s needed services upfront. These prices can be accompanied with detailed breakdowns for each sub-service and associated labor and parts. Additionally, these price listings can show the prices for similar services from surrounding, third-party service centers. This upfront, specific price listing and display of competing firms can help dealerships combat the the customer perception that dealerships overcharge
Warranty and Service Contract Notices
When surveyed, 76% of customers partially covered under a warranty and 86% of customers partially covered under a service contract were “very satisfied” with the provided service and state that they will “always go back” to the dealership for any needed car service or maintenance. Thus, to preserve this customer loyalty, it is likely very important for car dealerships to maintain warranty and service contracts with their customers. In a custom mobile app, the dealership can notify customers of soon to expire contracts and send them special offers for contract renewal or extension.
Ability to Chat With a Service Technician
A common impetus that gets a customer in the door of the service center is a blinking light coming from the car's dashboard. Frequently, there are several blinking lights, and customer's often don't understand what these warnings or errors imply or their relative urgency. With a custom mobile app, a car dealership could allow one-on-one chat or even face-to-face video conferencing with a customer in order to provide a remote service consultation. This useful service would help build rapport between the customer and your dealership's service department, and hopefully this will translate to increased service department revenues later down the line.
Invoicing and Payment Functionality
Another useful feature for a service center's mobile app is invoicing and payment functionality. First, this would provide customer's with their own, easily accessible record of both where and how their money was spent on car servicing. Secondly, such features would provide customers with a quick and painless way to pay. The custom mobile app could accept credit and debit card payments or even integrate directly with mobile payment solutions such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.
Maintained Car Service Profiles
It's hard for a customer to remember what specific services their car received a few months ago, much less a few years ago. A service center's custom mobile app can store and display a service profile or history log of a car's past service and maintenance visits. This service profile can help keep customers feeling engaged with their car's service needs and can help keep them coming back to the dealership's service center.
A feature rich mobile app can be complemented by being part of the car sales process. At the time of closing, the responsible sales representative can introduce the customer to the service department’s mobile app. As stated in the Cox Automotive report, customers that are introduced are 2.3x more likely to use the dealership’s service department for their car, however only 41% of customers are introduced to the sales department at the time of purchasing their vehicle.
As discussed above, a custom mobile app can serve a variety of purposes for your dealership's service center. Such an app can both highlight the strengths of your car dealership's service center, and it can simultaneously help address any shortcomings. To read more about how mobile apps can be used by car dealerships, read our previous blog post on the benefits of geo-fencing technology in custom apps for car dealerships or our post on mobile-ordered test drives.
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