We have recently acquired 2 stores to add to our group and 2019 brings more adventures, strategies, and challenges. While I was sitting down and speaking with some friends, we were talking about 2019, as well as our focus and direction in which we are headed. We have all been involved in the variable operations side of things for years and we are always hearing “retention retention retention”. Well, that is a great concept, but in a slowing economy with people extending loans longer and longer due to affordability, why are we not looking at other avenues of revenue? Yes, we all know that dealerships have service departments, parts departments, detail departments, and some even have body shops. These are all revenue generating departments, but are we focusing on driving traffic to those different points?
I recently moved to North Carolina from Northeast Pennsylvania and one of the things we did to expand our fixed operations business was utilize digital billboards. We had access to swap out the billboards on the fly and this was critical while watching the weather. When we knew a storm was coming, we would put up a billboard about tires. When we were expecting a bad snowstorm which typically produced an increase in accidents, we would showcase our body shop on a billboard. We would run similar advertisements on Facebook and the whole idea was to be inside the consumer’s head, by identifying shopping patterns.
Although we don’t see snow often in North Carolina, we have many different opportunities. One of the recent strategies we utilized is free diagnostic testing at one of our rooftops. We put that offer into emails, created a website banner and promoted it on Facebook, as well. Our thought process is the more people we can put in the service drive, the more opportunities we have to sell parts, vehicles and service work. We focus so heavily on selling cars, yet often forget about selling service. We must keep in mind, that if people come back for service over and over again, we are creating a truly valuable customer.
As we implement data mining products, such as AutoAlert, we have realized conquest opportunities in our service drive. This gives us plenty of insight into how we missed their business originally and why the other dealer failed to retain them. One of the things that I am currently in the process of doing is building out a process in which all conquest customers receive a tour of the dealership. They should be introduced to the sales department, parts department and body shop. I came up with this idea as I put myself back into the consumer’s shoes and thought back to when I bought my first vehicle from a dealership. When I went to the dealer for my first service, I walked into the wrong door. The technicians ignored me and the service writer came out and yelled “you can’t be in there” to me. I thought to myself “it was dumb to put two doors next to each other and not label them.” Instead of dealing with a rude service writer, it was easier to visit Jiffy Lube.
Overall, we know that our dealerships will not survive if we don’t figure out a way to capitalize on fixed operations. I am working with our Fixed Operations Director on marketing, SEO and creating a reason for the customer to visit us. This will encompass more than just servicing a vehicle. This ensures that each of our rooftops provides an enjoyable experience, in both the showroom and the service drive, while creating raving fans. We must get in the consumer’s head, determine their shopping patterns, deliver relevant content and promote an exceptional customer experience in order to see our dealerships thrive. Whether you’re looking for growth in your variable or fixed operations, join forces and stay relevant.