“I feel like we've gotten a lot of business like customers we haven't seen in years, or new clients that maybe have moved to the area that aren't really familiar with us.”
Matt Levin, Service Manager
Classic Buick GMC Painesville
“I see more and more new customers! The reporting that they have is excellent!”Watch Ralph’s Success Story
“I’ve got more customers than we’ve had in the past, and the big thing is they are new customers.”Watch Chris’s Success Story
“Your reporting is outstanding, well above any other company I’ve ever dealt with.”Watch Bruce’s Success Story
Ron Tonkin Honda
“The RO Count, getting customers in and across the drive, has seemed to help.”Watch Dave’s Success Story
Santa Margarita Auto Group
“Since we’ve signed up with TVI we’ve seen an average of 84 cars per day (vs 64 previously).”Watch Gina’s Success Story
Mike Shaw Subaru
“TVI maximizes our ability to reach those people in and out of our area of responsibility.”Watch Jonathan’s Success Story
“I think the benefit long term is the inactive, the lost, and the customers who've never been in to our facility.”Watch Wendy’s Success Story
Sellers Subaru, Buick, GMC
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“My gross profit actually doubled from the previous manager to the year I did, and a great piece of that was because of TVI.”Watch Ken’s Success Story
“It's no longer an advertising agency... It's a relationship.”Watch Dave’s Success Story
Kearney Mesa Chevrolet
“We always have that vision as to where we need to get, and we have a plan as to what we're gonna do to get it there.”Watch Clayton ’s Success Story
“You know, once old car customers are part of the family, that's your meat and potatoes. TVI has done a great job of chasing these older cars.”Watch Cole’s Success Story
“The proof is in the reporting. The reporting shows everything, and you guys put your money where your mouth is. You guarantee a result. We see that result. And it's been absolutely fantastic! ”Watch Tony’s Success Story
John L Sullivan Chevrolet
“TVI has helped me get my arms around my marketing plan.”Watch Terry’s Success Story
“We really did kind of doubt what was being said on the way in. Could they really deliver on what they talked about? And again [TVI] more than delivered… way over our expectations!”Watch Robert’s Success Story
Tonkin Wilsonville Nissan
“It\'s helping our dealer rely less on our sales department as the service department is really picking up the slack. I have to attribute the majority of that to our strategy with TVI.”Watch Josh’s Success Story
Ron Tonkin Acura
“The experience with [TVI MarketPro3] has been one of the best vendor experiences I\'ve had in a long time.”Watch Jim’s Success Story
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Automotive eCommerce for Parts and Services
2020’s events had all industries pivoting toward a more online customer experience. Restaurants like Chick-fil-A scrambled to design a system that was equally as efficient as their current system. Department stores created ways for customers to order online and swing by the store on the same day for pickup. Even with the pandemic days behind us, many businesses continue their online customer service processes. Dealerships, however, don’t always provide the most technologically advanced solutions, particularly for Parts and Service Departments. And, let’s face it, even the most technologically challenged individuals are starting to expect these online conveniences. So, how can the automotive industry, mainly dealerships, step up in offering online sales for car parts and repairs? Imagine the Possibilities Let’s start with parts. Imagine your potential customers, just a few miles away, searching online for a rear wheel bearing for a 2006 Honda Accord. Does your dealership even cross a consumer's mind as an option to buy automotive parts online? Are they going to see your dealer’s name pop up on their search engine results page when browsing for replacement parts? The truth is auto parts stores and Amazon have cornered this online market and consume a handful of the first results pages that appear on a search. When we finally see a dealer, the site rarely compares to the online capabilities of the competition. Most have the consumer complete a contact form and wait for a call. Now, let’s imagine a search for the same part, but your dealership has a solid paid search campaign and appears as an ad at the top of the page. A customer clicks into your site, where they can easily search for the specific part they need. Your inventory is incorporated into this search so the customer can see the number of available parts. Even better, these parts can be ordered and picked up on the same day if they’re in stock. Marketing Wins In this scenario, you have created four marketing wins. The customer: knows you existis aware that you sell auto parts onlinesteps foot into your establishment to experience five-star customer serviceconsiders returning for future service or repairs And you might hit the jackpot by persuading the customer to allow your service department to replace the part they’re purchasing. Allowing customers to buy auto parts online gains you more than just a parts sale, and your eCommerce site does much of the work for you. Selling Services Online Car parts aren’t the only things automotive companies could allow customers to purchase online. Repairs and services can also be ordered and paid for from a mobile app or website. The entire process, including updates, recommendations, and service completion, can all be communicated online. Companies like U-Haul have managed to allow the customer to take the reins with the entire rental process that once required personnel on hand to execute. Now, a renter can reserve a truck and other moving necessities, pick it up, and drop it off without ever making human contact. It’s not the face-to-face contact that most customers dislike. Rather, gaining valuable time motivates people to use mobile options. The added flexibility of when a customer can drop off and pick up a vehicle is also a prime motivator. What keeps dealers from selling repairs and car parts online? TVI MarketPro3’s Nick Shaffer has an extensive Fixed Operations background and spends a lot of time with TVI’s dealer partners discussing the business. He says there are four main reasons a dealer might object to adding these online programs. Objection #1 Lacking the Proper Procedures and Personnel Converting to an online process is quite a feat. You’ve got to have the right people and procedures in place to execute this transition. Once these systems are in place, you still need the right team to continue best practices for these programs. Dealers often struggle to find reliable employees, so adding new systems is not a top priority compared to acquiring and training talent. Objection #2 Cost to Purchase and Implement Programs These technologies are not cheap, and converting an in-person system into an online option often requires paying extra for developer support and training. It can be difficult for dealers to see the return on such an investment. Objection #3 Underwhelming Margins Traditionally online parts retailers sell their wares at a leaner margin and focus on a volume-based business model. Dealers who are unfamiliar with this business model and how to scale it are typically off-put by the gross profit % compared to their typical retail expectations. Objection #4 Integration Headaches Shaffer says, “until recently, only third-party companies had these kinds of tools, and each company specialized in one aspect of the process. So, a dealership would have a vendor for online scheduling, another for electronic MPI, and another for text message communication to the client.” Every vendor is charged an access fee to the dealership DMS system, which they then pass along to the dealer, and these fees can add up. Shaffer points out that some DMS systems are “famously difficult to integrate, which causes frequent IT issues and functionality breakdown.” Conclusion These objections are all valid reasons for dealerships to keep everything as the status quo. However, buying online is the preferred shopping experience for most consumers these days. Dealership parts and service departments should wade into the automotive eCommerce market shifting their business models to attract online customers. Doing so will expand their customer base helping them stand out among neighborhood auto repair shops and stand-alone parts stores. Check out TVI MarketPro3 for more automotive insights.
Oct 31, 2022 | 4 minute read
Anatomy of an Automotive Website: A Head-to-Toe Examination
Oct 26, 2022 | 3 minute read
Conversion Rate Optimization for Automotive Websites
Websites are a vital tool in attracting and growing a customer base. When done well, they make a great first impression, grab the attention of potential customers, and guide them to take action. Conversely, a poorly designed website can have web users bounding away from a business before they even click or scroll to another part of the site. Overall, car dealerships tend to miss the mark when it comes to building a website that people will land on and stay on. More importantly, these websites often fail to turn a user into a paying customer. That’s right: they fail to convert. There are a number of areas that automotive leaders can simply tweak, or in some cases, completely overhaul to pack the intended punch and optimize their website’s conversion rate. These changes can be time-consuming, but worth the effort once they yield results. For the automotive industry, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is when a website is designed to effectively increase the frequency of converting a website lead into a car sale or repair order. For all businesses (including automotive), an eCommerce website will be among the first few, if not all, interactions with potential customers. A dealership must assume the entire customer journey will be online. This virtual experience should be just as good as if they walked onto the sales lot or pulled into the service drive. While optimizing a website can seem like a daunting task, it really comes down to three core goals: Get customers thereKeep them therePersuade them to take action Get Customers There Getting more traffic to a website requires a multifaceted approach, starting with a strong digital marketing strategy. Digital marketing starts with meeting your potential customers where they are through email marketing or social media and drawing them to your website. This can also be accomplished through a strong paid search campaign, as well as ensuring your website is optimized for search engines. So many people are ordering car parts online, which makes auto parts marketing an ideal way to draw consumers to your website. Keep Them There Once people arrive at your website, you want to be sure they stay there long enough to get to know your business, and more importantly, take action that gets them one step closer to becoming a customer. There are many factors that can help your website to be more inviting. TVI MarketPro3’s paid search professional, Ian Favre, says the first priority is to avoid leaks. Favre points out that dealerships spend tons of money driving people to their websites, and too often they provide links to other websites like tire stores, parts stores, or the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Favre says dealerships “spend all this money getting people to a website, only to give them a link to immediately leave.” Dealerships must keep people on their site. To do so, the website should be clean, clear, and easy to navigate. It should be directly related to the search that attracted the user in the first place. If customers have to do too much work to get what they want, they’ll quickly leave your site looking for a more instant solution to their problem. Persuade Them To Take Action Favre recommends setting clear expectations with customers on your website: “What can a client expect? Who is going to follow up? How long is the follow-up going to take?” By answering these questions clearly and concisely from the jump, a customer is more likely to answer your website’s calls to action (CTAs). If your CTAs are effective, you have a much greater chance of converting. It’s all about user experience (UX). Undoubtedly, websites need good, quality content, but you need to keep that content under control so your website is simple and easy to use. That’s why landing pages are often used for specific services. It allows the user to get exactly what they came for without distraction from the rest of the website. Customizing individual contact forms on dealer websites is effective, yet so rarely done. Too often, dealer websites simply use a default form. Dealers should set expectations by instructing users when filling out the form. This is a chance to provide a “why buy” message to explain why they should do business here. Why fill out the form? It's imperative for all profit centers of the business to be represented creating an identity or impression with the consumer. Here are some important factors Favre says dealers should keep in mind to optimize conversion rates: Know what specific service topics are bringing search traffic to your website and create content/landing pages to support them.Make sure content pages have clear calls to action and multiple ways to submit a lead. Leads can include a phone number, a form, or a chat.Make sure amenities are easily findable on your site.Provide high-quality pictures and videos to show them different areas of the dealership, such as the waiting area.Include a service menu with pricing. Price transparency is important to the consumer.Ensure the service offers are valid and up to date on the site.Personalize the content to the dealership. Most dealerships simply use the default content that came with the website.Share Google Reviews and other positive testimonies on your website. Measuring Your Conversion Rate In order to reach success, you must be able to measure your conversion rate. Google Analytics is the place to start. Conversion rates are calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of total ad interactions. Interactions must be tracked to a conversion during the same time period to count. A good conversion rate lands between 2 and 5 percent according to Google. Ruler Analytics found that the automotive industry has an average conversion rate of 2 percent. Needless to say, there is room for improvement.
Jul 18, 2022 | 5 minute read
Does Your Used Car Reconditioning Time Measure Up?
Car dealers face an unprecedented demand for vehicles, changing the automotive industry for at least the foreseeable future. Business Insider reports that the devastating shortage of microchips is slowing car production worldwide. The lack of new models is driving prices up. These high new car prices have created a great demand for pre-owned vehicles. This demand has forced dealerships to pivot in some areas and improve efficiencies in others. One area dealerships are working to improve is the time it takes to get a used car ready for resale. How long is your used vehicle reconditioning time? A fixed ops leader posed this question on LinkedIn, sparking various responses from other industry professionals. The general consensus was that used car recon generally takes three days. However, some fixed ops leaders stated that, in some months, it might take a little longer depending on circumstances. Others claimed a 24-hour or less turnaround time. Undoubtedly, multiple answers mean there must be multiple ways of handling car recon. There are many variables that impact a dealer’s ability to get a used vehicle ready for the market. Challenges that prevent quick turnaround times for reconditioning One hurdle to completing reconditioning work in a timely manner is getting the necessary parts. Without a doubt, the labor shortage has impacted most industries, and the automotive industry is no exception. Finding good techs is an ongoing challenge for service leaders but more so since the pandemic. Furthermore, manufacturers sublet recall repairs to dealers which often causes backups in service departments in addition to everyday repairs. The backups can cause reconditioning services to stall. The hold-up creates tension between fixed ops leaders and variable ops leaders. With any business, communication is vital to successful processes. Many dealership leaders comment that inefficient systems and lack of communication between departments are major hurdles in reconditioning a vehicle. Impact of long recon times The adage goes “time is money.” The longer reconditioning time takes, the more customers will leave the lot without test driving that vehicle. As you can imagine, this really takes a dig at the potential income for the dealership. Dealership decision-makers must put systems in action that help sales and service teams smoothly execute the reconditioning process. Quick turnaround on used vehicle recon benefits both the sales and service departments. Solutions to speed up the process Some dealerships commingle reconditioning work with customer pay and warranty work, while others have teams or individuals dedicated to car reconditioning. Fixed Ops professional Nick Shaffer says “it would be wise to remove reconditioning from those teammates who process your customers' cars. Their pay plan is likely focused on CSI or Customer Pay Sales which disincentivizes them from giving priority to used cars.” Shaffer also points out that “sometimes the biggest bottleneck for the used car reconditioning turn time is the parts department.” He recommends incentivizing all teammates who touch used cars on used car turn time, including the parts back counter. For more automotive industry articles and insights, visit TVI MarketPro3.
May 4, 2022 | 3 minute read
2022 ECONOMY AND FIXED OPS (PART 4)- CAR SALES TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT TO FIXED OPS
We're wrapping up our series with a look at the decrease in car sales and how this has impacted the fixed ops departments over the past two years. TVI MarketPro3's Eric Hawkes gives his thoughts. QUESTION: What has been the status of new cars sales over 2021-2022? ANSWER: Two major factors and they’re somewhat intertwined, but the Covid Pandemic has created a loss in the labor force with manufacturing, be it in Japan or be it in the United States that’s tempered the pace in which the cars are produced. The other item is the chip, the chip crisis, the chip shortage. Cars are ¾ of the way completed on the assembly line, but they need the chip to finish through, so they have to park them to the side, and neither one of those, I don’t believe we’re going to see a difference in 2022. I’m not an expert on the pandemic, but it seems to be with us for a while now, maybe different strands, maybe not as potent, but either way, it’s going to disrupt the workforce just the way it has in the construction business, the service business, restaurants, hotels. And then to compounded with that, you have a lack of chips, so what has occurred is a lack of sales in total volume, but what cars are available, be it used or new, they’re capturing a very high premium. So, dealerships are actually making more money through this craziness ironically. They’re making more money per car being sold be it new or used, and people are shying away from buying as the inventory is not there, and the cost factor is increasing, people are shying away from buying new and used cars which then goes to the service industry. It’s quality of sale over quantity. Is this decreasing the number of sales reps? I don’t think so. I think that might just be natural attrition if it is happening. But remember, salespeople in the service world and the sales world are typically on commission, so it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money to have more employees or the same amount of employees they had before with the exception of hourly employees be it the valets. The office may not need as many people for support because there may not be as many car deals, so there might be a little bit of hit there. QUESTION: How is the current state of the economy affecting these issues? ANSWER: The auto industry is a great economic indicator just like first-time home purchases, just like other indicators out there. The automobile groups and manufacturers are not immune to inflation. Parts go up because materials are more expensive. Labor goes up because there’s less people, so it’s just causing an increase in cost and an increase at the end of the day in what you’re going to pay for your car. QUESTION: List some occurrences in 2021-2022 and their cause/effect relationship to car sales issues. ANSWER: I think what you see again is that used car prices are up an average of 35% from the prior years. New cars, I believe it’s about 16% to 18% for the same vehicle. The inflation and the economy have caused this. So again, what it’s helped ironically is the dealership groups and the dealership owners to increase their profitability. The other side of that is it’s causing a lot of customers that were thinking in their third or fourth or fifth year of their car to upgrade and get another car, ah maybe not. Let’s get those brakes, let’s get those tires, let’s reset our car. Yeah, it might be a thousand or two thousand dollars, but I own that car now. Looking at the price increases and looking at the value of what they have has changed a lot. You know, three years ago, leases were very popular, just lease a car for three years, buying a car every three years, getting a new car. It was almost a self-sustaining business, and this has a kink in it, but again, the irony of it is there’s a lot of money being made. Back to the service end, a lot of customers are opting to keep their cars and put money into them. One side is if I sell it, a used car, I can make good money on it, but then what do they do for transportation? QUESTION: Did you ever face similar issues in your time as an automotive leader? ANSWER: No, not similar, but there’s been some major impacts. Let’s go back to the 1970s when I was a little wee tike, we had gas lines. There was an odd day you could get gas if you were a license plate ending in an odd number, you could go on those days. If it was an even, you had to go on the other days. There were lines half a mile, a mile long that you waited. Some people ran out of gas waiting in line for their turn at the pump. Well, that was a major shift from taking the large domestic cars to trying to make them economical. And then as that was happening, Japan swooped right in as they were trying to get entry into the United States. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, they had cars that were 25-35 miles to the gallon. Unheard of and the American V8, we’re going to get you there with power and speed. That definitely changed the dynamics of the auto world. Go back a little further, World War II. There was such a shortage of natural resources like rubber and metal that weren’t available t produce cars, and those people that were available to produce were more likely to produce airplanes, engines, tanks, and equipment necessary for the war. So, it is kind of neat to look at the big picture and see some of the disturbances in the business cycle of the automotive world. QUESTION: What effect have these sales issues had on fixed ops? ANSWER: Initially, when Covid hit, everything just stopped, but automobile dealerships were still open because they were considered a necessity. I’m not sure about that because if you can’t drive to work, and you can’t drive anywhere, what type of necessity was it? When you look back and think back to when Covid really hit at the end of March and the beginning of April, it was catastrophic. Everybody just stopped what they were doing and said I’m not doing it. I’m not going to work. I’m not touching anybody. I’m not seeing anybody. But most of the states considered automobile dealerships, particularly service departments, essential. And so they stayed open, but the fixed ops business, parts, and service, certainly took a hit because the people, even though dealerships were open, were not opting to go in. And that was pretty much the end of March, April, and May. Not that the pandemic changed or got better, but June and July I saw what I coin as basically Covid revenge. People had enough. They had to get out of the house. They wanted to get their cars fixed. There were recalls that needed to be done. They needed brakes. They needed oil changes, so it flooded the market. So you have that over the course of the next year and a half coming in compounded with the people that aren’t buying new cars and aren’t buying used cars. They’re servicing their car, so we’re finding quite a bit of dealerships service departments booming right now during the pandemic which is sometimes counterintuitive. You wouldn’t think it would happen, but it is, and that’s good again for the dealerships to maintain their strength and we need that. We need restaurants and automotive dealerships, and construction workers to be out there working and making money because when our technicians get their check, they may go out to dinner with their family. But when Covid first hit, they weren’t going out to dinner A – because of Covid & B – because they didn’t have any money. They had to figure this out. There’s been a lot of issues that have come from the fear of Covid and getting around the pent-up need for service and recalls that are coming out. And again, the chip shortage is just dragging the new car sales down, but fortunately, knock wood, the dealers can make money on the profit side of it. QUESTION: With the fixed ops side booming at this point, are the other challenges that aren’t income-related? ANSWER: There’s no doubt that the… probably the number one challenge that our service departments and dealerships are experiencing is a labor shortage. There seems to be a lack of people in the pipeline coming through that want to do this as a profession. What do they want to do? Cyber security, computers, I don’t know. But if there was one greatest issue right now that is staring us in the face in the fixed ops is shortage of labor. Technicians, parts counter men, service advisors. It’s hard work. It’s long hours. It’s very similar to being in the restaurant business, the hotel business, long hours, lot of upset and angry people because they’ve got Covid, or their family’s got Covid, and their government is telling them what to do or how to do it. All these pent-up frustrations, and they’re quite often thrown out at the people that are trying to help them in the service department, in the restaurant, and a lot of people are saying “not going to do it.” So, some of the dealers are getting creative in finding technicians, taking some people from maybe the HVAC world, taking electricians, and trying to encourage them to come into the auto dealerships. It goes back to the almighty dollar. There’s a lot of dealerships stepping it up and saying we’re going to pay what I find to be astronomic wages, but they’re in a crunch situation, and they say of we’re going to do it, we’ve got to go, and we’re going to go hard and try and get ourselves situated. Which is kind of like the NBA, and the NFL where there’s a little bit of a bidding war on this type of labor that increases the cost for everybody. QUESTION: What are some suggestions you would give to a fixed ops leader that is trying to overcome and/or capitalize on these issues? ANSWER: Just remember always, we are in the customer service business, and we happen to work on cars. We’re dealing with someone whose pet may have died before they came in or whose son just graduated from MIT and they’re the happiest people in the world. You never know what’s happening with your customers, so while we’re the experts on the cars, we can’t assume they are, and we need to respect their peace, their place, respect the fact that they’re coming in and trying to hand us money. So just sometimes take a step back in respecting the owners that are taking risks every day that they could go out of business particularly when Covid just hit. The customers that are coming in, and that you’re making a paycheck. You’re making good money. I think that’s paramount with what we have not just in our industry, but in all industries. Just taking a step back and appreciating what we have. RELATED ARTICLES: 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 1) - SUPPLY SHORTAGE ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 2) - LABOR ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 3) - INVENTORY ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 4) - CAR SALES TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT TO FIXED OPS
Apr 22, 2022 | 9 minute read
2022 ECONOMY AND FIXED OPS (PART 3) - INVENTORY ISSUES
We continue our series with Robert Morris, a TVI MarketPro3 agent that’s been in the automotive industry for more than three decades. Morris was the Dealer Principal for Morris Cadillac Buick GMC before joining TVI. Inventory issues have a trickle-down effect all the way to the service department. Morris explains how some of this has had both a positive and, in some ways, a negative impact on fixed ops. Check out what Morris had to say on the matter. QUESTION: What are some of the major inventory issues fixed ops leaders have faced over the past two years? ANSWER: Over the past few years, there have been numerous challenges faced by fixed ops directors as well as entire dealerships, and that all stems from the inventory shortage. And the inventory shortage is creating a cascading effect in the service department, and what I mean by that is obviously there are much fewer new vehicles on the lot. That means there are fewer vehicles coming in which means there are fewer vehicles to do a pre-delivery inspection or PDI on. So, that adversely affects revenue in the service department. Then as fewer new cars come in and become available, there are fewer trade-ins. So, the used car department also suffers, and that affects service because there are not as many vehicles to perform reconditioning on. And then lastly, and this is more tangentially related really, but there are no courtesy cars. So in terms of a service department, not having courtesy cars, or loaner cars, available to cover the customers, this exacerbates the problem and results in a lot of dissatisfied customers. Now granted, some customers obviously understand the situation, but other customers, it’s a legitimate problem trying to get work done on their car when they can’t get another one to use in the meantime. QUESTION: How is the current state of the economy affecting these issues? ANSWER: Well, the inventory issues obviously fall in line because of the economy. And the economy right now is red hot. I’m not an economist, it’s not for me to say why it’s red hot, but at the end of the day, it is. Customers are demanding more and more new vehicles, and when they can’t find those, they’re buying late-model used vehicles. So there’s a cascading effect in terms of the pricing. New vehicles become more and more expensive with less and fewer rebates offered by the manufacturer. That in turn, drives up the price of used cars, so as long as the consumer demand remains this hot, the manufacturers have a hard time keeping pace. So what happens is a dealer may have 40 cars on the ground when they would normally have 200. They get another 50 cars in, so they sell 90 for the month, and at the end of the day, they still have 40 cars in stock when the month is over. So, it’s a challenge. Without inventory growing on the lot, things are going to remain like this for a while. QUESTION: List some occurrences in 2022 and their cause/effect relationship to inventory levels. ANSWER: The entire inventory issue right now is created from the pandemic. In the early days of the pandemic with cities and economies and businesses shutting down, so to speak, and everybody working from home, that drove the demand for items like personal computers, new cell phones, all the technical aspects that people have brought home over the last year and a half. At the same time, automobile manufacturers, not knowing what was going to happen as everybody was sequestered at home, cut way back on the chips that they ordered for their production. Vehicles today require more than one computer chip in order to make everything work with the state of the technology that’s in the new vehicle. So, when the manufacturer scaled back their orders and canceled orders, the other industries like computers, cell phones, televisions, whatever the case, increased their orders which created a chip shortage for automobile manufacturers. And it’s affected other industries as well. But really within the last 12 months is when the auto industry has felt that pinch. Until the manufacturing catches up with the demand, it’s going to stay like that, and the problem was made worse because I believe there was a manufacturing facility in Asia that had a fire and burned down some of their capacity in terms of being able to manufacture the chips, so it’s kind of hit with a double whammy. QUESTION: Did you ever face similar issues in your time as an automotive leader? ANSWER: I’ve been in the automobile industry for over 30 years. I’ve seen strikes by manufacturers, GM strikes. I’ve been through manufacturer bankruptcies. I thought I had seen it all up until the last year and a half. I know when we had vehicle manufacturing strikes, inventory was depleted, and we spaced the cars out further. Instead of having all the cars in a row, we’d space cars out 10-15 apart. But when you only have 10 or 20 new vehicles in stock right now, you can’t space them out a hundred feet between each car and make the car lot look full. There’s no way you can do that. So no, I’ve not seen anything like this in my 30 plus years in the automobile industry. It’s absolutely crazy! QUESTION: Are dealerships making more money now than they were prior to the inventory shortage? ANSWER: Oh yeah! They’re making tons of money. QUESTION: Do you think they’ll be eager to get back to the days of greater inventory? ANSWER: No, personally I don’t. Dealership profit levels for the last year and a half are at record levels because the margins now are so good. When you have a new vehicle that’s selling for $5-$10 thousand over list price compared to it being sold at $3, $4, or $5 grand below list price before. One vehicle sale now is making up for 4 or 5 vehicle sales in the old dynamic. Dealers aren’t going to be anxious to return to it. The real question is going to be, at what point do the manufacturers adjust their manufacturing capacity because right now the manufacturers are pretty happy with it also. Their incentive spend is down dramatically. I guarantee you right now that manufacturers, they’re trying to figure out the sweet spot between having more cars than we do today, but also not having inventory issues as we’ve had in the past where it's an inventory pressure sale and giving away more, and everybody is being too aggressive with their pricing. QUESTION: What is the direct effect inventory issues are having on Fixed Ops? ANSWER: All these inventory issues, and it’s not inventory pressure in the historical sense when there are simply too many cars on the ground. Now it’s not enough cars on the ground, so what happens is that the dealership service department loses PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) income, and when the new vehicle comes in from the manufacturer, it goes through service to make sure it’s ready to sell before it’s put on the lot. Now there are much fewer of those, and adversely, used car sales are down. So right now, given the inventory pressures since there are so few new cars available, and they’re commanding a premium, and late-model used cars are almost as expensive as they were when they were brand new (which I’ve never seen before, many customers are opting to repair their car. So, that creates a huge opportunity for service departments whereas a customer has an older car that needs a transmission or needs an engine or needs a substantial amount of work. A lot of times now that customer is opting to get the work done because either there’s no car that they could buy that they would like, or the premium for the new car is so much more expensive that fixing the old one right now just makes sense. So, that creates a huge opportunity, but again fixed operations directors and service managers have to use every opportunity they get that comes through that service drive right now, whether it’s effective labor rate or hours per RO. There are fewer built-in revenue streams from the service department in terms of PDI and used car recon, so now they have to make it up from the consumer, and not waste any opportunity or any at-bats that come through the lane. And that’s where TVI MarketPro3 comes into play because we bring you those at-bats and bring you those customers that you haven’t seen before. RELATED ARTICLES: 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 1) - SUPPLY SHORTAGE ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 2) - LABOR ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 3) - INVENTORY ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 4) - CAR SALES TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT TO FIXED OPS
Apr 22, 2022 | 7 minute read
2022 ECONOMY AND FIXED OPS (PART 2)- LABOR ISSUES
Moving on to part two, we'll take a close look at another area that has been greatly impacted in the 2022 economy, the ability (or lack thereof) to find technicians for service departments. TVI MarketPro3's Nick Shaffer has nearly twenty years in fixed ops working in a variety of leadership positions. Here's his take on the labor issues dealerships are currently facing. QUESTION: How is the current state of the economy affecting labor issues in fixed ops? ANSWER: Unemployment benefits offered during COVID enticed entry-level employees to not work. Every hiring manager I spoke to in the last 18 months reported a high no-show rate for job interviews. Their assumption was that candidates were doing whatever they needed to appear to be looking for work to keep their unemployment benefits going. Those benefits are now gradually getting pulled back, but there isn’t an immediate surge of unemployed folks reentering the job market. Perhaps due to the high cost of fuel? QUESTION: Are dealers putting innovations in place to entice new team members? ANSWER: For stores that are having trouble getting their folks back to work, that were previous employees, yes. But, when we’re talking about someone who’s trying to hire a new candidate, there’s no real equivalent to that other than big signing bonuses. And I do have lots of dealers that are offering signing bonuses, and very few of them are reporting that it’s providing the motivation that they’re looking for. The dealers that I’ve spoken to, that are having success hiring new candidates, are really focusing more on the benefits than the signing bonuses or the wages. So, they’re focusing on things like PTO offered on day one rather than after ninety days, health benefits offered on day one rather than after ninety days, a three-day workweek rather than a five-day workweek, eight-hour days instead of ten-hour days. So, my dealers that are really focusing on offering good life-work balance and benefits seem to be having better success hiring people than my dealers that aren’t offering that, but instead, are focusing on big signing bonuses and big wages. QUESTION: What are some of the major labor issues fixed ops leaders have faced over the past two years? ANSWER: Entry-level employees are scarce. COVID took the national technician shortage from bad to worse. Unemployment benefits have enticed many entry-level technicians to stay home. To keep up with business demands, many dealerships are giving their technicians raises to incentivize them to stay. This becomes a double whammy on the dealership's cost of doing business because the techs that stay are getting raises, and the entry-level tech headcount is depleting. Many service departments get top-heavy in the shop. To keep the gross profit margins, dealerships are raising their labor rates, and the increased operating cost is passed along to the customer. Every service manager in this situation has ongoing hiring efforts, but I have yet to speak to someone who has figured out a reliable way to hire entry-level techs at will. Fixed ops leaders are also facing parts supply issues which are a labor issue in some instances. There are shortages of drivers, dock workers, parts distribution center workers which all contribute to parts availability delays. QUESTION: List some occurrences in 2021-2022 and their relationship to labor shortages. ANSWER: The demand for automotive service and therefore technicians has changed a lot in the last two years. I already spoke about the shortage, so now I’ll speak to the demand. Throughout 2020, many office workers were afforded the ability to work from home. At various stages, they’ve largely returned to the office and resumed a somewhat normal driving pattern which created a huge pent-up demand for light-duty maintenance in the summer of 2021. Dealers who were staffed appropriately set records while dealers who were not staffed properly over-promised and under-delivered which is creating a long-lasting ripple effect with client attrition. Meanwhile, blue-collar workers never broke stride. There’s no such thing as ZOOM to a bricklayer or landscaper. As a matter of fact, the demand for their skilled labor increased. As some of the white-collar workers clocked in from home, they became more motivated to act upon home improvement projects that they’d been previously neglecting. This created a surge of business for contractors of all sorts. In turn, the demand to service their domestic trucks increased. Ford, GM, and CDJR dealers who were staffed appropriately are enjoying this business. The low supply of new cars is making both new and preowned cars more costly than we are used to. As a result, people are keeping their current cars longer and investing in them. What a great customer pay opportunity for dealers! Every dealer should be considering how to better market themselves to the older model year cars in their market. Quick side note, during the recent covid surge in December 2021 and Jan 2022, dealers are reporting a much larger than the average no-show rate for service appointments. QUESTION: Did you ever face similar issues in your time as a fixed ops leader? ANSWER: There was a tech labor shortage when I was a manager. There were very few entry-level techs on the market. Master technicians worth hiring were being well cared for by their current employer, so most of the master techs on the job market were coming in with bad habits and negative attitudes. These conditions that I faced are still an issue today. The difference now versus then is that now we have additional conditions which are enticing lower-wage workers to stay home. QUESTION: Are Apprenticeships Effective? ANSWER: I think if you had a hundred dealers, a hundred service managers, in a room for a meeting and asked them to raise their hand and asked them how many of you have an apprenticeship program, ninety-five out of a hundred if not more would raise their hand and say, “I have an apprenticeship program.” But that’s a very subjective thing. An apprenticeship program is going to mean something different to each service manager. To many service managers, an apprenticeship program is nothing more sophisticated than, “I hire entry-level technicians. I give them online classes to complete, and I hold them accountable to do so. And somewhere we have a roaming shop foreman that will help them and train them if they raise their hand and say they need help, and that’s not, in my opinion, a real apprenticeship program. A real apprenticeship program needs ongoing education, both virtual and hands-on. I’ve seen dealers have success with team systems where each dealership has several technician teams, and those tech teams usually are 4, 5, or 6 technicians, two entry-level, two mid-level, and one master, and that master is responsible for the ongoing training of everybody who is on his team. And that shows entry-level technicians not only the hands-on learning that they need, but it also shows that there’s a career path. It's not that there are forty techs in the shop with one shop foreman, it’s that there are five teams in the shop. Every team has one shop foreman, and there are several levels I can work to achieve between here and there. So, for there to be a real apprenticeship, there needs to be ongoing classroom training, ongoing virtual, ongoing hands-on, and a career path. QUESTION: What are some suggestions you would give to a fixed ops leader that is trying to build his or her team and prevent turnover? ANSWER: Have an awareness that this pandemic afforded some of your staff to stay home for a bit. This is happening in an ongoing manner if someone gets exposed or becomes symptomatic. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, a rolling stone gathers no moss, then you’ll understand that it’s entirely normal for someone to return to work with a diminished energy level. They’ve been sitting around for a week or two not doing much and this takes a toll on most people’s energy and focus. Consider making a big deal about it when someone comes back to work. Celebrate their return with the team. If they are in a performance role, consider a “fast start” bonus to incentivize them to get back to 100% of their normal production right out of the gate. This will help them feel welcomed and help them refocus. Keep a pulse on what your competitors are paying and be willing to compete. Don’t wait for your employees to ask for a raise or worse yet give you notice to leave for a better offer. If you find that the market wage is above your staff wage, give your staff a raise. Find a way to do so while rewarding job performance and tenure. Raise your prices to afford this if you need to. Shop your competition to find out what they charge for common services, and make sure you don’t price yourself out of the market. Most manufacturers allow you to submit for a warranty labor rate increase every year. Engage in this process and understand how to maximize the outcome. There’s more to staff retention than good wages. Engage your team in regular one-on-ones. Your staff wants to be led. They want to know if they are doing a good job or not. They want to know they are working towards something. They want to know you care. They want to be a part of a team, so host team-building activities regularly and publicly recognize teammates with high performance. Recognize birthdays and work anniversaries. Keep a pulse on what job benefits your competitors are offering; many businesses now offer PTO starting at day 1. Other common benefits include health benefits after 30 days, which used to be 90. 4-day work weeks. Unlimited time off. When it comes to hiring staff, realize that there is more demand for staff than supply. So, think of ways to differentiate yourself. Wage, schedule, benefits, and culture are all important. Consider developing a deep and meaningful relationship with your local trade schools. Offer to serve on their board and give input on curriculum development. Arrange to speak to their student body on a schedule – at least quarterly. Attend their job fairs, or better yet, offer to host their job fairs at your store. When you retire a piece of equipment like a brake lathe or tire balancer, don’t take the Hunter trade-in value. Instead, donate it to the school. RELATED ARTICLES: 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 1) - SUPPLY SHORTAGE ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 2) - LABOR ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 3) - INVENTORY ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 4) - CAR SALES TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT TO FIXED OPS
Apr 22, 2022 | 8 minute read
2022 ECONOMY AND FIXED OPS (PART 1) - SUPPLY SHORTAGE ISSUES
The supply shortage has a direct and indirect effect on fixed operations. From vehicle inventory to supply chain issues, fixed ops directors are seeing challenges in the service departments like never before. Ken Pletcher, TVI MarketPro3 Agent and long-time fixed ops professional, explains his observations and experiences with the current and past supply shortages. QUESTION: What are some of the supply shortage issues over 2021-2022? ANSWER: There were quite a few different ones that were along the time. There were wire harnesses that weren’t available for vehicles, different plastic pieces, glass, windshields were really a challenge. But probably the biggest one that affected us was the microchips, and again that’s for new car sales, but that’s it’s going to be affecting the service departments as well. QUESTION: How is the current state of the economy affecting these issues? ANSWER: It’s definitely driving up the prices for the new and used cars due to low inventory. It’s caused a delay in replacement parts and service departments, so it’s caused a lot of challenges just trying to do day-to-day business in a dealership. QUESTION: List some occurrences in 2021-2022 and their cause/effect relationship to supply shortage issues. ANSWER: Delays in having repair work done… parts can be an issue. Manufacturers are running out of specific parts. You might have to go to an after-market vendor or even wrecking yards to find a part to get a repair performed. QUESTION: Did you ever face similar issues in your time as an automotive leader? ANSWER: Yes, I certainly did. I had to be inventive to find parts, and we went as far as checking inventories in other dealerships out of state to see if they might have something, some one-off part that the manufacturer didn’t have. And then [we] worked with that dealership to get it shipped out. As I mentioned possibly aftermarket parts, possibly even rebuilding or resealing a specific part. It could be a power steering pump whose seal is bad. Normally you would replace the whole pump. It may not be available, so the seal might be available. And as I mentioned too, possibly going to wrecking yards for like a control arm or something like that that needs to be replaced as well. Those issues have come up in the past, but not as strong as they have in the 2021-2020 time frame. QUESTION: What are some suggestions you would give to a fixed ops leader that is trying to overcome these issues? ANSWER: Think outside the box when a part is necessary for repair. If it’s not available as new, can it be rebuilt? Aftermarket parts, or check with wrecking yards or with other dealerships in the area. What else can you do? It might even be something along the lines of letting the guest know, “hey there’s no part available right now. It’s not a safety concern. We can call you when the part comes in. Have the customer come back in as well. QUESTION: What effect have these supply shortage issues had on fixed ops? ANSWER: In 2021, due to the chip shortage, new vehicle availability was really low, and so, even though most dealerships did pretty well with it, the count was nowhere near what they were supposed to do, and that’s been more so the last half od 2021. 2022 January, the sales are down 9.8% compared to January of ’21, so you can see the trend is still going down. What that’s going to mean to us is there are going to be fewer cars in our dealerships in the next few years because of sales being down. Right now, it’s very important for dealerships to really work on their retention and work on VINs that have not been in their store before because if they can start grabbing those now as things start trickling down, it’ll help their business be a stronger model a year or two from now. For the VINs that have not been there because for someone who is looking for a specific Honda or a specific Chevy that’s not at their local dealership, they might actually purchase it from a surrounding dealer that might have that specific color. At that point, that service department will not know that that vehicle is serviceable in their area because they bought it outside of their PMA, so it’s really important to grab those vehicles that have not been in their store because they might have been purchased outside because of availability. I know because of the pandemic, people are driving less, so their driving habits across the board have really changed in the last two years. That prolongs it, and at that point, you have an opportunity to someone possibly leaving a dealership that might have been loyal just because of the time frame, and it’s not forefront in their mind to service at the dealership. RELATED ARTICLES: 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 1) - SUPPLY SHORTAGE ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 2) - LABOR ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 3) - INVENTORY ISSUES 2022 ECONOMY AND THE EFFECT ON FIXED OPS (PART 4) - CAR SALES TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT TO FIXED OPS
Apr 22, 2022 | 4 minute read
A New Year Boost for Fixed Ops Marketing
Many dealerships have already squared away their marketing budgets for 2022, but are your fixed ops marketing strategies where they need to be to kick off the new year? It is easy for dealers to take a broad approach to promote the entire business as a whole. But you cannot stop there as dealerships are essentially two businesses under one umbrella, encompassing the brand reputation. The umbrella can reinforce that customers will receive the utmost professionalism and top-notch service from everything under it, but each part of the dealership needs its own identity. Car dealership service centers should be targeting a specific audience to keep the service bays full, and service marketing should cover multiple avenues of marketing, including digital and traditional marketing, to get the most out of the marketing dollars. Digital Marketing Digital marketing covers such a broad spectrum of tools and platforms that it can be overwhelming to know where to start, but all are equally important. Use as many platforms as possible to ensure you get in front of consumers in the new year. Email Marketing Customers have entrusted you with their emails, so handle these with care. Targeted emails are a great way to reach your current customers, but each email should be valuable to the recipient. Sending blanket emails to wish everyone a happy new year is a feel-good email that keeps your brand in front of your audience but does not require them to do anything except enjoy the sentiment. However, blanket emails that flood their inbox will have the opposite impact and likely do more harm than good. Your customers reach for the unsubscribe button before you can say oil change. But there is a balance, and when you target the specific year, make, and model for your customer's vehicle, and the services it might need, you will have a more willing participant on the receiving end of that email. Social Media Get active on social media, starting with welcoming the New Year on all of your platforms. Yes, you should use multiple social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Your branding should be the same across each of these platforms, but messaging should be catered to each one. In other words, find ways to stylize your posts to fit each. Facebook leaves more room for elaborate posts to tell a story and includes imagery. Instagram starts with imagery as the primary storyteller, but it does leave a little room for comments to compliment the picture or video. Social media is also a great way to educate customers with video marketing and timelines for maintenance and services. You do not need professionally shot videos to have a professional impact. However, they do need to be visually attractive and include valuable content. Paid Search When looking for car repair parts and services online, customers type in a specific set of keywords. Paid search allows you to use these keywords in online advertisements to put your dealership at the top of the search engine results pages. While this requires a specialist that knows how to execute this type of marketing, it is a tool you will need to extend your marketing reach. Traditional Marketing While digital is often the go-to marketing option, do not forget to take a traditional approach. Sending a little Happy New Year postcard with irresistible coupon savings on parts and services is a great way to make a good impression. After all, many people put off much-needed services over the holidays, promising themselves they will get to it in the new year. What better way to remind them than a postcard or letter in the mail? Mailers can include coupons with discounts on parts like tires and wiper blades, or they can remind people about the launch of new service specials. Either way, a small note may be just the reminder needed to lure them into your service drive. Optimizing your website All marketing efforts, digital or traditional, should link to your website. Your landing pages should represent your service department as much as it does your sales department. You also want to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to strengthen your organic search results. Encourage customer reviews Ask your existing service customers to review your dealership on social media as well as Google. Customer-based reviews instill confidence when a consumer is trying to narrow down their options for service. They want to know a dealership has reliable products and excellent services before making their appointments. Conclusion When you plan your marketing for the service department, use all available avenues to reach your customers. If you put all your efforts into just one platform or channel, you will miss your target audience. More importantly, you will leave a wide gap for your competitors. You can accomplish some of this in-house, but it never hurts to see how a marketing partner like TVI MarketPro3 can help.
Dec 29, 2021 | 4 minute read
Automotive Marketing Company: Choosing the right one
Let’s face it, marketing in its most successful form is a full-time job. Business leaders must determine their preferred marketing solutions and then find the best way to implement them. With so much competition in the automotive industry, how do dealership leaders reach current and potential customers when it’s their full-time job to serve the customers at the dealership. So, what’s the solution? Every dealership should have a designated in-house marketing team. Or, better yet, they should employ an outside partner that will focus on bringing in new customers and keeping current customers returning. But even interviewing and partnering with an ad agency or marketing firm can be an overwhelming task in and of itself. Let’s break this down to a step-by-step process that will better enable you to wrap your mind around this daunting task. STEP #1 Create a Basic Marketing Strategy Creating basic marketing strategies starts with defining your goals. Are you striving to attract new sales customers, or is your focus more on growing your service department? Maybe your service lane is backed up with business, but you need a good retention plan to get your currently active and inactive customers to continue using your services. Once you’ve clarified your goals, you’ll need to decide which marketing tools you wish to use. These options seem endless, but you can narrow them down by thinking about your target customer. Automotive Digital Marketing Digital marketing is essential these days with the amount of time people spend glancing at their phones and perusing social media. Email Marketing and other digital marketing platforms are the quickest and most cost-effective ways to get things rolling. Digital media and social media marketing should be a top focus for any automotive sales or service digital marketing strategy. Your dealership must have a visually pleasing presentation on social media that includes clean, professional pictures and high-quality video production. Web Design Perhaps you want to improve your overall online presence. After all, your website is one of your most valuable marketing tools. If this is the goal, you’ll need a company that has a professional graphic design and web design team. Expect to see a portfolio of websites and graphics the company has designed and developed in the past. When viewing the work, put yourself in the place of a customer, and ask yourself the following questions: Are both the UX and UI up to par? In other words, is the website pleasing to the eye (UI - User Interface) and easy to navigate (UX - User Experience)?Is the branding clean and clear?Are the images high quality?Do the pages load quickly and answer questions right away? Search Engine Optimization It doesn’t matter how fancy your website design and graphics are if no one ever sees them. Therefore, when looking at a digital marketing agency’s website design portfolio, ask about their Search Engine Optimization or SEO services. Customers won’t come across your website based on its appearance alone. The use of keywords and other content deemed to be valuable by Google is what causes a website to pop up at the top of search engine results pages (SERP). There are SEO companies that focus only on achieving this goal. These companies will employ organic SEO and PPC (Pay Per Click) strategies. If you’re planning on using a marketing company for their web design work, they should also have an SEO expert to ensure the website is prominent on Google searches. Traditional Marketing A word of warning, do not underestimate the power of traditional marketing like radio, television, and print ads. Direct mail, when done right, is still a very effective way to reach customers. Marketers should be targeting a specific customer to get the most out of the dealership’s marketing dollars. TVI MarketPro3 implements what we call Intelligent Direct Mail. We utilize a database to identify customers at every stage of vehicle ownership and maintenance interval. We then ensure they receive the right service offer at just the right time. STEP #2 Determine the Agency Type Now that you have a better idea of your strategy and the different marketing tools you’d like to use, it’s time to find the right marketing company. Use your clearly defined goals to help narrow down your options. You’ll need to determine if a full-service agency. In the Loop notes that “a full-service agency could gather data and put that to use in every department of your company’s online marketing, be it in the content or the design.” You could even partner with a full-service digital marketing firm if that would better meet your digital strategies. Some companies focus on a niche industry like automotive marketing agencies. These companies better understand the industry and might be more able to represent your brand. In the Loop touches on this point by stating, “A niche agency knows how to gather data in their field of work and will apply those to your online marketing to help in one specific area.” Whichever direction you decide to go, narrow it down to 3 or 4 options, and let their presentation help you with the final choice. STEP #3 Look at Company Track Record Anytime you’re making a B2B commitment, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about the company’s history. Is it a data-driven company that executes thorough market research? Their presentation should make this very apparent, and they should have done thorough research about your dealership before walking through your door. The company should show proof of strategic marketing and have a strong track record as a marketing and branding agency. The candidates should offer frequent reporting and feedback and be willing to put their money where their mouth is. You should beware of long-term contracts that lock you in for an unreasonable amount of time. A company that is confident in its results should not feel the need to lock a dealer into a contract for more than six months to a year. STEP #4 Make a Call If you’ve been careful to walk through the detailed selection process outlined above, then it is likely whichever company you choose will produce a good ROI. No matter which company you select, it is your job to hold the company accountable. Don’t let your new marketing partner slide on follow-up reporting, but give it a little time. While some marketing efforts magically produce results in a month, the long game often wins out. So as long as you’re seeing steady results in a positive direction, you will eventually see even better results down the line.
Dec 9, 2021 | 5 minute read
Setting Up Your Dealership PPC Advertising
Advertisers are spending millions of dollars every day to compete for the attention of the consumer. TV commercials, outdoor billboards, and radio are all examples of trying to attract consumer attention. After seeing all these advertisements, consumers turn to google to make their decision. Will you be found when the consumers are working to narrow down their choices? PPC Advertising or Pay Per Click Advertising gives you the extra spotlight your dealership needs in order to be found on a google search. We explained this form of advertising in a previous article entitled Automotive PPC Advertising for Your Marketing Arsenal. This would be a great resource if you're still scratching your head to understand PPC Advertising. Once you better understand what PPC advertising is and how it can benefit you, it's time to shift your focus to setting up a campaign. Things to Consider for an Automotive PPC Campaign. Ian Favre is the Digital Marketing Director at TVI MarketPro3. Before physically creating dealer ads, he first determines how this paid search campaign will help the dealer? TVI MarketPro3 starts with an onboarding phone call in which our team digs to learn more about the specific goals and pain points of the dealer service department. The dealer may be struggling to get people through express lanes, or they may need more traffic for tire sales. The more specific we can be in goal setting with a customer, the more likely we are to find success for them. Everyone wants more leads, but what specific things, on your service drive, can we help with to make an immediate impact for you? Budgeting for Dealer PPC Ads TVI MarketPro3 designs all paid search campaigns with an overarching budget for fixed operations. We then create groups with topic-specific ads. For example, we might have an oil change, brakes, or other categories that meet specific dealer goals. Once we have a budget and each group is created, we assign that budget to all groups. We tell Google these groups are all of equal importance, so spend where these searches are. At TVI we do not assign "individual budgets [to] spend this much money on brakes, this much money on oil changes. It is telling Google, you have X amount of money to spend per day, say $50, $75, $100, whatever the investment is... go spend that money where the searches are,” says Favre. Plan for Patience When auto dealerships develop a PPC strategy, they must realize it takes time to reach maximum performance. Once you get data inside Google Ad Words and Google Analytics, you can start making adjustments in the campaign for best performance. Pay-per-click advertising requires continual monitoring and daily adjustments. Any company or digital marketer expecting to do a "set it and forget it" paid search campaign will not achieve the desired success. Keyword Research for PPC Keyword research is a pillar of paid search success. At TVI MarketPro3, we use several third-party tools in our keyword research. Programs like SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner give great insight into valuable keywords. We also have DMS integration with dealers allowing us to pull all the customer comments in the repair orders. We then scrape all the keywords that could be from those customer comments. Negative Keywords Using Negative Keyword lists in Google Ads helps advertisers prevent serving impressions or generating ad clicks on keywords unrelated to the business. These negative keyword lists can vary from dealership to dealership, but the dealership name can drive a need for these negative terms. Negative keywords are those words on which you do not want to bid. A lot of it is going to be word association to elements of your business. For example, let us imagine a dealership named Broom Stick Chevrolet. Using negative keywords will prevent an ad from appearing in searches related to brooms or sticks irrelevant to the business. Quality traffic is the driving force of paid search, and digital marketers have to find a good balance in generating clicks and leads for dealers but making sure that those are quality clicks and leads. DIY or Hire a pro? Can all of this paid search work be done in-house by someone on staff? An internet or BDC Manager, perhaps? Yes, it is entirely possible, and many dealerships have elected to go this route. But ask yourself this; has your internet manager been managing automotive paid search campaigns for 15+ years? Does your BDC manager have all of their Google certifications? So dealerships have the option to hire somebody and bring it all in-house. However, it will probably be more cost-effective with a more skilled individual at an agency that does this professionally for hundreds of automotive dealers. Visit our website for more information on TVI MarketPro3's Paid Search program.
Sep 29, 2021 | 4 minute read
Auto Dealer BDC for Sales and Service
It can be difficult for a service or sales manager to give each customer their undivided attention. When finalizing a sale or handling daily challenges of the service department, it’s easy to miss important incoming calls. Unfortunately, these calls may even get lost because they’re on hold for too long. It might also be a challenge to do customer outreach via phone calls or emails. After all, these professionals are also trying to get through all the other tasks their job requires. Therefore, each dealership should have a team dedicated to taking care of customer communication. The Business Development Center (BDC) is this dedicated team. Purpose of a Dealership Business Development Center Automotive BDC or Business Development Center provides customer outreach and customer acquisition for both sales and service. Many think the primary goal of the BDC team is to schedule appointments, but it’s more than that. Modern technology has allowed robots to schedule appointments over the phone, and people can easily schedule online. It’s all about positive interactions and staying ahead of a customer’s needs. Whether a customer calls or reaches out via email, the first impression is everything. Treating this moment with the TLC it deserves will get the customer off the phone or computer and into your dealership. When your phone and internet leads make the first contact, what will their initial experience be? Dealers must stay ahead of Google and the possibility of a customer walking into an independent repair shop. BDC teams answer inbound calls and make outbound calls for your dealership, and therefore, are the customers’ initial point of contact. Sales BDC Your BDC team is an extension of your automotive sales team. It should be striving to acquire sales appointments. The team should go beyond an availability request and get a customer in for a test drive. The phone call or email is the initial part of the sales process. So your BDC representatives need to complement outstanding customer service with appropriate sales techniques. Sales managers must work closely with the BDC manager to ensure goals align. The customer experience should be seamless from the phone call through to the purchase and follow-up call. Service BDC Service departments should have a portion of the BDC dedicated to getting current and new customers in for service. Or, there should be an equal amount of BDC energy spent on both the service department and the sales department. Service directors and managers are busy serving the daily flow of customers and vehicles. It is still necessary for these individuals to create strong customer relationships. But it can be tough to balance the needs of the in-person customer and the phone or email customers. For this reason, BDC representatives should be the ones focused on fielding incoming calls and scheduling appointments. They should also be placing outgoing calls and emails, both of which ensure a top-notch customer experience. A dealership’s BDC agents have more focused time to get the appointment as they are not dealing with incoming traffic. Service advisors often overlook this as they are busy taking care of their current customer’s needs. And it may be that the next service is too far out for the customer to consider at that moment. The BDC team can reach out at the right time to offer an appointment. Having a team dedicated to calling customers closer to their needed service takes the pressure off the service advisor. It allows the customer to feel served rather than sold when interacting with the dealership leading to greater customer satisfaction. And appointments set closer to the date are less likely to have a no-show. Does your dealership need a BDC? The cost may seem high, but a well-managed BDC can yield a solid return for a dealership. The key phrase here is well-managed. A strong BDC manager will know how to create systems of accountability and professionalism to ensure every customer interaction is excellent. Motivation, proper training, and performance-based pay plans can make a BDC team a great addition to any dealership. See more automotive insights at TVI MarketPro3.
Aug 11, 2021 | 3 minute read
How to grow a service department
Have you recently taken over a service department, or has your repair order count been stagnant for longer than you would like to admit? Either way, step back and take a birds-eye view of the big picture to ensure you address the areas that have the most impact on growth in your service drive: marketing, customer service, and quality work. Inspecting team performance in these areas might give you the jump-start you need. Marketing It is a simple idea; get the word out to the ideal customer, and entice them to visit your service drive for maintenance or repair. But without an effective strategy and a marketing team that knows how to bring this idea to fruition, it often remains just that, an idea. You must know your customers, reach your customers, and then work to keep your customers. Define your customer TVI MarketPro3 has four distinctions when it comes to defining a customer. Active Customers, Inactive Customers, Lost Customers, and New VINS. Each of these customer types requires a unique marketing strategy. Active Customers Active Customers are existing customers who have done business with you in the past year. These customers need a solid retention marketing strategy. Customer retention is key to building the base of your business. Inactive Customers Inactive Customers have let some time go by since their last visit, roughly 13-24 months. They are familiar with your service department, but they need an offer to get them into your drive and back to active status. Lost Customers Lost Customers have not paid you a visit in 25-42 months. You need to get back on their radar if you want them to return to your service drive. New VIN Customers New VIN Customers live in your service area but have never stepped foot in your dealership. You read that right! They are right in your backyard. They drive your dealership make, and yet they have not brought their vehicle to you for service. You do not want to miss out on this growth opportunity. New customers allow you to build upon the customer base you have worked so hard to retain. Reach your customer Gear your marketing to increase customer counts through several platforms, including email, social media, and direct mail. Data from multiple sources (DMS, Change of Address, and Recall databases) will allow you to target customers according to their status and customer type. Be sure to send timely emails and direct mail pieces, so they think of your services at just the right time. Retain your customer Retention is imperative if you are looking to grow, so while you must bring in new customers, your goal should be to keep them coming back until they are ready to buy their next car. Be crystal clear on how you measure your retention rate and set monthly goals to ensure you are on track. Strive to provide a five-star customer experience to keep your customers returning, and remember to include your current customers in your marketing strategies. Do not assume because they came to you once for service (even if it was outstanding service) that you will be top of mind for their next service. Customer Service Once you attract customers, the challenge is keeping them, and the customer experience is a number one determining factor on whether or not a customer will return. You can have a state-of-the-art facility with all the bells and whistles, but if your team fails to connect with its customers, they likely will not return. Make it personable, but keep it professional. See your customers as human beings first and not just another vehicle. Be empathetic to their situation as expensive car repairs can be life-changing events on the financial front for most people. However, you have to remain professional at all times. TVI MarketPro3’s Eric Hawkes addresses this in the Grow Your RO video series. “The professional is to deliver them the information that is pertinent to the car. It is the customer’s decision what they can afford and how they can afford it,” says Hawkes. Finding that balance between empathy and professionalism will go a long way in building a trusting relationship with your client. Earn the customer’s trust When leaving their vehicle with you, a customer wants to know it is in good hands. A thorough walk-around with customers is one way to earn their trust. Listen to their concerns, and review these with them before they leave. You must also follow through on what you say you will do. If you say you will call them at a specific time, do so even if you don’t have all the information for them. Communication is essential to creating trust between you and your customers. A friendly farewell In the Grow Your RO video series, TVI MarketPro3’s Nick Shaffer addresses the need to walk the customer to the car and answer any remaining questions they may have when delivering the vehicle. "[The transaction] should not end at your desk. It should not end in the service drive. It should not end in the lounge. It should end at their car with you opening the door for them and thanking them for their business,” urges Shaffer. Outstanding experience Make sure your customers rave about the experience they have in working with your dealership. Everything from the walk-around to the delivery should instill confidence and be as hassle-free as possible. Customer satisfaction is a must if a service manager wants to enjoy long-term success. Quality Work No matter how effective your marketing and how connected you are to your customers, you must get the job done right the first time. Nobody wants to pay for a car repair, and nobody wants to take on the inconvenience of being without a ride for multiple days. So service teams must have checks and balances in place to ensure they complete repairs efficiently and correctly. Skilled professionals Technicians must be knowledgeable, so they can quickly identify the issue and make the needed repairs. Assign technicians to the appropriate services and repairs according to their abilities. Doing this ensures you are not paying a high dollar rate for a low-dollar repair. The service team must be well-trained for the work they are assigned. Fix it right the first time The proper checks and balances ensure the work is completed correctly on the first attempt. Customers have no patience for bringing their car in multiple times when the techs failed to get it right or made the wrong repair; a huge reason for the lack of trust in the car repair industry overall. Conclusion Consistently monitoring all of these areas and holding your team accountable for meeting these standards is how you will see the growth you are hoping for in your service department. As Shaffer says, “it all comes down to people and processes.” Learn more on how a partnership with TVI MarketPro3 can help you grow your service department.
Jun 15, 2021 | 5 minute read
Increase Profit in the Service Department
The Fixed Operations Department has a significant impact on dealership success. Throughout the automotive industry, dealerships rely on these areas to increase the bottom line company-wide. Vehicle service and parts sales are two of the main fixed ops segments of the dealership. Therefore, examining how to increase profit in these areas will help determine what tweaks to make in a service drive. Understanding company financial statements A statement will most often reveal the gross profit in the top few line items. Gross Profit is the income a business has left after paying all direct expenses (cost of sale) related to the manufacturing of a product or the costs associated with providing its services. Scroll down to the “bottom line” of the statement, also known as net profit. After deducting all other expenses, the dealer gets to keep what is left over. These expenses are broken into three categories: Variable, Semi-Fixed, and Fixed. Variable cost examples are commissions, manager’s pay, and policy expenses. Semi-fixed expenses include uniforms, computers, and IT support. Rent, insurance, and depreciation of tools, lifts, and the facility all fall under fixed expenses. Fixed expenses remain more or less consistent over time. The profit margin is a percentage rate based on the gap between profit and revenue. The net profit margin is an indicator of overall company success. Gross profit margin indicates how well a department maximizes revenue while minimizes the cost of sale. Generally, service and parts departments should monitor and manage both to create the best overall result. Financial statements are like the scoreboard in a football game. Coaches make decisions and call plays based on the score. Without a doubt, service managers can use their financial statements to make similar game plans. Alter price, not quality of service To increase the profit margin, raise the price or lower the cost of sale. However, do so without losing the service quality. Focus on increasing repair orders and reducing costs wherever possible. Examine how you can reduce your break-even point. The break-even point is the total expense it takes to operate the business for a month. TVI MarketPro3 agent, Nick Shaffer, has years of experience in fixed operations. When discussing the break-even point he gave us an example from when he managed Acura of Pleasanton. "My nut was $200k, so I knew I needed to earn $200k in gross profit to break even." Shaffer goes on to say, "knowing your break-even point, working to lower that total expense, and always knowing how your gross profit is trending for the month in relation to the ‘nut’ are good stats for a manager to keep an eye on." Monitor the labor rate Labor costs and labor sales are always easy to let slide, but this is a mistake if you are looking to increase your profit margin. Shop operators must calculate their facility’s effective labor rate regularly. They should then consider how to improve the situation. In addition, consider dispatching your repair orders to align the skill level required with the skill level of the technician. Ensure you’re not paying an unnecessarily high wage for a particular repair. Increase incoming dollars We’ve examined some of the cost-cutting areas, but the other half of the profit equation is revenue increases. Look at how you can maximize the hours and parts sold on each repair order. Increasing revenue starts with increased lead generation followed by successful lead conversion practices. So, boost your revenue by increasing the number of transactions or repair orders. Customer acquisition and customer retention need to be at the top of the list when discussing increased revenue. Create referral programs to make it easy for your happy customer to spread the word because customer satisfaction is a must for retaining customers. If you can’t keep returning customers coming through the door, you’ll be spinning your wheels trying to keep your service bay full and prevent lost revenue. View more fixed ops insights.
Jun 7, 2021 | 3 minute read
Social Media Best Practices for Automotive Dealers' Service Departments
2020 undoubtedly highlighted the reliance people have on social media to get their news, information, shopping, and more. Car dealerships were forced to step up their digital marketing game to reach and attract car buyers, but how are dealers performing when it comes to their service drive social media game? A strong social media strategy is a must for a service department. But dealerships generally miss the mark in their service department's social media presence. Absorption Rate Goals The challenge is that dealers are looking to the service department to reach a high absorption rate. A dealership with a high absorption rate is better able to weather the slumps of car sales. One would think that with this lofty goal set before them, the dealership's social media marketing strategy would align. However, as we perused a handful of dealership Facebook Pages, they all seem to send the same message. Sales are the shiny, exciting part of our dealership, while the service department may, or may not, make an appearance on the dealership's social media platforms. The Social Media Balancing Act for Dealerships With so many social media channels available, how do you know where to prioritize? Determining the best social platform to use can be an overwhelming task, but research shows that Facebook is the most popular social media platform for dealer marketing. Therefore, we started by looking at five different dealership Facebook Pages. We included dealerships with different makes located in various parts of the country. We didn’t use dealership names as our goal is not to pick on specific dealers but instead highlight the impression each dealer leaves with its followers. Marketing must align with dealership goals. If a robust service lane is one of those goals, the strategy should match. Unfortunately, we found this is not a common practice in the automotive industry's Facebook strategies. Review of 5 Different Dealership Facebook Pages: Ford Dealership (Springfield, Illinois) October 2020 Posts48 Total Posts - 28 Sales | 4 Service | 16 General Interest8.33% Service PostsSeptember 2020 Posts55 Total Posts - 34 Sales | 4 Service | 17 General Interest7.27% Service PostsTotal Service Post % for two-month Span7.77% Toyota Dealership (Houston, Texas) October 2020 Posts70 Total Posts - 55 Sales | 5 Service | 10 General Interest7.14% Service PostsSeptember 2020 Posts25 Total Posts - 21 Sales | 2 Service | 2 General Interests8.00% Service PostsTotal Service Post % for two-month Span7.37% Chevrolet Dealership (New York, New York) October 2020 Posts31 Total Posts - 23 Sales | 0 Service | 8 General Interest0.00% Service PostsSeptember 2020 Posts20 Total Posts - 20 Sales | 0 Service | 0 General Interest0.00% Service PostsTotal Service Post % for two-month Span0.00% Honda Dealership (San Jose, California) October 2020 Posts12 Total Posts - 9 Sales | 3 Service | 0 General Interest25% Service PostsSeptember 2020 Posts9 Total Posts - 6 Sales | 2 Service | 1 General Interest22% Service PostsTotal Service Post % for two-month Span23.81% Volkswagen Dealership (Jacksonville, FL) October 2020 Posts30 Total Posts - 25 Sales | 1 Service | 4 General Interest3.33% Service PostsSeptember 2020 Posts22 Total Posts - 19 Sales | 1 Service | 2 General Interest4.55% Service PostsTotal Service Post % for two-month Span3.85% These dealerships each vary in the number of posts they had per month, week, and day. Some seemed very consistent and methodical in their master posting plan, while others seemed sporadic and disjointed. Some had dozens of posts with customers and their new vehicles, while others seem to have no human element at all. But the one thing each of these dealerships had in common is the sales department was feasting at the Facebook table while the service department got the leftover social media morsels. These five dealerships combined averaged 8.56% posts that pointed to their service department. Why the Oversight? Dealers can often be more sales-focused, thereby influencing the dealership's marketing focus. The result is a Facebook page that reaches and attracts car buyers only. It is important to note that service customers are not necessarily the same as car buyers. The ideal service customer has an older vehicle that needs more involved maintenance or repairs. Many aren’t interested in car buying, and even if they are, they still need to take care of the car they are driving. Marketing to these two different customer types takes planning and management. The right marketing team will understand the role the service department plays in the dealership’s bottom line. They will also realize the service department gets customers on the lot, potentially leading to future sales. Increasing Brand Awareness to Potential Service Customers? Let’s use Facebook’s tips for business and customize these specifically to the car dealer's service department. Capture Video The quickest and easiest way to make a statement is to capture a quick pic or create a short slideshow or video. Build trust by introducing your service team and showing them in action. Ask a team member what they are working on and how they are solving a customer’s problem? Show off your new service app or your beautiful waiting area. These visuals go a long way in painting the experience for service customers. Engage Engage with your audience with a vehicle service quiz with a prize for the winner. For example, “What mileage should you have a transmission flush? Get the closest answer without going over and receive $10 off your next oil change.” Story Time Another great way to attract followers is to tell a story. A service department has many unique customers, each with unique stories. And while they are in your service department, you are a part of their story. Publish a quick post telling the story of a mom who had two children with her when she arrived at your car dealership. Explain how happy you were to provide her with a loaner vehicle, and she didn’t have to spend half the day wrangling her little ones in your lobby. Or tell the story of a gentleman who came in for an oil change, and your team noticed his tires were looking worn. After discussing this matter with the customer, your team installed a new set of tires and had him off to work quickly. You know what your stories are, and you know how your team’s service makes a difference in your customer’s lives. Take a quick minute to share these stories. Pro Tip It is important to remember that not all posts need to be about your business. You can also provide helpful, useful, and interesting content that is unrelated to your service department. For example, share the morning rush hour traffic link. People will slow their scroll to view this, and they will see your logo in the process. You can occasionally add a call to action with this type of post like, “Don’t sit in traffic! Instead, enjoy a cup of coffee and an oil change while you wait for traffic to pass.” Spread the Word You should also encourage happy customers to jump on Facebook to submit an online review. Make it easy for them by sending the link in a follow-up email. Be sure you've done all you can do to satisfy the customer before sending this follow-up email. Nothing's worse than being asked to submit a review when you weren't happy with your service. Blog that Benefits Share your blog posts, but be sure these posts are high-quality posts and are of interest to the audience you’re trying to attract. They should be written to provide useful information to the reader and to set your dealership apart as an expert in the industry. Add an Ad Facebook Ads are another way to spread the word about your services. Facebook will guide you through this process and help you to target the right customer. Grow your social media reach all while keeping within your marketing budget. Bonus: Facebook is not a "fix it and forget it" form of marketing. The goal is to get people to engage. If your content is successful in this, the expectation is that someone will be there to answer questions and keep the conversations going. A service department cannot obtain a social media presence by riding the coattails of the sales department. It must have its own digital marketing strategy that is not necessarily independent of the sales department. Instead, it should complement the sales department and create marketing magic to attract both sales and service customers to the dealership. Visit TVI MarketPro3 for more automotive marketing tips.
May 24, 2021 | 6 minute read
Successful Sales to Service Handoff Process
To be successful, an automotive dealership must sell more than just vehicles. It must sell the entire dealership. After all, vehicle sales alone do not keep a dealership afloat. Mastering the sales to service handoff process is imperative to dealership success. Other departments play a huge role in financially safeguarding the dealer. This is especially true in times of declining car sales. The service department takes the lead in this area and is the true profit machine for a dealership. Therefore dealers should not ignore the service drive in the car buying and selling process. When purchasing a car, the salesperson should see their sales customer as a future service customer. The customer should get the impression that sales teams and service teams are one and the same, and they work together as an overall customer success team. To achieve this in the short amount of time a customer is present in the dealership, the service and sales teams must be a well-oiled machine (pardon the pun) when it comes to a good handoff. 7 Important Steps to a Smooth Sales to Service Handoff Process #1 Plan, Coordinate, Educate Customer success does not come without a well-coordinated plan. This plan should be detailed and choreographed in the sales and service playbooks. Each member of each side of the team should know the expectations of new customer interactions and handoffs. Customer success managers and other leaders should sell their team on why this process is so important to the dealership and that each team member is crucial to its success. #2 Rehearse for your time in the spotlight A successful handoff will not occur if it feels robotic or forced. Your team must literally rehearse the entire process; script and all. The dealership is your stage, and your team members are the performers. Practice running the whole process with one team member playing the role of the customer. The more times your crew can walk through the process the more comfortable they’ll be when working with actual customers. #3 The sales team tees it up The sales process sets the tone for the entire onboarding process. If the customer’s experience isn’t positive from the moment they step out of their car, it’ll be difficult to get them on board for the rest of the ride. Sales and service teams must maintain a symbiotic relationship. A sales rep should focus on the sale of the vehicle but should also sell the customer on how the dealership can best serve them in the future. The thought process should not be “how can I best sell a customer?” Instead, it should be “how can I best serve a customer?” This approach usually sells itself, and it sets the rest of the team up for success in the delivery process. #4 Give the five-star tour As with any tour guide, the sales reps should be enthusiastic and passionate. They should educate the customer about what the dealership provides in all its departments and facilities. As the tour moves on, all team members must do their part to create a pleasant and inviting experience. The culture of the dealership is revealed here. It can either encourage or discourage the customer's return for maintenance and repairs. #5 Meet the service team This is a big moment! Customers might return for their future car buying needs, but this moment will help them decide if they’ll return for their vehicle’s service needs. Introduce them to a service team leader. This team leader should be on cue with their reception of this introduction. Remember, a customer’s time and attention span are limited, so this encounter should be brief but shouldn’t feel rushed. #6 Sell the why As we’ve discussed in other posts, consumers have 3 main objections to using dealerships for their vehicle services. Dealership services are too expensiveDealerships are not close enough to their home or officeThey’ve had a poor experience with a dealership in the past. Take this opportunity to address these objections and sell them on the value they’ll get by using the dealership over an aftermarket option. #7 Schedule their first appointment Make their decision to return an easy one. Offer to schedule the appointment before guiding the customer out of the service department. Follow this up with reminder phone calls, or even better, an app that automates maintenance scheduling and reminders. If your company offers such an app, take the time to walk the customer through downloading and using it. This will increase the chances they will use it going forward. Conclusion A dealer’s long-term success is dependent on a coordinated effort by all sales and service team members in the handoff process. This process is made easier by planning and practicing. But once this process is complete, there is still work to do. Every time a customer enters your service line, the service should feel like the day they first entered. This is what keeps them coming back again and again. This is what keeps your dealer top of mind for the customer's next car purchase. Visit TVI MarketPro3 for more info and automotive marketing resources.
May 10, 2021 | 4 minute read
Guide to Dealership Service Department KPI
Measuring success is imperative to any business. And within each business, the individual parts or departments must know what their definition of success is to obtain it. These measurements and definitions are the dealership service department KPI or Key Performance Indicators. The questions automotive service advisors must answer are: What is a KPI? What are dealership service departments KPIs? How often should they be measured? What should you do once you meet them? By consistently working to answer each one of these questions, you can use them as a road map to set and meet your company’s goals. What is a KPI? Balanced Scorecard Institute, a Strategy Management Group, sponsors KPI.org; an online resource for KPI practitioners. The website defines KPIs as the critical (key) indicators of progress toward an intended result. KPIs provide a focus for strategic and operational improvement and create an analytical basis for decision-making. They also help focus attention on what matters most. What are dealership service departments' KPIs? We further review KPIs in an article entitled "Automotive Service Department KPI Defined." Here we review how effective labor rate or hours sold per repair order are the most widely used KPIs. Customer pay types are important indicators. When we are talking about the shop, the biggest KPI would be shop efficiency and proficiency. Highly trained service technicians with adequate skill levels for the repairs they perform have an enormous impact on total labor sales. Dealers also focus on customer pay repair count, total repair order count, and retention metrics. The parts department is a critical part of fixed operations. The parts department would be tracking gross profit percentage, phase in and phase out metrics, and inventory turn times. The customer satisfaction index (CSI) reflects customer retention and is the main KPI for service departments. Every manufacturer calls the CSI something different. We call these CFC or OLP. They are all different acronyms to describe the same thing. Did we give the client a pleasant experience? Retention is key Retention is also a dealership service department KPI. New customers are key to any business but keeping your current customers gives you a base on which to grow your business. Dealerships lose 80% of their customers to independents. Consider what keeps them from coming back. Did they have an excellent customer experience? Measure this by how many 5 star organic reviews received.Is the customer’s perception that prices are too high? With price transparency, the customer must be educated that in many cases, independents are more expensive.Is the service team involved in the car sale? Are they meeting the new sales customer and working to transition them to a service customer?Provide the very best customer service. The entire transaction should be smooth and easy for the customer. A service manager should also recognize technician value and work to keep good techs. You do this by treating them like true team members and recruiting techs that add value to your team. How often should they be measured? Service advisors should paint the picture of success for their team. Just as they need a clear road map to success, so does their rest of their crew. Everyone from the techs to the customer service reps needs to know the vision of success for the department overall as well as It is imperative to set goals if your team is going to succeed. Break goals down into time increments like monthly, weekly, and daily. Perform this for the individual as well as for the whole team. Ensure each person knows what their individual production goals are and the steps they need to accomplish them. Measure goals on the deadline set when creating the goals. Measure daily goals daily, weekly goals weekly, and so on. What should you do once you meet the dealership service department KPI? Now here’s the fun part. Meeting the dealership service department KPI is a huge achievement that deserves celebration. There must be some acknowledgment and congratulations when a service team meets his or her own KPIs. Motivate them to strive for the next KPI with enthusiasm and passion. For more tips and resources visit TVI MarketPro3.
Apr 26, 2021 | 3 minute read
Fixed Operations Best Practices for the Phone
Customer acquisition is imperative to all businesses, and so is customer retention. The automotive industry is no exception, so service leaders must know the best practices to implement throughout their department. Fixed operations best practices start with your first interaction with a customer. Many times this interaction occurs over the phone. However, many service departments are lacking customer service when it comes to their phones. The phone call experience for the sales department tends to be terrific. The customer service representative connects the customer immediately to a sales agent. And from the start, the agent works the sales magic. People in sales make their living this way. They work hard to find what the customer needs as quickly and efficiently as possible because their livelihood depends on it. They also work very hard to get the customer in the building as there is a greater chance of making a sale if a customer can see it, smell it, and drive it. News Flash... Service Sells! Jerry Thibeau is the CEO and founder of Phone Ninjas, Recon Ninjas, and Talk Options. He hosted a 2017 webinar entitled “How to Fix Your Fixed Operations.” Here he notes service departments are selling more frequently than the sales departments. The phone service in the service department must reflect this. Customers are often passed around from the initial call to the service department to the parts department to hold and then cycled through again. They begrudgingly have to restate their problem multiple times. Many calls go by without an effort to answer the question or get the customer in for the needed service or repair. The customer can become frustrated, and it can create a negative experience. Missing the mark on phones equals dealership losses Here is an overview of what the dealership misses out on by not making the most of their incoming calls. First of all, they miss a customer pay repair order. One minor repair may not make a huge dent. However, if you look further, it is so much more than one repair. Service teams miss an opportunity to get a customer in to experience the excellent service they provide. They also miss being able to show the customer what might be an incredible facility. Anytime you have an RO, there is an opportunity to win a customer over. They will get to experience your service, and you can present special offers for future service. If the experience is positive, they will likely return for future service. And the chain reaction continues. These customers could turn into loyal customers or even raving fans. They will tell their friends about their experience or write great reviews on their service. This trickle-down effect leads to success in the service drive. A thriving service department leads to successful vehicle sales, and the customer feelings of honesty and transparency in the service department spill over to the entire dealership. On the contrary, lose a service customer and lose a potential future car sale. Create a fail proof system Creating standard phone practices in all departments is key to getting new customers through the door. Yet dealership service departments often overlook this one. Incoming calls are a simple, low-cost form of lead generation. Developing precise phone call systems helps those who answer the phone to be proficient and effective. Here are five areas dealerships can improve when helping a customer over-the-phone #1 Script it Write a script. Post the script. Learn the script. Not everyone on your team has the gift of gab, so having a script to follow when answering the phone is crucial. We are not talking Shakespeare here. It is just a standard way of answering the phone that your service customers will come to expect and appreciate. And everyone who might answer the phone should be expected to memorize it, recite it, and say it with a smile. The script does not end with the greeting. You must expand it to train team members on how to acknowledge the problem. Then give specific tracks to follow based on the customer situation. #2 Solve the problem A unique problem comes with each phone call. Your job is to go the extra mile to solve that problem, but be sure the customer knows what's going on. A long hold while looking up a part or seeking an answer can be frustrating, especially if the customer is in the dark. Preface a hold with a response like this: "I'm happy to help you with (insert problem). Give me just one second while I look up that part." Now the customer knows you are serving them while they wait. If the hold time gets lengthy, pick up the phone and touch base with the customer. Let them know why it is taking a little longer than expected. Full communication with a phone customer creates confidence. It shows the customer that they are the primary focus of your attention. #3 Create the experience Every phone call answered is an opportunity to paint the customer experience with your service department. Ask them how their day has been before diving into the solution, a simple way to drop a little nugget of joy. Let them know they are talking to a caring human being and not a robot. #4 Get the appointment Follow-through is key to successful phone practices. Your customer may not always need a service when they call. However, your goal should always be to schedule an appointment. Thibeau emphasized this in his webinar. He performed mystery calls to dealerships and reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of each call. He stressed the importance of getting that appointment. The obvious way of doing this is to schedule a time to address the problem they called on. Even if they do not require a visit, you should still offer to get their next maintenance service on the books. Relax! We are not talking about high-pressure sales. Instead, you are offering something they may need and just have not taken the time to schedule. You must capitalize on every incoming call. And if you have handled the call correctly leading up to this point, it will likely feel helpful rather than pushy. #5 Follow up If you need to call a customer back, give a specific time, and then call them at that time. Even if you lack the answer, call them to let them know you are still working on it. Make it a practice to place follow-up calls after repairs. This call enhances what was hopefully a positive experience in your service drive. It shows you care, and it increases the likelihood of a return for future service. This call is also a great time to discuss future needs and offers. Conclusion Fixed operations best practices start with a successful phone call process for your fixed ops team. Planning, training, and practicing can help you achieve this goal. As a service leader, you might even make a few mystery calls yourself to put your service team to the test. Make this a priority for you and your team, and keep your phones and your service department buzzing. Subscribe today to the TVI MarketPro3 blog for more articles on Fixed Operations best practices.
Apr 12, 2021 | 5 minute read
FIXED OPERATIONS PRICE TRANSPARENCY
Fixed operations price transparency is a hurdle dealerships must overcome to grow their repair orders. It's important to move past a customer's objections, and one of those objections will almost always be price. Consumers turn to Kelley Blue Book (KBB) for an assessment when purchasing or selling a vehicle. The KBB website draws about 20 million visitors per month. These visitors are all looking for the value of a vehicle. But, what about those customers that are not in the market to buy or sell a car? They own a car, and they want an easy way to price services for maintenance and repairs. KBB Upgrade KBB now has a new feature for car owners that helps increase consumer awareness of the cost of service and repairs. Car owners will now have a whole new direction when scheduling service visits with dealership service departments. It’s called Kelley Blue Book Car Repair Pricing, and it is making great strides in creating fixed operations price transparency. This easy to use feature readily answers four basic questions: What do I need?When do I need to do it?Who’s qualified to do it?How much, within a range, should I expect to pay? As if that wasn’t easy enough, the user can also easily schedule a service appointment with one of the featured auto repair centers. National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) presented this new feature in 2020 in Las Vegas. It highlighted that dealers have an awareness problem in their service marketing. There is also a trust problem in fixed operations, and 4 out of 5 customers attribute these problems to pricing when servicing their vehicle. They feel dealership service centers are more expensive, but this isn’t necessarily true. This is where the KBB Car Repair Pricing feature is helping to bridge the trust and transparency gap. Here’s how it works: Visit KBB’s Service & Repair Pricing Guide. Recall, Maintenance & Repair Price Estimator. A consumer will enter all the details of their vehicle in the drop-down menus at the top of the page. Details include the year, make, model, style, and mileage. They should enter the correct zip code to receive pricing for their specific market. Once they input the vehicle information, they select the needed repair from a drop-down menu with dozens of repairs to choose from. Then the price generating machine instantly spits out a price range based off 200 million dealer repair orders. KBB accumulated and analyzed this data from real sales around the country to be able to calculate an accurate price range for a specific market. This empowers the consumer with both the knowledge and confidence needed to make informed decisions for their vehicle. It also encourages dealership repairs by informing the customer of the specialized training the dealer mechanics receive. KBB reviews the dealer’s loaner car policy as well as its collision repairs expertise. The car repair pricing tool emphasizes the high quality that dealership service departments provide. Building Trust and Price Transparency KBB’s new feature has helped bypass many consumer objections to using a dealership. However, the dealerships still need to make greater strides regarding Fixed Ops. They must build trust by ensuring positive customer experiences throughout the repair process. While KBBs car repair pricing feature helps with price transparency, the dealers need to do their part. Dealerships must ensure their prices are competitive in the market and include as many repair prices as possible on the website. This allows the customer to know what to expect before getting a quote. Service advisors should know the published prices on the website so they can stay true to these prices. There also needs to be an efficient system in place to update the website when price changes occur. According to autoalert.com, “transparency is at the core of great relationships between businesses and consumers.” While they are referencing car sales here, the same is true for the service department. Infomedia.com supports this claim and expands on it with the presentation of the Multi-Point Inspection (MPI). Many dealerships are moving from paper to digital customer presentations to add transparency to the vehicle inspection process. In doing so, they can add pictures and/or videos which has had a significant impact on service sales. Fixed Operations Price Transparency online Today, consumers prefer the visual aspect of online shopping. They jump online at a moment's notice to see a product. They can price compare and even do further research on a product or service. This is the modern-day consumer. And the automotive service industry should no longer ask customers to pay for something they’ve never laid eyes on. An educated customer is more confident in going forward with a costly repair. If a dealership can overcome fixed operations price transparency, it will gain customer trust. More customers will frequent the dealership for service. This makes them more likely to purchase their next vehicle from this same dealer. This hurdle is huge to creating a top-of-the-line service department. For more resources, visit TVI MarketPro3
Mar 29, 2021 | 4 minute read
Dealership and Automotive Service Marketing
When brainstorming automotive service marketing ideas, there is an array of options from which to choose. Dealerships may select from multiple platforms and multiple strategies. All businesses navigate this marketing mountain, and auto repair shops are no exception. In a car dealership, car sales are visual superstars. So they generally get the majority of the marketing focus. But with auto parts and service being a sustaining force for the dealership, it should take a more prominent position in a dealership’s marketing masterplan. The first step in creating the marketing plan is to determine which methods and platforms to use. The goal is to get the company brand and message in front of potential customers, and many marketing strategies achieve this. Traditional Marketing Methods for Automotive Service Marketing We live in a digital world. But that doesn’t mean the proven marketing approaches of the past no longer have a place at the table. Calling, print marketing, and paid media advertising are still effective marketing methods. Phone calls Reach out and call a customer. Phone calls to current and potential customers don’t need to be forced or uncomfortable. The goal is not to push a sale. It should simply be a friendly reminder and to share any great offers for the service department. Phone conversations should include pleasantries and the latest specials. This kind of outreach has a personal touch that will remind a customer that you’re there and ready to serve them. Print There are multiple options when it comes to print marketing. You can advertise in newspapers and magazines. The cost of these ads usually depends on the location and circulation size of the publication. The size and color option of the ad itself also has an impact on cost. Black and white ads are less expensive than full-color ads. These ads should be local and relevant to your market. The services offered in colder regions may not apply to the warmer, southern parts of the country. Therefore, placing an ad for a Winter Prep Service Package in a national publication may not apply to a large portion of the publication recipients. For a more individual reach, send letters or direct mail coupon offers through the mail. Even if these offers end up in the wastebasket, there’s a great chance someone will set momentary eyes on it. At the very least, this increases overall brand awareness. But existing customers, as well as potential customers, might need the services offered. Paid Media Advertising We see and hear car sales advertisements just about every time we turn on the television or radio. A dealership could use these ads to showcase a dealership’s service department but are more often used to promote the sales department. Radio and TV spots can cast a bit of a wide net compared to direct mail marketing. Television and radio stations cover a vast area, so much of the audience to hear or see a dealership’s ad lives too far to drive for the dealer’s services. Point-of-Purchase Marketing (POP) Checking out at a grocery store is always a great example of point-of-purchase (POP) marketing. Brilliant marketers have positioned some enticing products right at the eye level of your five-year-old. They are hoping your child will whine and beg for the fun and colorfully packaged products. Service managers can use a similar approach (minus the whining 5-year-old). Car sales customers are there, on the lot, with their current vehicle and possibly a new vehicle on their mind. Reach these shoppers with a coupon for a discounted oil change or some other offer that will get them to your service drive. Digital Marketing for Automotive Service Marketing There are plenty of digital marketing tools to choose from as well. Internet marketing combines web and emails to advertise. These are all powerful tools to drive sales to the service department. Having an online presence can be an effective method of lead generation. The goal here is to capture contact information whenever possible, allowing future marketing outreach for emails and other digital marketing efforts. Use web and email in conjunction with the above traditional advertising formats. Email Once a customer has given you their email, you now have the easy ability to stay top of mind. You can achieve this by sending monthly email newsletters and periodically sending service offers. But remember that not every email needs to be a marketing email. Send some emails with the goal of furthering customer relations and showing customer appreciation. Social Media Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, social media marketing is a cost-effective way to extend your brand’s reach. Paid social media ads get your services in front of a very targeted audience, and engagement with your followers goes a long way to building a positive social presence. Website Interaction Website developers can integrate chat features into a company’s website. These allow service teams to reach out to a customer in real-time while they scroll through the website. However, a team member should consistently monitor this feature should you choose to implement it. Google Presence There are many ways to increase a website’s search engine optimization (SEO). SEO ensures that browsers like google allow potential customers to find your website. A website should include SEO-rich content. Google reviews and google maps also help websites hit the top search results. Word of mouth is a huge influencer when people are deciding which company to use for a service. Businesses heavily rely on Google reviews to increase SEO. Local SEO is also important as people use the search phrase “mechanic near me” when looking for automotive service. Remind them your dealership provides this service by ensuring you appear on this search engine results page and google maps. Automotive Service Marketing Plan You can choose from dozens of automotive service marketing methods to promote your dealership. An auto service department must take these methods into account when creating the service marketing master plan. Use a spreadsheet or another type of marketing checklist to schedule and plan your marketing. Your plan should answer the following questions: WHICH methods you’ll useWHEN you’ll use themHOW you’ll use themHOW OFTEN you’ll use them Schedule all forms of marketing well in advance to provide consistent content to your audience for better brand awareness. For more resources visit TVI MarketPro3
Mar 15, 2021 | 5 minute read
Automotive Industry Absorption Rate and Lost Customers
You thought you did everything right; you have top-notch customer service, great technicians, and a beautiful facility. But you still have customers defecting to aftermarket options for their vehicle maintenance and repairs. The automotive industry absorption rate has a huge impact on dealerships' bottom lines, but this is tough to accomplish if the service department fails to keep customers coming back. What is a lost customer in the automotive industry? A lost or lapsed customer is an individual that hasn’t used a specific service department in more than twelve months or another period of time set by the manufacturer. It’s important to determine why and how it affects the bottom line. Here are three contributing factors: There’s a perception that service prices are too high at dealerships. Independent automotive service businesses are often more conveniently located than a dealership.The customer had a negative experience with the dealership in the service department or with vehicle sales. Protesting the Price Dealerships have done a lot over the last decade to address competitive pricing transparency. But they still need to focus on communication and education. Dealerships have advantages over the aftermarket service providers, but customers are simply unaware. Dealerships should educate their customers on the value of OE (Original Equipment) compared to the aftermarket options. The service team should also review the benefits of certified technicians’ expertise and experience. Location Convenience How does a dealer prevail over a quick lube’s swift service? Ensure when customers make the drive to your dealership, their day can continue with as little interruption as possible. Provide your customers with amenities such as a fresh cup of coffee and free wifi connection, and get them out quickly. For bigger repairs, many dealerships have turned to pick up and drop off options with a loaner vehicle. This is a huge selling point that many of the aftermarket service centers aren’t able to offer. Negative Experiences It’s difficult for any business to overcome bad customer experiences. But this is especially so when it comes to expensive services like car repair. However, a customer can be forgiving when a problem is met with sincerity and an urgency to find a solution. Impact of lost customers on the automotive industry absorption rate The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) provides the formula for calculating absorption rate. Gross Profit (Parts Department + Service Department + Body Shop) ÷ Adjusted Dealership Overhead Expense = Absorption Percentage NADA research shows that with a 70% customer retention level one can expect 90% or better fixed absorption. This highlights the need to retain the customers you have and to win back lost customers. A Win Back Strategy They’re out there. Customers left, but they are waiting for their next oil change or tire replacement. The question is, will they think of you and your dealership when it comes time to schedule this service? Customer loyalty is key to success in the parts and service department. Lost customers aren’t lost because they no longer need a service. They simply don’t see the benefit of a company’s products or services. Or they didn’t have a great customer experience. Dealers must target these customers through strategic marketing. Addressing recalls is a cost effective way to attract potential customers to your service drive. Recalls have increased immensely over the past decade. When these customers come in for the recall repair they get to experience your dealership’s outstanding service team. They might take this opportunity to have other work completed which of course contributes to an increase in fixed operations profit. By focusing on these areas service managers can climb closer and closer to the desired automotive industry absorption rate. Check out TVI MarketPro3 for more marketing information.
Mar 1, 2021 | 3 minute read
Fixed operations best practices emerged from 2020
Covid19 has brought many challenges to the automotive industry. This is particularly true to dealership service departments. Like so many other business leaders, service managers have pivoted to meet these challenges. In doing so, we got a glimpse of some of the future fixed operations best practices. While we look forward to ditching certain pandemic practices, several of these will change how fixed operations perform going forward. Digital systems will certainly be one of these. And although digital solutions have many benefits, the upcoming challenge will be to find a balance moving forward. Digital Solutions Digital marketing and social media were already powerful tools for selling vehicles and increasing traffic in a service bay. These tools made it easier to get special offers and calls to action to the right customer. Automotive news sources are reporting the increased use of digital tools. These tools are creating a touch-free experience in the service and parts departments. A New Challenge While digital solutions often improve the customer experience, it eliminates face to face interaction from the transaction. This makes it more challenging to form customer relationships. Good business leaders know that relationships are key to a successful service department. So how do fixed ops leaders merry these two important parts of their business, digital and personal contact, for fixed operations best practices in 2021? New Processes Processes such as online appointment scheduling and check-in/check-out systems have been automated. Vehicle inspections or report card processes have been digitized as well. This makes for more efficient processes and a positive impact on the bottom line. It can even make for a more positive customer experience like so many other automated services. But if all service departments move to such processes, what will make them stand out from one another? Some of us aren’t old enough to remember full-service gas stations, but it’s easy to imagine the reason a customer would return to one of these establishments time and time again. They enjoyed the person who greeted them, pumped the gas, and went the extra mile to clean the windshield. Today, the two big reasons for choosing where we fill up include price and location. Rarely does the person in the store running the cash register determine where we get our gas. Out of sight. Out of mind. Let’s mirror that to our dealership service departments as we shift into greater reliance on our new digital tools. How does a dealership remain a service customer’s first choice if they have no personal connection to us? The bigger question is, why does it have to be one or the other? Service Managers Feedback We reached out to some of our dealership partners to see what solutions they’ve implemented since Covid19. Dealers all had several physical solutions in common including masks, gloves, and plexiglass when interacting with a customer. Service departments are disinfecting vehicles before and after service. They’re often complimenting this practice with plastic coverings for the interior of the vehicle. Dealers have also found a way to implement a delivery service where they pick-up and drop-off the vehicle being repaired. It’s safe to say, in some ways, we have been very spoiled with new services put forth during the shut down. The vehicles are not the only thing being cleaned and disinfected. Office cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day has also become a major priority. And dealers are providing systems that accommodate for social distancing in the waiting area. Digital tools are also making social distancing easier to accomplish. Online appointment scheduling and automated appointment reminders allow dealerships to operate with fewer staff at one time. Digital repair estimates are protecting both the customers and the service team members from face to face contact. And when checking out, customers are now getting the option to pay online or to use a text-to-pay feature. Looking to the Future The service managers say it is likely dealerships will continue all of these practices. Dealers will continue to offer concierge services and digital communications with clients. Some even mentioned increasing the use of video to assist with repair consultations. This will give the customer a visual of the service being performed which will give them confidence in the service provider. All of our partners surveyed agree that consistent and constant customer communication is key to achieve fixed operations best practices. No matter the digital processes or contactless solutions, nothing will take the place of staying in touch with the customer. This interaction will stand out when the customer is deciding where to go for their next service, and people always have the ability to influence this decision. Subscribe today to get valuable fixed ops related content to your inbox.
Feb 15, 2021 | 4 minute read
Dealership absorption rate and 2021 Repair Order Goals
Dealerships established 2021 goals hoping every car sold goes straight to the bottom line. As you likely already know, vehicle sales alone are not enough to achieve such a dealer’s delight. This 100% dealership absorption rate goal is achievable, but it can only happen with a robust parts and service department. What’s your dealership absorption rate number? First you need to determine your goal rate. You’ll use this rate to set a magic number that paints a picture for your team. Follow this by creating corresponding goals for each team member. Here's the National Automobile Dealers Association calculation for absorption rate. Time to break out your financial statements and a calculator. Determine your total fixed operations gross profit (parts + Service + Body Shop). Figure out your total overhead expense (dealership expenses – new and used variable selling expenses). To calculate your rate, simply divide gross profits by the overhead expenses. You have your rate, but now what? The rate is similar to a mythical unicorn floating in the sky that no one knows what to do with. The absorption rate is important, but it can be difficult to set specific goals from a percentage rate. CEO of DealerPro, Don Reed, presented at the 2017 Massachusetts Automobile Dealers Association Profit Builders Workshop. He points out that you should look at the dollar amount. When you have less than a 100% absorption rate, you’ll subtract gross profit from expenses. This shows how many dollars short you are from achieving this goal. Divide this number by the number of months in your financial statement to determine your monthly shortage. This is your number! This is the dollar amount you need each month in your service department to achieve that big, beautiful 100% absorption rate. Be a number enthusiast What do you do with this magic number? Send it out in smoke signals. Have an airplane fly it on a banner over the dealership. Serve donuts to your team in the shape of the number. Do whatever it takes to help your team keep this number in mind throughout their daily activities. Plan for success How different would each day in your service department look if you broke this number down for your team? Where would you be in 2022 if each member knew what their individual goals were in order to hit this monthly number? Even better, what if they knew what tasks (big or small) they could do to reach their individual goals? The annual dollar amount needed and even the monthly number can often be too big a bite to digest. Lay out a detailed plan for the service department’s customer care, customer retention, and customer acquisition. You will see a steady growth in your absorption rate as the year progresses. Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins Your team now knows their number, and each team member now knows his or her personal goals that will help the team achieve this number. Service department leaders must continuously review these goals. Dish out high fives and congratulations upon meeting goals. Or better yet, offer your team true incentives for meeting these smaller goals. Keep everyone motivated by rewarding the smaller achievements. NADA Formula for calculating Service Absorption Rate: Gross Profit (Parts Department + Service Department + Body Shop) ÷ Adjusted Dealership Overhead Expense = Absorption Percentage Check out TVI MarketPro3 for more automotive marketing insights.
Feb 1, 2021 | 3 minute read
Automotive Service Marketing Ideas for Dealerships
As a dealership leader, you likely find yourself scratching your head for automotive service marketing ideas to increase your RO. Dealerships have countless options when it comes to enticing potential customers to frequent their auto repair service department. Auto shop marketing strategies can be as simple as getting “word of mouth” recommendations. Or it can be the more involved digital and print marketing campaigns. Your dealership may not have an in-house, dedicated automotive service marketing team. If it does have in-house marketing, it likely puts the focus mostly on the sales department. This leaves the service department feeling a little like the middle child. As a service manager, you might be wondering how to shine the marketing spotlight on your service drive. How can this be done when you may have very little to no marketing experience at all? Don’t sell yourself short. You have the ability to get the word out and capture new customers. With a focused marketing plan, it can be simple tasks that you work into your daily, weekly, and monthly routine. Let’s look at 5 basic and budget friendly automotive service marketing ideas that work for any business including auto services. #1 Word of mouth Existing customers are your most valuable form of marketing. People love to talk about their great experiences. Ken Blanchard discusses this in his book Raving Fans. The book claims that making your customers raving fans is the competitive edge today. We all have friends that do it. They passionately sell you a product or service they love without even knowing they’re selling. So how do we put our current customers to work for us? First you must give them something to rave about. Ensure their experience is outstanding and that they leave your service drive feeling like they were treated with fairness and respect. Pay attention to your Facebook feed next time someone asks for a recommendation. People come out of the woodwork to throw their favorite businesses in the mix of comments. If their experience with your service team was top-notch, there’s no reason they won’t throw your name in the hat when the question is asked. Secondly, ask them to spread the word. When encountering a satisfied customer, ask them to tell all their friends. Ask them to submit a Google or Facebook review. You can hand them a referral card that gives them credit towards service for every referral. Keep in mind raving fans will often do this without incentive. They want to boast about the outstanding service they just had, but in case it doesn’t occur to them, you’ll need to ask. #2 A Winning Website When potential customers are visiting your website, what are they seeing? Is it all about car sales with the service department tucked neatly into the navigation menu? Is there clear messaging about the service department? Does the homepage have a clear call to action that encourages them to click through to the service page? These are questions you should ask your website developers. You also need to ensure the website is search engine optimized for the service department. Too often dealership websites are focused on sales and completely overlook the need to attract customers who are googling where to get their next oil change. #3 Google Maps Take just a minute, and google “oil change near me”. Chances are you’ll see every quick lube and independent auto repair shop within a 10 mile radius. It is very unlikely that you’ll see a dealership in the mix. Oil changes may not bring in the big bucks, but it’s not about the oil change transaction itself. It’s more about the long game. David Boyle wrote an article that covered oil changes and tire sales in the September/October issue of Fixed Ops Magazine. He explains that dealers price oil changes very competitively, perhaps at a loss, with a greater goal in mind. The goal is to earn a customer’s trust. It’s also to encourage them to return for future services. If it is worth losing a little profit to get a customer in for an oil change, why are dealers not popping up on maps with a google search for a nearby oil change? Prioritize this as it is marketing on cruise control once it is in place. #4 Email Newsletter Email is an automotive service marketing must for dealerships. As you’re gathering your customer's contact information, you can ask them to opt into your email newsletters. Be sure they know what’s in it for them other than another email that will see its way to the junk folder. Explain the offers they’ll receive when the newsletter hits their inbox. Discounts on oil changes and free carwashes with certain services are always good reasons to click open an email. Once they’ve entrusted you with their precious email address, make it worth their while. Not only should you include the great offers you promised, but the other content in your newsletter should draw their interest too. Include articles on maintenance, and always spotlight a team member. This allows your audience to get to know your team better. Don’t forget to write a compelling subject line. Why should they open your email? How will it benefit them to click? This is what the subject line should answer. It can be as simple as a “$20 off coupon inside.” If they know a $20 discount is sitting in there, you can bet that’ll be worth the open. #5 Social Media Marketing Ideas There are so many social media platforms out there, so which one is best for auto repair marketing? The simple answer is the one you use. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… the list goes on and on. To get a start on social media marketing and to be able to remain consistent with it, you need to find the one you’re most comfortable with, and learn to use it well. Create interesting content for your followers. Sure, you’ll need to post offers and invite them in from time to time, but most importantly, you need to keep them engaged. Once they’re engaged, you need to interact. If they comment on a post you shared about car maintenance, respond to that comment without jumping right into the ask. Answer questions about their vehicle if they have them, and then sum up the chat with “we’ll be happy to schedule you for an oil change or a (fill in the blank) service.” You should also look into paid social media ads. You can set your budget, select your target audience, and hone into a specific area. Conclusion Auto parts and service departments must market themselves independent from car sales in order to be effective. Create a routine that puts the simple steps into practice, so your service drive gets just as much (or more) traffic than the sales lot. Connect with TVI MarketPro3 for more automotive marketing info.
Jan 18, 2021 | 5 minute read
5 Ways to Increase Fixed Ops Market Share
Every successful dealership must be driven in a constant quest to increase fixed ops market share. Here are a few processes you can put into place that will not break the bank but will assist in accomplishing the goal of owning your backyard. Remain Relevant The best way to grow market share and take business from your competitors is to make sure you are up to date on how to stay relevant to the ever-changing customer. The struggle to consistently find new ways to engage your current or prospective customers is REAL. Mobile phones, email, social media, and SMS texting allow dealerships to communicate with their customers quickly and effectively. Make sure you do not get lost in the clutter and that the message to your clients will help in maintaining a positive relationship. Respond to customers Just a few years ago, customers would call dealerships and get a voicemail telling them that they would return the call within 24 hours. This practice was acceptable. NOT NOW! Customers today want instant replies. You must be quick in your responses, or they will move on to your competitor. Shoppers are increasingly loyal to the company that can fix their problem right now. Shop your competition and see how long it takes for them to respond, and make sure you are faster. Get Customer Feedback in Reviews According to a post by Bright Local, 86% of consumers look at online review sites of local businesses. 95% of those between the ages of 18-34 will check out your reviews. To maintain and ultimately gain market share, you will want to make sure that all your review sites are up to date and that customers are actively leaving 5-star reviews. Offer coupon incentives Think that coupons are a thing of the past? Think again. In a recent study, Inmar’s 2018 shopper behavior study found that 90% of consumers use coupons, and 83% say these types of incentives are a driver for changes in purchasing behavior. A successful coupon strategy is the best way to stay in front of your current customers while at the same time targeting your competitors. Be flexible With the ever-changing and busy society that we live in today, it is essential for automotive dealerships, especially the service departments, to be flexible. For example, most service drives close between 5-6 pm during the week. This can make it difficult for people who work a full-time job to visit you. Think about having one or two days a week where you keep the drive open later. This could differentiate you from your competitor and, at the same time, show customers that you are flexible. The process of trying to increase fixed ops market share is a continuous one. You can never stop trying to win new customers. After all, your competitors are probably trying to win your customers over right now. Visit TVI MarketPro3 for marketing tips and resources
Feb 4, 2020 | 2 minute read
Urban Legends about Dealership Service Departments
Customers get a better deal at quick lube shops. A "deal" in and of itself is open to interpretation. You get what you pay for, right? Regular oil changes are vital to maintaining the longevity of your vehicle, so why pass up dealership service departments? Why would you put your precious asset in the hands of people who are NOT guaranteed to have any automotive experience? Is it worth it just to save a few bucks? I say "hopes" of saving a few bucks because this is a misconception. Most of the time, dealerships offer amazing oil change specials. Or they even price match to their customers to get them to keep coming back. To learn about this type of special, make sure you visit the dealership's website. Continuously look in the mail for coupons that the service department sends out monthly. You can also visit Kelley Blue Book and click on Car Repair Pricing to get a good idea of dealership repair pricing near you. Going to the dealership takes longer than a quick lube shop. This used to be the case, but dealerships have evolved over the years. They now realize that their customers are busy. Customers don't have time to wait around while their car is being repaired. To accommodate the busy lives of their customers, most dealerships now provide loaner cars, shuttles, or even valet service. The best way to make sure you are not wasting time at the dealership is to set an appointment in advance and ask about loaner or valet services. Dealerships are going to try to sell me something that I do not need. Not every service advisor at the dealership is ethical. Dealerships hold their advisors to a much higher standard than those at a quick lube center. Generally, the manufacturers train the service advisors. These dealership professionals spent time and money vehicle education and the types of maintenance necessary to keep it operational. These automotive professionals answer to their customers, but they also answer to the general managers, owners of the dealership, and to the manufacturer. Their reward comes from providing exceptional customer service. Quick lube advisors do not have to be trained on specifics vehicles. Therefore, more times than not they will recommend unnecessary parts and services. Some quick lube chains have had to pay out fines for recommending unnecessary services to customers. Conclusion So, we debunked a few misconceptions about the dealership service departments. The bottom line is trust. If you trust the dealership to sell you a vehicle, then it is fair to say that you should trust those same people to keep it running smoothly. For dealership marketing information visit TVI MarketPro3.
Jan 29, 2020 | 2 minute read
Coupons Differentiate Dealers and Incentivize Consumers
All business owners, especially those in the automotive industry, are consistently trying to find new and innovative ways of attracting and retaining customers. This is critical to the success of any business. However, it’s very difficult at times to determine which marketing plan will reach the largest audience and at the same time generate the best results. While you may be worried that discounting your products or services will negatively impact your profits, the right incentives can help you increase sales while building a reliable customer base. In fact, a recent study by Valassis found that 90% of consumers use coupons. And 83% say coupons are a driver for changes in purchasing behavior. If you’re searching for ways to advertise and grow your business, a successful coupon strategy would be beneficial. Like all other forms of dealership marketing plans, the key is to make sure that your offers resonate with your audience. Recently, we discussed this topic with TVI-MarketPro3’s National Sales and Marketing Director, James Ayers. Read the transcript below for some great takeaways on what type of coupons work best for the Fixed Operations Department. What is the best offer for a service department print coupon? I would say that the coupons that drive customers in are those that offer something of value for free. For example, customers love free tire rotations. This service does not take a lot of time for the technicians. But it's a great value for the consumer. What’s going to drive a customer from their home to your service lane? You need to make sure the offer is desirable and not confusing. Offer services that anyone can understand, no matter the demographic. Oil changes and tire rotations are great fixes to include in your offers. And don't forget windshield wiper replacements and free car washes. These are all significant drivers to the service departments at dealerships. What is the most requested coupon for those that are searching digitally? Consumers who are searching for digital coupons are not that different from those who are using print. They all want the oil change, tire, and free loaner specials. What type of service offers would you suggest dealers avoid? Fixed operations departments should avoid coupons that customers cannot relate to. An example of this is a cooling system, brake system, or power steering flush. A typical customer cannot tell if they need a coolant flush, so avoid complex maintenance offers. What is the best service package a dealership should advertise? It truly depends on the make and model of the vehicle. Packages are hard to sell to consumers because one size does not fit all regarding automotive maintenance. If the offer is for a truck that has 70,000 miles, this might include an oil change, tire rotation, power steering flush, and replacement of the front and rear differential fluid. And not all trucks use conventional oil. Some trucks require more oil than others. Some trucks have directional tires, which are more of a challenge to rotate, and not all vehicles need differential service. This shows that packaging services together can sometimes be a difficult challenge. A TVI MarketPro3 Campaign Success Story I work with dealers all over the country. One time I was visiting a store in Florida that had just joined us. Two customers arrived while I was having a conversation with the the dealership team. Each had coupons in hand asking for service. These types of interactions are why I love doing what I do every day. You have many advertising sources available to you that will be successful in growing your business. Coupons are often an effective way to attract new business and increase your repeat customer base. But you should weigh the pros and cons and consider all your options before deciding on the best approach. Learn how TVI-MarketPro3 can help your fixed operations department. Schedule an appointment today.
Oct 29, 2019 | 3 minute read
Are you a VENDOR or PARTNER?
Have your clients ever referred to you as their vendor? Makes you feel a bit taken aback as you feel you are worthy of a much better title? This is an issue that plagues most salespeople or account executives who utilize a consultative approach to gaining business. The term "vendor" has a negative connotation for those who feel they go above and beyond. They provide the best product and/or service for clients, so it's sort of a double-edged sword. A salesperson promotes a product or service that customers need to grow their business. But they also have a financial interest in making sure they purchase from them and not the competitor. It's difficult to bridge the gap between selling something and being a consultant that provides much more than product knowledge. Be more than a salesperson Salespeople who work to provide a solid return for their clients, think of themselves as partners. If a business wants to be successful, they should seek out this type of salesperson and utilize their knowledge to gain even more insight into a specific industry. It's naïve to think of yourself as a partner if you only inform your clients about your products and services. A real partner provides clients with a wealth of knowledge about the industry. They keep them updated on their competition and their market, and they display exceptional customer service beyond the sale. Go beyond the sale A partner will not only provide clients with information, but they also develop an equal business stature with their customers. This type of relationship could take months or even years to build. It is a trusted working relationship that has many layers. If you desire to be more than just a "vendor" to your customers, then you must spend time doing research. You need product as well as industry knowledge to create that equal business stature. Building the relationship To build a lasting and impressive relationship, make sure you are attending industry functions locally as well as nationally. Learn about the competition. Gain knowledge about what makes them different than their competitors, and communicate effectively with your clients. Vast knowledge about your product or service will make you a vital part of your client's success. They will no longer consider you just a vendor. Connect with TVI-MarketPro3 to learn more about our partner relationships.
Oct 7, 2019 | 2 minute read
Sports Prepares Kids for the Business World
Whether football, volleyball, baseball, or any other sport, parents believe that participating in organized sports helps get the family out of the house, exercising, and socializing. Let's not forget that sports also prepare kids for the business world. Sports, in general, have many positive effects on children. Organized team sports provide them with skills that will aid them in all aspects of their adult lives. Let's talk about how sports prepares kids for the business world. Teamwork No team has ever been successful without collaborating, cooperating, and working together at achieving the goal. Each member must put aside some strengths they possess or dial back strong personalities for the betterment of the team. This can be difficult for kids, but learning how to navigate this at a young age creates success as adults. Being a team player in the business world requires that employees learn to collaborate and compromise with their co-workers. These people will most likely not have the same personality types. While it might be difficult at times, they learn that cooperation and compromise ultimately lead to team success. Healthy Competition A child will not win every competition or always be the best athlete on the team. But by experiencing loss and being exposed to other high-level athletes, a child will develop a healthy attitude towards competition. Conflict Resolution Phys.org studied two girls' soccer teams. They found that the girls' participation in soccer developed conflict resolution skills that they had not experienced previously. The girls learned how to effectively confront issues with other players and how to diffuse situations. Professor Holt said, "it's about encouraging the girls to deal with conflicts when they arise because those are growth experiences. Those things will transfer outside sports because that's what you've got to do when you start working." Self Confidence The CDC has reported that simply being physically active builds self-esteem. We are physical beings who are not meant to sit in front of a video game for several consecutive hours. If you're a physically active adult, you feel that sense of accomplishment in outdoing your last performance at the gym. Kids feel a similar way when they are learning new skills and succeed as a team during a game. Having high self-esteem and being self-confident is extremely important when entering the workforce. Self Discipline It's essential in life to learn how to train yourself to know your limits and goals. Then you must develop the self-discipline to put in the time needed to meet those goals. Multiple studies prove kids who participate in sports develop the self-discipline that translates to the classroom. If a young child is taught to set and achieve goals, the transition into the business world will be smooth sailing. There are countless other ways that team sports teach children the skills necessary in the business world. Hard work, determination, team bonding, or even accepting defeat, to name a few. The next time you are in the stands watching your child, remember what the game is teaching them about life.
Sep 20, 2019 | 3 minute read
Testaments from a TVI-MarketPro3 Team Member
Nick Shaffer, TVI MarketPro3 West Region Sales Director It's time for another edition of Testaments from a TVI-MarketPro3 Team Member. With the increase of job growth across the country, it is vital for small businesses to properly measure employee engagement in order to retain hard-working, driven, and positive employees. TVI-MarketPro3 is committed to creating a positive work environment for all team members. At the same time, TVI provides our partners with the best minds in the industry. Today we would like to introduce to you our Regional Sales Director, Nick Shaffer. What motivates you to come to work every day? I come to work every day, not only to provide for my family, but because I am blessed to love what I do, who I do it with, and who I work for. What do you do on your time off? I love to spend my free time mountain biking, cooking, working out and golfing. What is your favorite Movie? Book? Musician? And Superhero? I love the movie “Avenger's Endgame”, the book “A Farewell to Arms”, Metallica, and Captain America. Who is your role model and why? My role model is my future self in 10 years. I regularly try to envision exactly who I want to be 10 years from now as a husband, father, professional, and individual. As often as I can, I try to "zoom-out" from my day to day micro view and ensure that I'm working towards becoming that person. What is your favorite part about working at TVI MarketPro3? Everyone likes the feeling of doing something they are good at. In fact, Gallup studies show that this is the #1 driver of job satisfaction. Feeling authentically appreciated for the work you do comes in at #2. TVI-MarketPro3 meets both factors in a big way. What are your future personal goals? Play a big role in getting TVI over the 10m revenue benchmark in 2020. Personally, I want to enable my wife to achieve her goals, coach my sons to continued success in football and develop the fitness level needed to compete in mountain bike racing. What do you think makes you different than your co-workers? Easy, I am OCD. What do you spend most of your time doing every day and is it fulfilling? I spend 50% of my time analyzing the Fixed Ops business growth results for dealers I personally serve to make sure they are getting the very best ROI from our unique marketing strategies. Often, I learn of or develop an idea or strategy that I believe can move the needle. It doesn’t matter to me if it will move the needle 0.1% or 10%, I pursue it with equal determination. The other 50% of my time is spent bringing along my teammates, so they can perform at a level that exceeds mine. I try to surround myself with highly talented, highly compassionate, highly driven folks who want to take my job someday. Teaching them is both fulfilling for me, and it drives me to continuously improve. Nick Shaffer is a respected Fixed Ops marketing professional who prides himself on his continuous successes in the industry. Follow us now to keep seeing Testaments from a TVI-MarketPro3 Team Member. TVI Marketpro3 is an exciting and ever-changing company that focuses on teamwork and providing the best fixed ops marketing plans for our partners.
Sep 17, 2019 | 3 minute read
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