It’s completely understandable that auto dealership leaders want to increase traffic in their service drives. In a flat new vehicle sales market, service departments play two critical roles for long-term dealership success.
The first, as always, is revenues: Tickets from service drives and other fixed ops functions keep the lights on when the new car showroom isn’t as busy as the sales manager would like.
The second is as a source of service-not-sold conquest prospects. We’ve talked at length about the importance of the service drive in the conquest process and how our Market EyeQ gives dealers invaluable tools and insights to activate service customers as sales prospects. (How valuable? Based on the experience of our dealer partners, their 55 percent activation rate of service-not-sold customers into sales prospects is four times that of the rest of the industry.)
When weighing your options to invest in marketing your dealership’s service drive, consider this stat: According to the Cox Automotive 2018 Service Industry Study, 74% of buyers who had their vehicle serviced by the dealership of purchase said they were likely to return to that dealership for their next purchase.
So, how do you drive more traffic to your service department? We have answers to help you with service ticket revenues today or new car sales revenues tomorrow, or to help your service department become a focus of your efforts to attract new customers.
In this post, we’ll discuss the following creative marketing ideas for your car dealership’s service drive:
Predict service success
One of the greatest advances in marketing was when companies realized they could use data about individual consumers to identify and predict which were the best prospects for their products or services and target them with marketing materials. This became known as “database marketing,” and it spawned entire industries.
In the modern age, the challenge for marketers is no longer getting data on prospects. Rather, the challenge is there’s so much data available that it’s long past the ability of any human to absorb, digest and make informed decisions from it all.
That’s where analysis-based marketing comes into play, powered by artificial intelligence-based analytics tools that can digest massive amounts of data, identify patterns and traits that would be indistinguishable by humans and deliver actionable projections and suggestions.
For instance, Mastermind’s predictive marketing dealership solutions are powered in part by IHS Markit’s demographic data from 197 million households, three billion ownership records and 650 million vehicle records. But when it comes time to develop a marketing campaign to identify the best prospects for service department offers, your team isn’t opening the database of 197 million owners – or even two or three million owners in a metro area. Rather, they’re being presented with a ranked list of the prospects within your service radius who are most likely to be open to that specific offer, generated by Mastermind’s Behavior Prediction Score® technology from the information in IHS Markit’s records and a variety of other public and proprietary data sets that have information relevant to automotive consumer behavior.
Connect with customers
We’ve talked before about car dealership digital marketing best practices, from what you say to how you say it and where you deliver it to your audiences. Recently, we explored the rising trend of voice search and what it means for how you structure your website and other digital marketing platforms.
All creative marketing strategies for your dealership’s service drive end up coming down to the simple fact that you need to have enough insights into your prospective customer that you connect with them in the way that’s most appropriate and effective for them. Are they more likely to engage with print materials mailed to their home, to social media advertising, video content, e-mail outreach or even a phone call?
Making this even more complicated is the speed in which the automotive shopping experience and associated dealership marketing landscape is changing. For instance, the number of consumers searching Google for specific SUV models increased by more than 90 percent between 2016 and 2018. If your dealership’s marketing strategy and tactics are set in stone, you’ll quickly be falling behind the competition.
Sell the meaning of service
It’s a question as old as auto dealers: How do you sell an automotive service to customers? One way to do it effectively is to sell what the service means to the customer, rather than make the common mistake of trying to sell its features. Especially in a consumer environment (as opposed to B2B), customers aren’t buying based on product features. Instead, they’re buying on what those features will do for them, or what that means to them. Yes, you need to share what your service drive will do for your customers’ vehicles – but more importantly, you need to make them want the benefits of those services.
In marketing-speak, that’s known as “Features-Benefits-Meaning” or “Features-Benefits-Value” marketing. And while it might seem an unusual way to think about your marketing, it’s something you can do very easily by simply asking yourself why a customer should care about what you’re offering – and then leading with that.
It’s also important to keep it simple. Research from the Corporate Executive Board shows that in the crowded, information-dense environment in which we live, consumers value marketing messages that are simple and easy to understand.
Here’s a quick example of how to market your dealership’s service department: t:
In this example, many dealers would lead with “Free 25-point inspection” as the headline on the mailer or advertisement in a feature-first model. Consider how much more powerful a mailer would be that combined predictive marketing with a meaning-first message to connect with a headline along the lines of, “FREE: Peace of mind to keep your 2014 Ford Explorer on the road for years to come.”
For dealerships trying to market their service drive during COVID-19 disruptions, we’ve crafted these call and email templates, tailored to empower your staff to effectively prospect while remaining empathetic and sensitive to your customers’ needs.
If you’re looking to get more service tickets written and more conquest prospects out of your service drive, Mastermind’s predictive marketing and Market EyeQ sales platform are the answer. Contact us today for a free demonstration.