How to Leverage Data to Create More Service Department Opportunity

Leverage your dealership data to maintain your edge, beat out independent service providers, and create new opportunities within your service bay


You worked hard to build your relationships with customers—you know their cars inside and out. Naturally, they’ll come to you when they need service and repairs, right?

Well, according to a recent study by Cox Automotive, you may be losing more customers to independent repair shops than you think. In fact, the study shows franchised dealers are getting fewer than one-third of all repair orders.

So, how can dealerships work to reverse this trend? The answer is simple—leverage your data. Specifically, dealerships should use customer and inventory data to create personalized communications that lead to new opportunities for your service department.

Craft customized communications

Customer data can help dealerships craft personalized communications that cut through the noise and outperform traditional modes of advertising. Think about it—your dealership has a lot of detailed information about your customers, and those details impact their decisions regarding vehicle service and repair.

Kendall Billman, an AutoAlert executive with expertise in data mining, explained it this way: “With the ability to offer a broad spectrum of consumer data insights, including previous purchases, mileage search parameters, repairs, warranties, and much more, dealership professionals in multiple departments are able to predict customer behavior and consistently provide the best service.”

Customer communications can be personalized in a variety of ways. On the most basic level, you can use variable data to address your customer by name.

As another data expert, Steve Cottrell, CEO of Authenticom, says, dealerships can use customer information “to develop a pattern of miles driven, and then develop well-timed marketing offers for routine maintenance.”

Include vehicle-specific information

Personalizing your communications to show that you know your customers and the cars they drive can also help propel a positive customer experience that can benefit your dealership beyond the service department.

In fact, according to Cox Automotive’s Maintenance & Repair Study, 85% of customers reported that their experiences with the service department influenced their likelihood of buying their next vehicle from that dealership.

You know what kind of car your customer drives, and you know that car’s specific maintenance requirements—use that information to your advantage to offer the best customer experience possible.

Hyper-target your advertising

You can also use customer data to help guide your digital advertising strategy and ensure that you’re reaching your customers where they are. Social media platforms and other digital advertising tools now make it possible to target members of your audience one-on-one by using personal identifiers like an email address.


Part of an effective targeting strategy, of course, is the timing of your messages. According to Billman, by using big data, “Dealerships can target their communications and have the right conversations with consumers at exactly the right time—essentially leveraging their insights to guide them toward the best in-market opportunities.”

Given your previous transactions with your customers, your dealership is the natural choice when they need service. By leveraging your dealership data, you can maintain your edge, beat out independent service providers, and create new opportunities within your service bay.

Kurt Olnhausen is AVP of service operations at Dealertrack DMS.

Kurt Olnhausen

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