Improve Customer Perception to Increase Service Revenue

“How do your customers feel?”

It’s a question you’ve likely considered, and one with a very important answer.

Feelings drive perceptions. Perception rules reality, shapes beliefs and thoughts, and drives customer behavior. How your customers feel about your business directly impacts the number of vehicles you service at any given time.

So back to the crucial question: How do your customers feel? And more specifically, how do they feel about your dealership?

Apparently, customer perceptions of dealership service aren’t the strongest.

A recent DMEautomotive study found that 50% of customers believe aftermarket shops excel in convenience compared to other store types, while only 34% of customers felt this way about dealership service departments.

Similarly, 52% believe aftermarket shops complete service faster than other stores, exceeding dealership perceptions by 18 percentage points. Additionally, 59% of consumers expect dealerships to offer less competitive pricing compared to other service centers.

On a more positive note, 53% of consumers expect dealerships to offer higher quality service than other stores.

Consumers’ perceptions of dealerships are showing in their absence from the service lane. The dealership service interval—the span of time between service appointments—has increased by 4.2 days from 2013 to 2014, costing dealers an average $85,650 annually in service revenue.

To attack consumers’ predominantly negative perceptions and bring them back into the service lane, dealers must be proactive. Customers pay attention to what others say about you, and what you say about you.

So, make sure your messages promote the high-quality services your customers already expect from you, while playing up the aspects that often make them stray to aftermarket shops (convenience, pricing, speed, etc.).

How? Consider your customers.

After all, 34% of consumers surveyed reported being more likely to use Internet resources prior to taking their vehicles in for service. In fact, 47% visited the store’s website prior to their service visit. Another 33% researched common prices for automotive services, while 26% researched specific vehicle services. Finally, 23% read online reviews of automotive service stores.

In order to reach these tech-savvy customers, dealers must maintain a strong presence in the digital sphere. Several dimensions can factor into this presence, including:

  1. Maintaining a strong, up-to-date dealership website. Take a short video of your service personnel performing basic services to display their expertise to prospective customers, and post it to your website. Update your website regularly with new deals and offers that bring customers to your store. Offer transparent price points, and display prices from your closest competitors, provided yours are competitive with theirs.
  2. Going mobile. 65% of adults have smartphones, and customers with a dealer-branded mobile app make 25% more service appointments. So if your dealership isn’t equipped with an app, you’re missing out on valuable business. Through a mobile app, your customers can view your service hours, instantly schedule service appointments, and even pay their repair order with a tap of their smartphone screen. Offering a mobile app to your customers not only connects you to them, but makes their life a little more convenient.
  3. Driving positive reviews. Incentivize your customers to speak highly of your dealership through promotions (e.g., “Submit a review and be entered to win free oil changes for a year.”). Utilize free resources like a Google+ page, Facebook profile, and other social media platforms. Monitor these accounts and post to them regularly. Respond quickly to customer concerns and queries to ensure your customers feel heard.
  4. Getting creative. You can create customer conveniences in ways that don’t entail moving to a new location. Offer extended service hours, bundle certain services together to save time, offer shuttles, and so on.

By providing customers with experiences that challenge their preconceptions of what service at the dealership can be, you will create loyal customers and watch the service dollars flood in.

Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer of DMEautomotive, the industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing that provides a range of marketing services to the biggest and most innovative automotive organizations in the industry. For more information, email


Mike Martinez


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