You Can Lead a Horse to Water…But Can you Make Him Want to Drink?


I had an epiphany the other day…the number one concern people have when doing business with an automobile dealership is that they are going to be taken advantage of. In general, people are afraid of the car buying process and, even more so, when they bring their vehicles in for service. My epiphany concerns the latter.
By finding ways to minimize fear and uncertainty in the service department, you can significantly increase your business. It’s that simple, but where do you start? Your website, of course!
With just a few simple steps you can not only lead the horse to water (visit your website), but also dramatically increase the likelihood that it will drink (set an appointment to visit your service department).
Statistically, 83 percent of customers who buy from a dealership do not return the vehicle to that dealership’s service department after the sale. That is a lot of lost service opportunity for a store. A sure- fire way to increase service traffic off of your sold units (and capture back some of that 83 percent) is to drive these people to your website and remind them of the benefits of servicing their vehicles with you. Here are a few recommendations:
·         Forty-eight hours after the sale, have an email sent from the service department manger introducing his department and directing the customer to the website for all future service needs.
·         Provide sold customers an online incentive to visit your service department. For instance, provide that first oil change at a discounted rate or for free, offer a free car wash, etc. In other words, make it worth their while to come back.
·         Remember service clinics? When was the last time you had one at your dealership? What a perfect way to get customer vehicles covered while explaining the new way you do business—online.
·         Have a dedicated web page exclusively representing your service department; better yet invest a little money in a service only website. Divert a few bucks from your ad budget to drive traffic to your service department. After all isn’t it your service department that keeps your dealership afloat during stormy weather?
·         Make sure that you have a live chat option so that visitors can ask questions as they navigate through your service page or site.
·         Create an intuitive experience—an experience that gives the visitor a sense you know the vehicle they are driving as well as the preventative care it requires to be well-maintained.
·         Perhaps use a Virtual Service Consultant—when a customer visits your service website and puts his or her information in to start an investigative or appointment setting process, provide manufacturer maintenance recommendations and/or dealer recommendations and services for their specific vehicle.
·         Create a fear-relieving experience for your service “shopper” by posting awards, testimonials, and community involvement information, along with printable coupons and incentives to visit your store.
·         Provide a comparative price schedule for regular maintenance needs. For instance create a matrix that outlines, oil change, tire rotation, brakes, A/C checks etc. and a list of local aftermarket shops/competitors such as Midas, Firestone, and Jiffy Lube. Give your shoppers the comparative information they need so they don’t have to leave your site and possibly never return.
·         Do not be afraid to quote a price. We overcame this fear with car shoppers and we need to do the same with our service shoppers.
It is time that you dismiss the perception consumers have regarding your dealership’s service department. Your dealership’s advisers, writers, techs, and mechanics are highly trained and more qualified than the aftermarket place down the street. It is time that you take back what you once gave away by leading the horses back to the water and making them want to drink it. You can most cost effectively do that starting with your internet marketing. Make these tweaks today, and watch your service appointments start to increase tomorrow.
Dave Page is the director and co-owner of Dealer e Process, LLC., founded in 2007. For more information please visit or call 866-606-7916.




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