Keeping the service bays full along with a constant flow of customers in the service drive is key to the profitability of any dealership. Many dealers choose a predictable retention-marketing strategy—coupons, service reminders, etc.—to keep their customers coming in and to entice any that may have gone missing. Because past generations are accustomed to these more traditional forms of communication—phone calls, direct mail pieces, and so on—these strategies have been working, to a degree.
The current generation of vehicle shoppers grew up in a much different world, however: one with an abundance of cell phones, iPads, and lightning-fast Internet. They have instant access to information and prefer fast and constant connectivity with their family and friends via text messaging, apps, and social networking. They have never had to expend much effort to shop different dealers for the best price or service.
Meet the millennials.
Millennials are used to living in a world in which they can buy most things online in a matter of seconds. They are impatient and don’t like waiting. They want information fast and get irritated if they have to expend much effort to obtain it. They are price-shoppers, but will pay a premium for quality and convenience.
These shoppers can be a challenge as they have grown up surrounded by cynicism and mistrust toward car dealers. Because of this inherent mistrust, websites and buying platforms full of information and pricing transparency have quickly proliferated.
Reliability and consistency are still of value to millennials. Most would still rather have their vehicle serviced at a franchised dealer instead of an independent—at least while their vehicle is under warranty. They will also shell out for convenience and peace of mind, which can be seen in the increased popularity of service contracts. This trend provides an advantage that gives more time to build trust and value in dealership service: These millennials have committed to service their vehicle at your dealership in exchange for fixed maintenance costs wrapped into car payments.
Millennials are seeking better experiences from all businesses. Communicating with these customers via their preferred channels, like text messaging and social media, is very important. The more innovative businesses have capitalized on this and use technology to better service this demanding new generation. For example, retail giant Amazon.com sends tracking updates for packages via texts.
As technology continues to transform the retail process, millennials will demand similar experiences from dealerships. In the past, consumers were quite satisfied gaining access to information—tracking, order-status updates, etc.—by visiting your website. Now, that isn’t enough. Millennials are expecting you deliver that information to them, rather than having to expend effort retrieving it themselves.
Trust is a key element to winning—and keeping—the service business of millennials, and can only be accomplished through consistency, transparency, and the use of updated technology that provides the experience they demand. Therefore you should consider updating your processes and technologies so as to best service this fast-growing segment.
Rich Holland is Managing Director of AutoPoint, a leading platform that drives improvement in auto dealer fixed operations. As a frequent speaker on the future of automotive dealership service, Rich believes in the “adapt or die” theory of innovation. He is a recognized expert in information technologies and how to create customer loyalty through digital excellence. He brings more than 30 years of diverse experience to AutoPoint.0
Latest posts by Rich Holland
- Service and Millennials: The Keys to Winning Their Business - March 2, 2015