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Fixed Ops - Your Dealership vs. The Independents - Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

I raised two similar questions at the beginning of this Fixed Ops series.

Question #1

Where should I take my car for maintenance?” My friends tell me that I’m paying too much if I take it to a dealership, but how do I know if that’s true or not?

Question #2

I bought my truck in Helena, MT, but then moved to Reno, NV a few years later. I then moved again in 2020 from Reno to Carson City. Every time I move, I’m faced with the same question, “In my new location, which shop can I trust with my vehicle?

Simply put, which shop do I trust to give me a fair price, and which shop do I trust to get the work done right? To answer this, I need to know what my options are. So what does a quick Google search say?

Before I give you my results, run the following test. In an incognito/private browser run the following searches:

  • “Oil change near me”

  • “Service repair shops near me”

“And the survey says …”

My search results for “Service repair shops near me” came back with zero dealerships, and my search results for “Oil change near me” only included one local dealership.

If you are a dealership in my local area, what three questions should you be asking yourself?

1. How do we make sure that our Service Department is getting found in customer search results?

You no doubt put a lot of effort into marketing your sales operations to ensure that the vehicles that you are selling will be found by potential customers. What about marketing for your fixed operations? Oftentimes we see a lot less effort being placed on fixed ops despite the benefits that can come from doing so.

As someone who dabbles in the dark arts of marketing, I understand how much work goes into creating the right content. Fortunately, you don’t have to completely recreate the wheel. Take the design principles from your sales pages and apply them to your Service pages.

The reality, though, is that this piece is not a simple task. Most dealerships have poor content that is typically cookie-cutter rather than unique. Creating the right content and applying the right conversion tools for your fixed operations is challenging. For this reason, we recommend Fixed Ops Digital. They understand what it takes to make a dealership’s Service pages unique and function as an effective online sales tool.

Once a potential customer finds you in their search results, then what?

2. How do you help those who are not already your customers to trust you with their vehicles?

Getting noticed is only the first step. Independents (Pep Boys, Jiffy Lube, Walmart, etc.) often win by their perceived value and convenience. They are marketing themselves as being less expensive and faster than your dealership. Between their marketing and the advice from my friends, the independents seem to have an upper hand in gaining my business.

So, what’s your value proposition?

Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” - Seth Godin

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” A dealership’s value proposition should be based on quality and trust. Showcase your use of OEM parts, OEM fluids, Certified Techs, and having the right equipment. Be the authority in your market. How do you build all of this into your website? Let’s go back to the service page examples from our previous article.

With Example A, when you click on the “Oil Change” service, there is a description of why changing your oil is important, along with some general recommendations. This type of information can be extremely helpful, especially for those that don’t know a lot about cars.

On the other hand, example B only provides a list of the options available for a specific vehicle. It feels like it was designed by a Service Department tech who was primarily interested in selecting the required part or service as quickly as possible. How does this educate your customers? How does this increase your visibility with online searches? Unfortunately, it doesn't do either of those things.

Providing customers with an educational online experience is critical to gaining better engagement. Your goal should be to help them understand how your services will save money in the long run (e.g. Alignment service will save the tires from wearing out too quickly). By doing so, you build trust with potential customers.

  1. How do you prove that your prices are competitive?

Put your fixed operations pricing on your website. According to Xtime Market Research 2016, 71% of customers are most concerned with transparent cost estimates when setting appointments. For this reason, clear and transparent pricing is extremely important to prevent customer defection (like me listening to my friends and going to an independent shop).

Not clear or transparent: $10 Off or 5% Off - Off of what?

Why should you be concerned with customer defection? Because this often happens with late ownership services (e.g. transmissions, brakes, tires, alignments, etc.). As a customer’s vehicle is coming out of warranty, or their prepaid maintenance has run out, they start looking for a good deal. This is when independents often steal your business. And once they win the late ownership services, they are probably going to win the customer over for general services as well.

This is also a big deal because late ownership services are a key area if you want to increase revenue and customer loyalty. They also provide you with an opportunity to sell the customer a newer vehicle since most customers buy their next vehicle from the dealerships where they get their vehicles serviced.

So, how is your dealership doing against the independents? Are your service pages showing up on first-page search results? Are your Service pages building trust and providing value?

If your answer is “No,” now’s your opportunity to start generating more revenue from your fixed operations. Whether you use Fixed Ops Digital, do-it-yourself, or hire another marketing service, aim to provide a unique and quality experience for your Service pages.

Now that we’ve addressed your digital presence, our next article will focus on the customer experience at your dealership.

If you’re interested in learning more about Fixed Ops Digital, click on the link to visit their website. And be sure to tell them that you heard about them from the “mind-blowing Fast Company article.” (Please be sure to include “mind-blowing” in your description ;-)


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