Independent car repair shops want those dealership customers and they mean business. Check out some of those “local car repair shop” websites! The websites are sophisticated, informative, and they are dynamic. (We don’t pick sides; we just gravitate to the most aggressive shop, dealership or independent)

I am extremely impressed with how aggressive Independent shops have become with digital, creative, and direct mail marketing. They are even using today’s advanced complex variable data technology to really deliver a “one to one” personal RELEVANT message. They have done their homework and if dealerships want to compete with them, retain customers, and grab new business, they need to first understand that it’s more competitive than ever before.

With 100% respect, visit most new car dealer websites and click on “Service Department, it is just ugly. (Some people clearly are not on commission and that’s a mistake) Just Google and visit 10 car dealerships and click on “Service.”

With 258 million registered cars on the road, the average vehicle age is at a record high 11.6 years old and is not slowing down. That means millions of vehicle with 100,000 miles plus. (Let’s not forget all the orphans! Oldsmobile, Saturn, Pontiac, Etc.)

Independents Hammer that Car Dealership Service Departments are:

• More Expensive. (They are smaller, hence, less expensive)
• Not the only place for maintenance during the Warranty period.
• Not the only ones privy to technical and repair information.
• Not as concerned with customer service and satisfaction.
• Have the same Computer Systems and Records.
• Not the only ones getting Manufacture Tech Service Bulletins.
• Don’t have that “Personal Touch.”
• Not the only ones with Certified Techs like ASE, and so on.
• Big… (you never who will work on your car that day)

Car dealerships have many advantages but few utilize them. Yes, recalls, warranty work and “just-out-of-warranty” work helps car dealers with some business. But visit any car dealership website, and you will rarely find much more than a few coupons, if that.

This is such a missed opportunity. A happy LOYAL Service customer will surly buy a new car as well, would they not? What about referrals? Do you think a happy service customer would refer friends and family to a dealership (for service or to buy) as well?

I used to think the sales department should target conquest and the competitions customers. But Fixed Ops may have a bigger opportunity to gain new customers. Let’s face it, more people fix than buy.

Both Dealerships and Independent shops have to find that competitive edge. They have to find ways to separate think diffthemselves from the pack. Discounts and coupons are great but if a customer is strapped, it may not matter. Help customers pay for their product and/or service and you will have that edge. There are creative new solutions that go beyond “accepting VISA and M/C.”


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