May 3, 2021
Jade Terreberry, Director of Dealer Sales Analytics, Autotrader
If you’ve been keeping up with our Autotrader Dealer Advantage Blog, you know we’ve got our eyes on the ever-shifting shopping and buying expectations of today’s consumer. Today, let’s take a wider view and discuss opportunities to grow fixed ops market share and discuss how fixed ops and variable ops are becoming even more closely intertwined in today’s market.
Let’s start with the variable operations side of your dealership for a moment: the blocking and tackling of merchandising your inventory through online listings, enhancing the path to purchase through digital retailing and communication platforms that make it easier for a shopper to get the details about a vehicle and get the conversation started, just to name a few.
Now, layer in the tools that push your shoppers even further down the funnel: facilitating a test drive from home, products that can extend your inventory into outside markets and deliver sold vehicles across the country, and advanced retargeting advertising solutions.
Many dealerships are offering the “ultimate” shopping and buying experience that car buyers are looking for. The only problem with this picture is that most of these innovations are focused on everything up until the car leaves the lot.
That’s not to say that you aren’t thinking ahead to the value of a lifetime customer. You’ve undoubtedly got tools and processes in place to foster and leverage your satisfied customers.
But many dealerships still look at variable and fixed ops as two separate arms of the dealership. And while their sales approach is changing to meet consumer needs, their fixed-ops strategy may be lagging behind.
There’s a big opportunity to start thinking about their combined value and to apply similar strategies to both, from a consumer standpoint and a merchandising standpoint.
To local and loyal customers, you’re a one-stop-shop. Foster and cultivate those revenue opportunities.
It’s more critical than ever to have a long-term strategy in place to ensure your buyers become service customers. If you’re not capitalizing on “captive audience” of a recent sale, a competitor down the street just might grab that long-term revenue stream.
If your sales messaging and advertising is all about speed, convenience, transparency and value, why wouldn’t a shopper expect the exact same from your service department? Are you delivering all of that to ensure that those who buy from you stick with your service department?
Fixed ops customers = potential variable ops market share.
Consumers’ expectations have changed drastically, and COVID-19 has done nothing but accelerate the demand for efficient digital process for purchasing and servicing vehicles. So, over time, more and more consumers are going to purchase out of market. Whether a few hundred miles away or from across the country, that’s just how our industry is evolving.
The advent of sitting on your couch and having your car delivered is here. It’s happening. But chances are slim that those buyers will drive 100, 200 or 500+ miles to the dealership they bought from for service. And that’s where you come in.
Capitalizing on this segment of consumers is key to long-term profitability. Let’s get them in your service bays. Then, don’t stop there. If they’ve purchased a vehicle from miles away, but you win their service business and develop a great relationship, who do you think they’ll turn to when they think about trading in their vehicle? Look at the lifetime value of those fixed ops customers, and you’ll set your store up for success.
But wait, there are more segments to conquer.
Vehicles today are computers on wheels. Because of that, gone are the days of owners getting under the hood addressing their own maintenance needs. The increased technical and diagnostic capabilities that you have within your service bay should be leveraged as much as possible.
And consider this: with over 7 million visits to the Service & Repair Guide experience on KBB.com,? it’s evident that the “offline to online” shift of car buying has found its way into the service and repair side of the industry.
We’ve seen a large increase in fixed-ops profitability thanks to recalls and warranty work. That’s only further solidified by an average of over 1.7 million consumers? visiting the Service & Repair Guide experience on KBB.com each month. That includes over 300K recall checks (by VIN or and license place) each month.? Consumers want to get an idea of their vehicles’ service and repair costs, understand common maintenance they should be prepared for, and check for open recalls. With so many avenues to capture this audience, it’s more important than ever to maximize your fixed-ops business.
As demand grows, so should your advertising strategies and offerings.
As the fixed-ops world keeps evolving, it’s crucial that your store is positioned to meet growing and changing demand.
In our next blog post, Kevin LeSage will provide actionable steps you can start taking right away to adjust your service experience to meet growing customer expectations, increase engagement across your entire store and maximize your bottom line.