Consumers think long-term when shopping for a car. The reputation of your entire dealership – not just your sales experience – factors into every car sold, and the perception of your service department is a major influence on customers.

Car buyers want to know how you’ll service their vehicle after the sale, yet most dealerships don’t promote their service departments online, where consumers are seeking out service information. This leaves consumers in the dark about the value you provide and might mean you’re missing out on potential long-term customers.

Building Your Reputation Online

For years, automotive marketers have held to the notion that the car shopping process is a funnel; consumers start with a wide list of options, and then gradually eliminate vehicles from consideration until there’s a single correct choice. In reality, consumers take a far less linear path to get from consideration to purchase,

Throughout this journey, shoppers rely heavily on a variety of research sources to help make their decision, including online reviews. They sift through available options, adding and eliminating cars as they go, and they examine customer feedback on both the sales staff and the service department. Consumers want to balance the short-term logistics of the sale with their long-term expectations for service and repair.

Reviews and Techinical Expertise Drive Business

According to a recent Harris Poll, nearly two-thirds of in-market car shoppers indicate that a service department’s reputation is a factor when choosing where to purchase a vehicle. Moreover, 57 percent of in-market car shoppers say they would likely seek out service department reviews before purchasing a vehicle, and only 10 percent of in-market buyers said they would not consider service reviews before buying from your dealership.

It’s also important to note that because dealerships offer technicians who are experts on particular makes and models, they have an advantage over national chains. According to a GfK Research report, consumers are willing to spend 10 to 15 percent more for service at a dealership, especially for specialized repairs where dealership expertise is at a premium.

Mobile in Service

Because shoppers use multiple devices when shopping for a vehicle and when looking for an automotive service provider, it’s imperative for dealerships to incorporate a multi-channel marketing strategy, connecting their messages to reach shoppers on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Be sure to give your dealerships service department the attention it deserves on both your mobile-friendly dealership website, as well as on relevant external mobile marketing channels, like your dealership profile page on Cars.com.

By understanding how consumers move from initial consideration to purchase, you’ll be in a better position to leverage all aspects of your dealership’s reputation—including the service department.  Doing so will put you in position to win new business and retain off-warranty customers.

For more tips on how to drive service at your dealership, check out our service marketing ebook “Scheduled Maintenance.”

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