DD3 – Maximizing Automotive Digital Marketing ROI
The next session that I attended would have been great for many people, but I was not one of them. Don Reed of Dealer Pro started by cautioning dealerships from adopting a serious automotive digital marketing strategy without first assessing their organizational and foundational capacity. In other words, if you aren’t staffed properly or the staff that you have is underperforming, forget about the people that aren’t in your shop and focus on the opportunity walking through the door. This is a topic that I agree with and persistently advocate in my own 20 group meetings. Unfortunately, the presentation reverted to what makes a strong foundation on which to grow your Fixed Operations with digital marketing (a subject with which I am pretty knowledgeable) rather than giving insight into successful Fixed Ops marketing campaigns (which is what I thought was going to be presented). Since the information presented is still crucial to running successful Service and Parts Departments I will recount it here. But just so you know, we provide Service and Parts training as well….
Reed discussed three rules for building profitable Fixed Operations: First, you must evaluate your capacity for growth. If your technicians are already completely productive or if you aren’t staffed properly for increase traffic, any efforts you make with digital marketing will flop. Reed looks for 12-15 Retail and Warranty ROs per service advisor per day, which seems like a pretty close comparison to our benchmark of nine or ten retail ROs per service advisor per day. This is essential because a service advisor who doesn’t have time for customers is not likely to build relationships that will keep bringing customers back. By measuring technician productivity (rather than efficiency) you can determine if you have capacity in the back of the shop. Basically, you should have as many technicians as you have stalls and the technicians should be at least 110% productive.
Assuming you have the proper staff to accommodate an increase in traffic, the second rule is to train your staff for growth. Advisors should be prepared to welcome new visitors and have a strict process in place to emphasize the positive customer experience at your store. You should have a clear expectation for outbound phone calls and a schedule and script for calling customers. Reed pointed out that most advisors are terrible on the phone and you should have an appointment coordinator. I don’t disagree that most advisors are terrible on the phone and that you likely have room for an appointment coordinator. However, many advisors are perfectly capable of performing well on the phone, they just never get the proper training! They shouldn’t be quoting door rates and if they are going to be quoting a particular job they should be 100% sure that is actually the problem. Just like in sales, advisors should be running a needs analysis in person rather diagnosing repair work on the phone.
The third rule is to track performance daily, something that we highlight often. Whiteboards should be used for every productive staff member, metrics should be clearly understood by everyone and expectations should be clear. When performance is measured, performance improves!
There were a couple thoughts on websites and digital marketing sprinkled into the session as afterthoughts, and they were certainly worth mentioning. Dealer websites should have an interactive maintenance schedule and the capability to set appointments (not just request an appointment). Having a better online focus on the maintenance schedule makes perfect sense as stores in general need to have more focus on this key sales tool. The growth in the automotive service industry will continue to be in light repairs and maintenance, and dealerships need to have plenty of mid-level techs to make your efforts here profitable. By simply going over the OEM recommended maintenance (no selling involved), Reed suggested that you would increase by 0.2 hours per RO. He also suggested that online appointments sell more per RO than advisors. These stats may or may not be backed by solid research but I wouldn’t doubt them. Sometimes you need to just let the customer look at a menu and tell you what they need, rather than getting in their way!