Over a five-day stretch, thousands of dealers, thought leaders and allied industry members met at the Driving Sales Executive SummitJ.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable and Digital Dealer Conference  in Las Vegas to discuss dealership best practices and industry trends. Presentations and workshops covered a range of topics, from search to reputation management, with a focus on mobile and service being central throughout the events.

Jared Hamilton kicking off the DrivingSales Executive Summit

A Return to Service

Jared Hamilton, Founder of DrivingSales, kicked-off the DrivingSales Executive Summit with a strong message on the opportunity that lies within the dealership service department. Though new-car sales are at a five year high, Hamilton cautioned not to mistake a return to normalcy with true growth, urging dealerships to renew their efforts to bolster profitability in fixed operations. Citing compressed margins and longer service intervals, Hamilton went on to share that the seemingly small increase of 5 days in the average time between service appointments – rising from 140 to 145 days between visits this year – has a staggering economic impact, costing dealerships an average of $159,000 in annual revenue. But even under such conditions, Hamilton argued that with a the right mindset and marketing strategies in place, dealerships still have a huge opportunity to grow profitability in fixed operations. Among his recommendations, Hamilton stressed using online reviews to support service, noting that over 60% of drivers research online service recommendations prior to visiting a dealership.

Growing Mobile Expectations

Danny Sullivan, Founder of SearchEngineLand.com, and Dylan Swift, Director of National Marketing at Yelp, echoed Hamilton’s take on online reviews, connecting reviews to changes in mobile shopping behavior. Swift cited that approximately 59% of searches on Yelp are via a mobile device, while Sullivan stressed the growing importance of mobile search, as it connects to real-world actions – i.e. visiting a dealership. To accommodate for shifting mobile trends, many speakers insisted on developing a true mobile strategy that reaches beyond just having a mobile website. By implementing simple mobile-friendly practices, such as ensuring that emails are viewable on smart devices and making location and contact information easily accessible across mobile platforms, dealerships can make the most of their opportunities with mobile shoppers.

How does your dealership promote its service department and engage with mobile shoppers? Share you best practices in the comments section below.