We are in the throes of winter, and the unexpected can happen when it comes to your vehicle – a flat tire, broken heat, a noise that sounds like… you know, a spring (boing boing!) – and you need to get it fixed.  But where do you go and how do you do it?  Consumers are going online to answer those questions.  And, knowing that vehicle sales slow in the winter months, it’s prime time to highlight the service lane at your dealership.  How do you do that?

Well, we asked visitors to Cars.com how they went about just that.  The key elements we found about consumers in their search for service and repair information involved pricing estimates, maintenance schedules and time estimates of repairs, and service and repair reviews (Figure 1)¹.

Figure 1. Consumer Satisfaction Survey, November 2016

So, we know that consumers are online searching for this information and, specifically, are on Cars.com for it.  What are you doing to help them find this information online? Now’s the time to ask yourself this question and act on it.

Furthermore, we know that service drives sales consideration and retention².  The service department builds and reinforces consideration for the dealership for the next time that customer is ready to purchase another vehicle.  A customer’s current vehicle is the number one indicator of what they will buy next and where they get service is the number one indicator of where they will buy next².

Figure 2.  Dealer Walk-Ins Analysis, Placed Inc. March 2016.

Let’s expound on that a bit.  We know that service department customers typically have a history with the dealership in some fashion.  We also know that customers bringing in newer vehicles are more likely to be in warranty, which explains why there’s a higher percent of newer vehicles that were purchased at the dealership where they are also being serviced².   Take a look at the graph below to understand customers with history at the dealership.

Figure 3.  Dealer Walk-Ins Analysis, Placed Inc. March 2016.

We see that 49 percent of vehicles being serviced are 2009 or older².  That makes sense, the older the vehicle, the more likely service or repairs are needed.  It is also interesting, here, to see vehicle models that are 2010 or newer as the highest percent of service experiences that were purchased at the dealer in the past and that were serviced as well.

The takeaway?  Optimizing your service lane is a great way to influence consumers for a future vehicle purchase from you.  Taking some of the data above into consideration, past experiences consumers had, vehicle model years, and warranties into consideration against what consumers are online looking for in the realm of service and repair can benefit you in the long run – especially in the slower winter sales months.

[1] Consumer Satisfaction Survey, Cars.com, November 2016

[2] Dealer Walk-Ins Analysis, Placed Inc. March 2016.