In most dealerships, nearly all the focus of digital marketing is in the sales department, while fixed operations is drastically overlooked. It is not uncommon for dealers to have blank specials and incomplete staff pages on their websites, let e-mails go unanswered and lack true campaigns to increase site traffic.

A great deal of your website traffic can be service and parts customers if you follow some easy steps to enhance the digital presence of your fixed operations.

Your Google Place page is a great place to start. Find your dealership on Google Maps and check out your Place page. Think of it as your dealership’s résumé for online shoppers looking to hire a dealer to work on their cars. Has someone in your organization created a Google account and claimed this profile page for editing? It needs to be done. Make sure your address is correct, your departments’ hours of operation are posted and appropriate keywords are listed under categories. This will help online shoppers find your website and basic information about your company.

You will also notice reviews on your Google Place page, or the absence of reviews. A staggering 86 percent of online shoppers say they read reviews on companies prior to doing business with them. A whopping 90 percent say they believe what they read. The reality is you must manage these reviews or the assassins will. Getting service customers to review you online is easy. The advantage fixed operations has over the sales department is the sheer volume of customers they interact with everyday.

When following up with these customers, simply ask them, “How did we do?” When the reply is, “You guys were great,” ask the customer if they will do you a favor. “If I make it really easy by providing you a link, would you take a couple of minutes and rate us online?” Be candid, let them know you are building an online reputation for your company and their help would be greatly appreciated. Send them an e-mail with links to three review sites, If you would like a sample e-mail template, just e-mail me.

As time goes by and your review footprint grows, mix in other review sites. Online reviews boost your search engine equity, let shoppers know you run a credible and professional operation, and will likely compel shoppers to look for reviews on other shops in their scope. Hopefully, these other shops don’t have a library of positive reviews.

Now that online shoppers have found and read about you, set up your website to convert site visitors to leads for fixed operations. Make sure there are buttons or links on your home page to schedule a service appointment, view service and parts specials, and visit your body shop page. Keep specials current. Make sure your staff pages are up to date with biographies and contact information. You might even have staffers each shoot a short introduction video. Then, post it on your YouTube channel and place a link in the employee’s contact info.

Have you called your service department lately? Too often when mystery shopping, we get the runaround while trying to set a service appointment. I recently called a major dealership group to schedule a service appointment and actually got voicemail. I left a message with a phone number but never heard from anyone at the store. When we look online and fill out a form to schedule service, the results are also poor; almost 75 percent of the time, we get an auto-response and that’s it.

You may consider a “live” appointment scheduler on your site. This application allows customers to book their own appointments. Of course, you set the parameters of the tool, that prevent, for example, a customer from being offered a 4:15 drop-off time for a job that takes three hours. Although this will cost money, the benefits are numerous.

If you choose to have customers request an appointment time via a Web form, have someone dedicated to responding quickly. An immediate response by phone or e-mail will usually lead to an appointment, while a poor response will certainly send them to a competitor.

In the parts department, the same rules apply. Updated staffing, hours, contact information, specials and coupons are valuable content online shoppers expect to find when they visit this page on your website.

Nothing is different with your body shop either. Providing customers with information such as insurance companies you work closely with, skill level, testimonials, guarantees, staffing and hours will enhance your body shop’s online source of leads. Microsites are great for body shops. Check out This service actually allows customers to track the progress of their car as it goes through the body shop. The site alerts customers when the insurance company pays and when the parts arrive, and it can even provide before and after pictures online for the customer to view.  

Fixed operations are a vital part of your company. Ensure you are at least doing the basics to attract, convert and engage your parts, service and body shop customers.

Vol. 8, Issue 4