The question is not, “Should I advertise my service department online?” but rather, “HOW should I advertise my service department online?” Service departments are like car dealerships, they come in all different shapes and sizes. Often times they can be put into one of two categories, either they are full service operations open to the public or they are smaller in-house sources meant to help the dealership get cars ready for sale and to handle warranty work after the sale.
Sometimes, when we are building a website for a dealership with a service department meant to only service their own vehicles, we are told that because they do not handle outside work, they do not want to mention their service department on the website. That is a mistake! Your website should tell the whole story and it should describe in detail every facet of your business. If you do not intend to take on outside work, why should you advertise it, you might ask? Simple, it shows the car buying audience you are interested in their automotive needs before, during and after the sale. Rather than trust the mechanic down the street, you want to be sure your cars get properly serviced prior to being offered for sale. You want to be sure the car does more than just pass a safety inspection, you want to be sure that car is ready for the wear and tear well into the future. Likewise, if something is missed during the initial prep work but comes up during the sale, you want to be able to react to any surprises quickly and efficiently, helping that customer get into their next vehicle with minimal delay. And finally, when the unfortunate incident such as a mechanical breakdown does occur after the sale, you want to stand behind your product and help your customer get back on the road. Having to rely on third party mechanics in all these instances only adds to the frustrations of running a car dealership not to mention the toll it takes on your clients’ day to day lives. Remember, you are only as strong as the weakest link.
Some dealerships take their service departments to the next level while others are probably better classified as a full service business that also has a car dealership. For these business types, having an Internet advertising presence is even more important. When a car owner experiences a breakdown or needs service, they need it now! Today’s consumer is no longer looking in the yellow pages for a local mechanic. Often times, today, the search for a mechanic begins as soon as the vehicle coasts to the side of the road and before the owner gets out! Smart phones with location tracking will help anyone find the closest mechanic or tow truck in seconds! If you have a service department and are not on the web, well, it is like having a vehicle with no engine!
The online representation needed for a service department not open to the public requires far less content than one that is taking in outside business. It is only necessary to have a page dedicated to the service area and it should be mentioned several times throughout the site when you are detailing what it is you do to prep each vehicle prior to sale and when you are promoting the service you provide after the sale. You should show images of some of your more expensive equipment and possibly your service staff.
On the other end of the scale, you will be better served to have a website dedicated to your service business that is separate from the one you have for the sales department if you provide repairs and service to your local community. That site should include a detailed history of your business, a complete introduction to all staff members a customer will meet in a typical visit, and a page for setting appointments for routine service and repair. You see, a consumer in need of service and repair is much the same as one looking to replace a vehicle, they want to make the best decision possible when it comes to spending their hard earned money and they want to know they are trusting one of their most valuable possessions to the right team. When they walk in and ask you how much an oil change costs, remember they are really getting more than just an answer to that question. They are sizing you up to determine whether or not they feel comfortable doing business with you. They are doing the same thing when they visit your website.
Just like a car dealership, your website should be fully integrated with your Point of Sale (POS) software. For instance, your service counter representative should be asking all clients for their email address and their cell number. They should then be asking each customer whether they want to receive an email or a text message when the estimate is ready or the service is complete. In today’s world, there are so many more ways to communicate other than the old fashion method of making a phone call. Your wait area should be clean and inviting and should have call to action signs encouraging your customers to sign up for automatic text alerts to stay on top of regular scheduled maintenance. That texting feature should be integrated directly with your website since that is where you will direct people to go to in order to schedule appointments, retrieve quotes or even make payments.
Regardless of what scale at which you run your service department, you want to maximize the return on investment you are receiving from it. That means you want to use it to help you sell more cars as well as keep those bays full of paying customers and having an adequate online presence is where that all starts. You not only have to keep up with today’s automotive technology to stay ahead of the game, you also have to keep up with the ever changing world of advertising and promotion!