October 2013, Auto Dealer Today - Feature
Dealers don’t need the brand recognition of a national chain to compete for local service business. A standalone website with a page for each service, including tire services, will drive more traffic to your service department.
Speaking at conferences across the United States and Canada gives me the chance to connect with hundreds of dealership owners and employees. The dealers who attend Automotive Digital Marketing events tend to be progressive and aggressive when it comes to online marketing. They are always looking for the newest, latest and greatest thing to grow their dealership.
The fact is, you don’t need to focus on what’s new and shiny. There are more immediate concerns, and the numbers prove it. When dealers ask me where they should focus their budget and resources, I always suggest looking at the data. Perhaps the biggest mismatch between where they spend their money and where they should spend it is in marketing the fixed-operations side of their dealerships.
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association’s NADA Data 2013, the average franchised dealership had net profits that broke out roughly like this for 2012:
- New-vehicle sales: $100,000
- Used-vehicle sales: $100,000
- Service and parts departments: $300,000
That means roughly 60 percent of the average new-car dealer’s net profit comes from fixed ops. However, as the CEO of a dealership website company, I can tell you that perhaps 5 percent of the average dealership’s website content is targeted to fixed operations, and practically no portion of a dealership’s proactive digital marketing (paid search, SEO, banner/display or social media) is focused on their service department.
Not only does fixed ops drive the most profit for a dealership, and not only is it the most neglected profit center when it comes to a dealer’s time and resources, but Google searches for fixed operations are up more than 400 percent in the last five years. And according to a 2012 study by YellowPages.com, two of the Top 6 local search categories for consumers are focused on a dealer’s fixed operations:
- Auto parts
- Building contractors
- Physicians and surgeons
- Legal services
- Auto repair and service
Remarkably, despite all this data, the typical dealership site has very limited information about its service department. Dealers would like to compete with national service brands such as Firestone, Goodyear, Jiffy Lube and Pep Boys. Unfortunately, these companies have thousands of pages of website content devoted to their services. If you want to step in the ring with the heavyweights, you need to start by building service content within your existing site. Or you can do what many of our most successful customers have done: Create a standalone fixed-operations website.