By Cavan Robinson, Website Product Manager, DealerSocket
“Hey Siri, where can I get an oil change?”
This type of search takes place more than one million times per month. In fact, according to Google Automotive Insights, service- and parts-related searches have increased by more than 400 percent over the past five years and now account for 28 percent of the total automotive search market. With all this consumer demand for service, you’d assume that dealerships are building a direct pipeline between their marketing budgets and fixed ops marketing strategies, but that’s actually a far cry from reality.
We’re Not Even Aware of the Disconnect
Per the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and NADA, Fixed Ops was a $310 billion market in 2013, accounting for 53 percent of a dealer’s gross profit. Yet, only 3 percent of dealers’ total marketing budget was dedicated to promoting service, parts and accessories. This misalignment of marketing dollars has allowed companies like Pep Boys and Midas to take full advantage of an in-demand market with minimal effort.
The key to national brands taking advantage of the market all comes down to visibility. Traditionally, dealers have been absent in local search for fixed ops services. Start searching for things like “brake service” and “battery replacement” on Google and you’ll find a SERP dominated by national service brands with a speckling of Tier 1 representation.
Understanding the Local Service Market
The first step to re-aligning your marketing strategy between sales and service is to assess the current fixed ops digital landscape. There are two important questions to ask:
This research project should take you no more than an hour. Define the primary services that you offer within your dealership and do a simple Google search for those items from both desktop and mobile.
Tier 1 is Taking Notice
Although dealership awareness of the fixed ops problem is low, you could be getting a much-needed assist from your OEM. In 2016, Toyota Dealer Digital Services (TDDS) launched a fixed ops digital advertising program. Seven vendors comprise the program that aims to produce SEM and display advertising solely for driving more click traffic to dealer Websites. If the Toyota program is a success, you can bet that other OEMs will begin to follow suit.
Fixing Your Fixed Ops
While the overall perspective here appears to be negative, there is a silver lining. Most dealerships are so far behind the curve when it comes to fixed ops marketing that there are two distinct advantages: competitive conquest (not a lot of dealers to compete with) and campaign development (you’re starting from scratch).
Here are the three keys to jump start your fixed ops marketing plan:
What Does Your Success Look Like?
Automotive is full of KPIs that seem to change almost monthly, so it’s important that you define what your success looks like before you begin to implement a full scale fixed ops marketing plan. At first, your service appointments might not see much of an uptick, but just like any other marketing effort, you need to allow time for assessment and adjustments, especially when it comes to content marketing.
If you are just starting out, keep it as simple as possible with a three-step analysis:
Step 1: Visibility
Step 2: Click-Through
Step 3: Conversion
Each of these steps can contain their own metrics of success, everything from impression share and CTR to lead form fills. But, if you set those KPIs aside for a moment and strip everything down to its frame, you’re left with the following:
If you’re an average U.S.-based franchise automotive dealer, it means that more than half of your gross profit is derived from fixed ops. Imagine what your profit could be if you re-allocated even 10 percent of your current variable ops budget. By spending one hour over the next week assessing your current market, you can put your dealership on the fast track to gaining visibility over national brands.