Automotive Digital Marketing

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Take a look at most dealership websites and you will notice that the vast majority of them are weighted heavily in favor of sales. In fact, if you take a look at their digital fixed-ops content you will notice that it accounts for about 5-15% of the websites real estate. Why do you think that is?

Take this statistic from Google Automotive: 40% of automotive searches are for service, parts, repair, and maintenance. Taking that into consideration and the fact that fixed-ops is the backbone of the dealership I ask the question again, why isn't more of a dealerships website dedicated to digital fixed-ops? What if a dealership dedicated an extra 5-15%, what would happen then?

In a recent study done by JD Power it was found that customers who scheduled an appointment online spend more on service, per year, than customers who don't make an appointment or did make one over the phone. The study went on to say that the online scheduler is notably more satisfied with their experience than people who didn't schedule online.

If you take a look at search, which I did before writing this, you will notice independent shops dominate the front page of Google for terms such as automotive repair, oil change, diesel repair, mechanic, car repair and many others. I looked in about a dozen different markets and the consensus was the same, independent automotive repair shops are beating dealerships, hands down, in organic page one results.

Why is that? The answer is pretty simple, they are dedicating more than 5-15% of their websites to digital fixed-ops. If you take a look at their websites you will see lots of content around oil changes, routine maintenance, winterization specials and more. Remember that JD Power study I mentioned earlier? In that same study it was found that vehicle owners who visit a dealerships service drive is considerably more satisfied with their experience than with service from an independent repair shop.So, what would happen if a dealerships website ranked high and started generating digital fixed-ops content? Again, the answer is pretty simple, they would drive more traffic, increase RO's, increase customer loyalty and influence word-of-mouth, while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction.

In Regards To Digital Fixed Ops, What Are They Searching For

After all that, the big question is, "what are people searching for?" According to Google, 58% of searches are for routine maintenance, while 35% is for light repair, and 15% is to enhance vehicle performance.Google went on to say that these routine maintenance searches are also driving parts and tire purchases.

When are people searching? Again, Google says that service shoppers are researching throughout the year with online activity increasing year-over-year, 16% increase from 2010 to 2011, averaging 3.5 million unique shoppers per month to vehicle service brand sites.

Much like sales, most service schedulers are comparing multiple brands with 65% of them researching 2-4 brands. What does that mean? It means that on top of revamping their websites dealerships should also take a close look at their online reputation as it relates to digital fixed ops. What does this all boil down to? Search drives 1.5-2 million service appointments each month, with a quarter of all visits leading to the service drive starting with a search.

What About Mobile?

By the end of 2012 (rapidly approaching) mobile devices will drive close to a third of total vehicle maintenance traffic with search, again, being the leading mobile research tool (47%). With another 39% reading reviews, 38% looking for coupons and 35% comparing prices.

What About Video?

Nearly 1 in 5 service shoppers are using video to choose which company they ultimately purchase from, with branded searches on Youtube increasing 20% year-over-year.

Why Are People Scheduling Online?

  • 70% say it's more convenient
  • 56% says they can shop day or night
  • 44% say that its faster to shop online
  • 25% past positive online purchase experience
  • 25% didn't have time to talk with a salesperson


The demand is there. People are searching for routine maintenance and light repair with 58% of searches being driven by the need for routine maintenance. If that's not reason enough to invest more into digital fixed-ops then you're just not getting it. This is low hanging fruit. Most dealerships do a poor job of indexing for fixed-ops, most independent repair shops are indexing by default, not by design.

It's important for the dealership to be present when shoppers are searching, with 81% of them comparing 2 or more brands. If the dealership isn't present during the zero moment of truth then they are missing out on increased business do to online schedulers, phone calls and walk-ins.

When developing your digital fixed-ops presence ensure that you promote convenience, with 70% of online schedulers saying that they do it for ease of use then it's important that you marketing yourself as such. Also, remember to ask for a review, it goes a long way to driving the next scheduler your way.

Now you must be asking yourself, where do I start? Well, considering the fact that 3GEngagement is the leader in digital fixed-ops we have two different ways that you can take advantage of all of this. The first is you can download the FREE Digital Fixed-Ops Handbook and go at it yourself, or you can contact us HERE and we can do it for you!

**Unless otherwise stated all stats are from the Google Automotive Team

Views: 286

Tags: digital fixed ops, parts & service marketing


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Comment by David Johnson on November 1, 2012 at 10:06am

That's why you teach them or get it worked into your pay plan to do it. It's too important not to. You are missing out on a ton of traffic. Traffic that goes right to the dealerships bottom line. Traffic that will turn into sales as well.

Don't dismiss it, make it work. It's low hanging fruit that has a tremendous ROI. Of course you can always hire a company to do it for you, which we do, but I'm not here to pitch but to teach.

Comment by Doug Davis on November 1, 2012 at 10:01am

David, the possibility of any Internet Director giving access to the back-end tool, of their website, to any of those people is highly doubtful.  I can assure you that I wouldn't allow it.  I might consider allowing the Service Director to have access but even that is questionable.  Most of these tools are all or nothing, as far as access, and they could do an incredible amount of harm.  Most of these people lack the expertise.  

Comment by David Johnson on November 1, 2012 at 8:48am

Very true, Chris Hanson and myself just conducted two workshops last week on Digital Fixed Ops for Subaru dealers in Texas and that was the biggest complaint. My suggestion is that somebody from fixed-ops is appointed to handle these tasks, whether its a service adviser, cashier or even the manager. It really is too important to just write off as we don't have the time or we don't have access to do it.

Thank you for adding to the conversation Doug!

Comment by Doug Davis on November 1, 2012 at 8:27am

Why is that? The answer is pretty simple, they are dedicating more than 5-15% of their websites to digital fixed-ops.

Most websites are controlled by the Internet Directors and they have very little contact with fixed operations.  Dealerships are fueled by self interest.  Internet Directors are paid for internet sales.

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