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A recent trend reveals that many vehicle owners are very interested in mobile services. Currently, the percentage of independent repair shops that offer mobile services dramatically outweighs franchised dealers. Are dealers losing their customer service edge to independents who are willing to go the extra mile to win the business?
According to an article in Automotive News, the majority of services offered are valet services, where the dealer comes to the house, picks up the vehicle, completes the work, and then returns it. 28% of dealers offer valet service, while only 6% provide mobile service, which is performed at the customer's location, home, or work.
However, a 2018 study by Cox Automotive reported that 39% of consumers prefer mobile service over valet services, which came in at 36%. While that disparity may not seem significant, when it comes to recalls, those numbers could be even higher.
Now, I can imagine what many of you are thinking; that it can be detrimental if the customer does not visit the dealership. They then fail to get the full experience that dealers work so hard to achieve. Or, perhaps you may feel you will be unable to upsell effectively when the customer is not at the store. You can also lose out on any equity mining opportunities to trade the customer into another vehicle. All can certainly be true. However, consumer demand does tend to be a driving factor. And, as demand for these type of services increase, it is certainly worth taking a look at to stay competitive. It is just a segment of your customers that desire this type of service.
Also, if you think that offering mobile services can be costly and that it would be impractical to perform recall work at a consumer’s location, according to the Automotive News article, that is not always the case. Many recalls can be completed at the consumer's location, similar to the ease of quick lubes. While any recall requiring a lift will need to be done at the dealership, dealers can fix many recalls, including airbags on site. Many OEMs are testing and implementing mobile service programs with their dealers, including Toyota, Ford, and BMW.
Independents may currently have the lead when it comes to mobile service implementation, but it wouldn’t be that hard for a dealer to gain back market share rapidly. And the benefits are worth it. Today’s consumers are all about convenience, and independents can't perform recall repairs. Consider a customer in need of a recall repair who calls your dealership for mobile service. Is it that hard to imagine upselling them to have an oil change or other service done at the same time?
The most significant complaint from consumers regarding recall repair is that, while they want to have it done, they don't have time to come into the dealership. They are also nervous about losing access to their vehicles for some time. It is perhaps worth considering what services you could provide at the customer’s location and what recall repairs you can do off-site along with oil changes, tire replacements, and more. By offering these services in addition to a recall repair, your dealership could increase service revenue without having to upgrade facilities with additional service bays.
With mobile service, you could capture market share away from independents, and, at the same time, build a new customer base by conquesting customers from independent service repair facilities. In so doing, it can be possible to employ more technicians without needing more bays. You can also increase your customer base through conquest, increase recall and warranty work, and boost your recall completion rates.
Mobile services can offer your dealership a way to help solve the problems that have driven customers away from your store and towards an independent. And give you a competitive advantage that independents cannot combat. That would be an excellent way to recapture service business (especially routine maintenance) while showing the customer that service at your dealership can be just as convenient.
I realize it is probably not a practical solution for some of you. But according to the Automotive News article, it may at least be worth a look … it's always good to be ahead of the curve and on top of anything that can keep you winning in this highly competitive market!