Why Dealers Should Consider Mobile Service

Mobile Service

Mobile service should be on every dealer’s radar.  If it’s not, the consequences could be long-term and profound.  This is why dealers should act now to find the right mobile service program for their dealership.

Recapture Lost Dealer Service Business

Many customers have moved from the dealership to independent repair facilities for convenience, cost, and speed of service.  Today, dealers and automakers are trying to recapture these customers.  But how? Most dealerships are already at capacity, land-locked and can’t even add service bays. This calls for fresh ideas.  Mobile Service is a great starting point.

Why Build a Mobile Repair Service Business

Dealers want to sell vehicles.  Parts and Service provide a relationship bridge between vehicle purchases. Delivering an inferior service environment drives customers away from the dealership and breaks both the vehicle service and vehicle purchase cycles.  Offering customers different service options extends a better, more diverse service experience.  As more and more customers equate satisfaction with convenience, Mobile Service is a timely and inexpensive way to address customer defections, both before and after they occur.

The Limitations of the Service Drive

Dealers and automakers spend vast sums of money in advertising trying to keep and recapture lost service customers.  Yet less than 20% of all repairs are completed at a dealership.  And lost customers who do return often end up waiting for service.  

There are many opportunities for waiting at a dealership. Customers wait in their vehicle before talking to an advisor, in the customer lounge while their vehicle is being serviced, and finally at the cashier before paying the bill. 

Independent survey after survey shows a direct correlation between “Time Spent” and “Overall Satisfaction”.  Mobile Service provides a level of convenience and service not available at the dealership.  It also allows dealers to reach customers who cannot visit a dealership during normal business hours.

Is Mobile Service Right for your Customers

Not all customers want mobile service.  Some customers already visit dealerships.  But even loyal customers will eventually find an independent repairer for their aging vehicle or for faster and more personalized service.  

That said, there are customers who can be lured back if mobile service is available.  And surveys are showing that there is a large group of customers who are interested.  In fact, one recent study in California found that approximately 60% of surveyed customers would appreciate a mobile service or a pickup and delivery service.

COVID - Accelerating the Demand for Mobile Service

Many “convenience” services have been available for years, but the pandemic boosted customer adoption.  Restaurant and ride share services saw their businesses explode.  And online shopping saw a huge boost.  Meanwhile, traditional retail outlets such as Target and Kroger started offering curbside pickup and delivery services.  

The automotive repair industry followed suit with repair services such as FixMyCar, YourMechanic, RepairSmith, Wrench, and Zippy introducing mobile service.  While some car companies such as Ford, BMW and Mercedes are experimenting with mobile service programs, most explorations have been happening at the dealer level, where many are offering concierge services at a premium.

Mobile Service - After the Pandemic

Customers won’t want to give up services they like, such as enhanced dealer pickup and delivery services.  For dealers, this presents both a huge risk and tremendous opportunity.   And while a concierge service may not be cost effective, a transition to mobile service can be.

How to Sell Mobile Services

Mobile Service can be a profit center and a customer satisfaction tool for dealerships.  Studies show that customers will pay a substantial premium for a mobile service.  And real service models show this to be true.  For instance, mobile tire installers are building large fleet networks to install tires at their customer location.  Many are changing a $25 to $50 convenience fee for this service.

Mobile Service can also be used as a customer satisfaction and retention tool.  Many luxury dealerships offer mobile service with a focus on customer satisfaction and retention.  A lack of focus on profitability causes some of these mobile service programs to either operate at no profit or at a loss.  But with the right tools and approach, mobile service can be both a customer satisfaction tool AND a profit center.

Dealers are not the only providers facing mobile service challenges.  Even dedicated independent providers have struggles with managing all makes services, scheduling, and pricing.  And even though dealerships are not saddled with the all-makes challenges, word from those who have tried it are leading to a condition best described as “apprehensive interest.”

Mobile Service - Enhancing the Way You do Business

Mobile Service can be very effective with the right mobile unit and software tools.  Mindset and approaches also matter.   So, success means embracing change – which is difficult for a lot of team members.  And Mobile Service is different than “Business as Usual”

Preparing Your Dealership for Mobile Service

You need a new business model for Mobile Service to be effective.  So, take the time necessary to consider the below points.  There are service providers around who have already developed the integrated tools.

Scheduling

Find a solution that:

  • Will dispatch and manage your mobile units for you
  • Offers scheduling controls and real time dispatch management

Using a purpose-built tool is much more profitable than adding a service lane to your DMS as “mobile Service”.  It is also much less expensive than hiring a professional dispatcher.

Creating and Managing Repair Orders

Organization and flexibility are key when managing Repair Orders on your Mobile Service Unit.  All the parts and equipment are readily available in the dealership, so scheduling for a service, completing an MPI and adding services is simple.  On a mobile unit, this can be much more complex.  Planning is critical if the mobile unit is going to generate acceptable average dollars per RO.

Managing Parts Inventory

A part that isn’t on the unit isn’t available for installation.  So having the right parts on the unit to support the addition of related services is key to RO value and customer satisfaction.  

This means loading the right parts on the unit prior to leaving the dealership.  This can create complications for your Parts Department, as they will need controls to make sure their inventory levels are properly managed.

Dispatching

Any mobile offering is only predictable until the driver leaves your dealership.  Traffic, cancelled stops, rescheduled service times and on-site upsells all add uncertainty to a mobile technician’s day.  Buying a tool that manages this will keep these challenges from becoming profit consuming headaches.

Staffing

A workflow that offers the right level of support and control to the mobile technician is key to success. The standard workflow of a job being managed by an ASM, serviced by a technician, and billed by a cashier are no longer practical.  Spending the time to understand and create a new workflow will pay dividends.

Technician Pay

Technician efficiency will likely go down due to drive and setup time.  It will be necessary to revisit pay plans and set customer pricing so technicians are not penalized for being mobile.  And since your technician will be the face of your dealership, their happiness will be key to customer satisfaction.

Quality Customer Contact

Your technician will be the face of your dealership for the customer.  So put the right technician on your mobile units and make sure they have the right appearance and customer service training to provide a quality customer experience.

Finding a Provider

There are good service providers with complete solutions available.  While most companies offer a partial solution by providing software, consulting, or mobile units, there are companies who offer a complete, turnkey solution.  So instead of spending your time creating a complex infrastructure, you simply need to decide which services to offer.  And there are many opportunities to capture incremental service dollars including service, light repair, fleet maintenance and service campaigns.

3ng Consulting has the Mobile Service Expertise You Need

As experts on the Mobile Service marketplace, we can help you design the right service for your dealership or automaker needs.  We know the systems, providers and customer needs.  So, we can guide you through the process of designing your program, finding the right service provider, and managing program deployment.

Vendors

There are several vendors coming online with Mobile Service options.  The most interesting vendor we’ve found is the OES Company, who offers a complete solution including affordable mobile units, software, and consulting services.

 You can find the OES Company at this website.

Doug Stein

Doug Stein

Doug Stein is the Chief Operating Officer of 3NG Consulting and specializes in automotive parts and service, product management, program design and management and marketing.

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