July, 2017 – A new survey by the Gillrie Institute ranks ‘Service’ as the most important area for dealership success far above New and Used Car business. Almost 9 out of 10 responding dealers anticipate that the size of their Service department will become somewhat or substantially larger over the next 5 years. As the adoption and satisfaction scores for tablet PC-based walk-around tools remain low, around 60% of the respondents indicate an investment in electronic Service Write-Up solutions over the next 12 months.
With decreasing margins in the variable business, most dealers are looking at Service to boost profit. Deploying technology in the Service workflow promises the highest upside for dealers in pursuing this growth strategy, but that approach comes with options and challenges.
It appears Service as a business unit is turning into the major engine for a dealership long-term success. This survey aimed to better understand the trajectory of Service as a profit center, and how technology is currently or will be utilized in the Service Drive to foster higher Revenue per RO, and higher CSI. We wanted to study the rate of adoption of service scheduling, service walk-around, and mobile inspect solutions. The results of our study not only display the dealer’s decision-making points when selecting technology for the Service Drive, but also the level of satisfaction with the different applications.Stefan Drechsel, Marketing Director at the Gillrie Institute.
Here are the key findings from the survey.
- Among all departments, Service was ranked number 1 as most important area for dealership success followed by New Cars and Used Cars.
- Over 75% of respondents said the dealership’s Service Strategy is primarily driven by Fixed Ops Directors and Service Managers/Advisors in comparison to Owners, Principals, General Managers, and other stakeholders.
- When choosing one technology vendor over another for service applications, dealers care most about Functionality (67%), DMS Integration (65%), and Ease-of-Use (62%).
- Less than 7% of dealers do not use an online service scheduling tool suggesting that online appointments represent a ‘me-too’ service for dealers. Over 60% of the survey respondents are sourcing online service scheduling capabilities from a “best-of-breed” specialist (e.g. Xtime from Cox Automotive), around 20% of dealers deploy online appointments through their DMS providers (e.g. CDK Global, R&R), and approximately 12% use service scheduling systems from CRM vendors (e.g. eLead1One, DealerSocket).
- Only 38% of dealers use a service tablet walk-around solution. Around 22% of the survey respondents have vendor partners that specialize in service applications (e.g. DealerFX), while approximately 13% use a DMS vendor for the mobile PC write-up process (e.g. CDK Global, R&R), and about 3% use CRM vendors (e.g. eLead1One, DealerSocket).
- Almost 60% of dealers use an electronic multi-point inspection tool. While around 33% of responding dealers use specialized vendors/OEM solutions (e.g. GM Workbench, Xtime/ASR Pro), around 24% use DMS providers, and 2% use CRM vendors.
- Overall 87.2% of respondents anticipate that their Service departments will somewhat or substantially increase over next 5 years. Over the next 12 months, dealers have a strong focus on investing in service related technology versus any other department related tools (e.g. Digital marketing, F&I, phones, Accessories). The service tools dealers intend to purchase include Service Write-Up, Inspection/Shop Efficiency, Service Customer Communication, and Service Scheduling. Based on the survey responses Service texting and Digital Signature are most likely to be adopted by dealers in the next 5 years.
About the Gillrie Institute
With over 7,000 dealer partners, the Gillrie Institute is the nation’s leading consultant and advocate for automobile and truck dealers in their quest to reduce dealership technology expenses and get the right solutions for the best possible price and terms. That makes the Gillrie Institute the most-trusted dealer technology advisor in North America. It is the only independent consultant in the industry that can tell dealers exactly what others pay for technology. Unbiased and comprehensive market research, as well as its best-practice consulting approach build the base for delivering profound and yet executable recommendations sought not only by dealers, but also Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), and market investors. Past research includes surveys about Dealership Management Systems (DMS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Dealership Telephone Systems.