Dealership Communication ToolsDealership MarketingDealership Operations & Processes

Your Service Department Isn’t Prepared for What’s Going to Happen

Let’s face it. Our Dealership Service departments don’t always have the best reputation. Too often, they’re perceived as being overpriced and pushy when compared to the trustworthy shadetree mechanic next door, the independent auto repair center down the street or even the Midas shop across from your office.

On top of the ever-growing competition, most dealer service departments and service managers are years behind on a digital marketing strategy. Many are still dependent upon postcards and coupons sent by snail mail, from the manufacturer program.

Visit just about any dealership website and you’ll find the average amount of pages allocated to fixed-ops equals out to a whopping TWO.

The first being a clunky, hard to use “Schedule Your Service” feature that only works on a desktop browser. Forget mobile.

The second, a list of 3-4 lame service specials that are the same ones the Internet Sales Manager, 4 times removed, 3 years ago, happen to build out with an expiration date that automatically resets each year to the last day of the new year…

Service special wiper blades recurring

Dealer service departments, despite being the focus of revenue more than ever before are having their asses handed to them by the competition. And they’re not even aware of it.

Here’s the result on a popular search term for a local auto repair shop. Not one dealership to be found on page 1.


local service repair search results

So what’s next?

Enter the consumer facing vehicle service maintenance and repair MOBILE APPS. Just what we dealers want and need, right?

The way the mobile apps are used, too, could potentially have a major impact on the dealer’s service centers, which is another reason why it’s imperative our service departments join the digital arena. Let’s get some discussions happening now.

The biggest impact these up and coming mobile apps will arguably have on the service industry is customers having more knowledge than ever before on possible issues and recommended repairs with price comparisons at their fingertips. You know, just enough to be dangerous and often a pain in the ars.

In addition to a range of pricing based on the vehicle information the customer provides. Services like Openbay offer mobile apps that not only allow the user to search for a vehicle repair facility, but also displays their dealer ratings and reviews from previous customers. Openbay even showcases the dealer’s service amenities. Are you an Openbay partnered dealership?

openbay sevice mobile app

RepairPal is another consumer facing service and mobile app that offers price comparisons for particular services and regular maintenance. When searching on the RepairPal, one can filter by Dealership or Specialist along with Certified RepairPal shops, that must meet certain criteria while offering a RepairPal Fair Pricing Guarantee.

RepairPal has been around for awhile. I remember meeting up with the original founder (David Sturtz), around 7/8 years ago at that years NADA Convention. We had an extremely insightful conversation. He shared his vision on how he wanted help change the landscape of automotive repair and service and the important role OEM dealers would have in the change and evolution of the Service Department he had foreseen at the time. David has since then (2007) stepped down from his founding position at RepairPal. I believe he now hold a position with our favorite… TrueCar. 

Another FUN fact you may not be aware of: RepairPal has been the “vehicle” behind the Certified Dealer Maintenance and Repair Service offering from If you’re a dealer, and you’re a / RepairPal Certifed dealer, click here and let us know how it’s working for your dealer.


RepairPal vehicle service mobile app

These are just two of what could be an up and coming trend. Then consider possible integrations and/or partnerships between vehicle service and repair apps like the 2 I’ve mentioned here and the slew of these new connected car apps like Hum, MojioZubie, and Automatic that already offer a ton of cool features.

Connected car app runs a vehicle diagnostics, resulting in a recommended service repair or maintenance that then integrates with a partnered vehicle service maintenance and repair app, instantly showing the customer the top rated Certified Service Centers with guarantee price comparisons. Click here to schedule your repair!

We know customers feel more secure going into a service center when s/he has a handle on what repairs are really needed and the associated cost. As these services and mobile apps gain more and more traction, the consumer will instantly have this information available to them, along with several options and recommendations by peer reviews on where to have their vehicle serviced.

Granted, this isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but with time and technology, the landscape of our dealer’s service department and fixed operations will no doubt to evolve.

What steps are are you taking to be prepared for the change?


Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.