• James Grace

Automotive Service Schedulers : Trials and Tribulations

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

…so it turns out that online automotive service schedulers kinda suck…and that’s a problem worth solving.

Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail one of my clients received from a customer recently :

“I’ve spent the last 20 minutes trying to schedule a service appointment..it’s an outrage how difficult it is to navigate through..trying to get to the open schedule to select a time is a joke. Whoever designed the service scheduling did a poor set up. Terrible just terrible!!@@!!!”

This kind of horrible customer experience is a big problem in general, but I would argue that it’s an even bigger problem in this area because it’s preventing dealers from taking advantage of a huge revenue and profitability opportunity.

Fixed Ops is, in my opinion, the biggest area of opportunity for Automotive Digital Marketers. Here is some data to emphasize my point :

As Automotive Digital Marketing Professionals (ADMPs…just kidding…the world doesn’t need a new acronym), we spend almost 100% of our effort and budget on the new and used side of the business. We agonize over keyword bidding strategies, social media advertising strategies, the benefit we’re getting from 3rd Party Classified sites and the best place to find “in market shoppers.” Meanwhile, we’re largely ignoring 51% of the dealerships revenue that is 5 times as profitable.

Fixed Operations is a digital marketing goldmine. The Dealership’s DMS has all the people-based-marketing data you need for success. You have a list of customers that you already know are predisposed to doing business with you. You know what they need and you know when they need it.

A client of mine decided to test this out recently with results that were equally amazing and frustrating. We used Wizely’s Pinpoint product to create and maintain two audiences :

No-Recent : Customers who had service done in the past 2 years, but who they haven’t seen in 6 months.

Declined : Anyone who had declined service work in the past 30 days.

The client then executed Facebook / Instagram campaigns against these audiences reminding people that they could schedule a service appointment online. Here’s a snapshot of the results for one of the stores :

As you can see, we succeeded in getting people to the service scheduler page with our campaigns. (Yay Pinpoint!)

Unfortunately, there is a MASSIVE drop off between customers who load the service scheduler page and those that even START the workflow. The completion rate once people start is actually pretty good (62%) but that massive drop off between page loads and workflow starts is a big problem given the effort we’ve put into getting people to that page…which brings us back to the angry customer I quoted at the beginning of this post.

I’ve been talking with several leaders from automotive groups recently who have been telling me that fixed operations is a big focus for them, both now and increasingly going into 2019. This isn’t a huge surprise given the continued profitability pressure on the new and used side, as well as softening demand in general.

I decided to call a few of these people and run this scenario by them, wondering whether we were seeing something unique or whether anyone had any advice. The feedback I got was universal : this is a huge problem. Everyone I talked to is seeing the same thing : consumers get to the service scheduler page and then abandon it.

What can we do about this problem? Here are a few ideas :

Apply pressure on your service scheduler company. Make it clear that these numbers aren’t acceptable and ask them to do something about it. Ask them when they’re going to have a solution that doesn’t load in an iframe. Ask them to do some consumer testing on their workflows. Ask to talk to their product leadership about the roadmap.

Create a Service BDC, or make better use of the one you have. Maybe consider eliminating your service scheduler all together and instead put “text us” links on the service scheduler page that immediately link customers to someone in your service BDC. Maybe consider pushing people into a chat tool that interacts with the service BDC rather than the service scheduler.

Get a tool with an API. The technology world is full of great scheduling solutions with website integrations, chatbots, the works. Find a service scheduler that exposes an API to their backend and use a more mainstream front end solution.

I’ll admit, none of these suggestions are very compelling or straightforward – but given the revenue and profit at stake, this is a problem worth solving.

Using a tool like Pinpoint to activate your DMS data to target service customers is a great start (and pretty darn effective all things considered) but ultimately we need to solve the service scheduler problem if we’re truly going to make an impact.

I’m going to keep pushing on it on behalf of my clients, and I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Thanks for choosing Wizely!


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