Dealerships are always trying to make customers happy, but figuring out what they really want can be a real head-scratcher. Without proper research or effective feedback setups, dealerships can find themselves investing in amenities that, while impressive, don’t necessarily align with customer priorities.
To make matters worse, the automotive industry has faced major changes in the last several years, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. As dealerships grapple with the new normal, understanding customer preferences has never been more important.
That’s why with DriveSure’s 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report, we investigated what’s changed, what hasn’t, and what dealerships should keep an eye on.
From a rising preference for text message communication, to some surprising discoveries about tire sales, this research has already proved instrumental in guiding dealerships toward better customer retention.
One clear trend emerging right now? When it comes to amenities, customers increasingly want value-added services.
What keeps customers coming back to your dealership in 2023?
Insights from Nearly 1,500 Dealership Customers
How customers see dealership amenities in 2023
Dealerships are constantly seeking ways to elevate their service offerings and enhance the overall customer experience. While some dealerships are transforming their service departments into luxury lounges, others are sticking to the basics, offering just coffee and complimentary wifi (a perk that’s now about as expected as free tap water).
But what amenities are truly resonating with today’s consumers? Our research has highlighted a few key insights:
- A growing preference for value-added services
- Consumers have a diverse range of preferences for amenities
- No single amenity dominated as the favorite — none were even ranked in the top three by more than half of the participants.
This diversity in preferences indicates that dealerships offering a broad spectrum of amenities are more likely to satisfy a larger segment of their customers than those with a smaller number of offerings.
A shift in consumer interest is evident when compared with our previous findings. Common perks such as complimentary wifi, extended service hours, and even rewards programs have seen a decline in popularity.
Dealerships offering a variety of amenities are more likely to satisfy a larger segment of their customers, compared to dealerships with a smaller number of offerings
Surprisingly, despite its surge during the pandemic, vehicle pickup and delivery services have also waned in consumer interest, with 16% fewer respondents valuing it compared to 2020. This service now ranks lower than shuttle services, a reversal from our previous report.
So, what’s catching the consumer’s eye in 2023? The answer lies in value-added services.
We based our research on the responses of 1,380 vehicle owners who go to a dealership for at least some of their service needs. To assess their preferences for amenities, we asked questions and gave instructions such as “Select the three amenities that are or would be most valuable to you.”
Among all the amenities ranked by customers, these three are leading the pack:
- Free tire replacements due to wear (46%)
- Complimentary powertrain warranties (45%) for vehicles that are regularly serviced at the dealership
- Free tire replacement for road hazard damage (44%)
While the first two items aren’t commonly offered, we’ve noticed a few dealerships testing them out, and wanted to gauge customer interest for the report.
Thankfully, since these top two offerings aren’t commonly offered, dealerships can stay competitive when offering the third most-demanded item: free tire replacement for road hazard damage.
Notice how customers want free tire replacements for road hazards almost as much as the first two offerings (a mere 1% difference, well within the margin of error). This is great for dealerships, because road hazard tire protection programs are simpler to implement and manage compared to the more complex “lifetime free tire” schemes.
Furthermore, tire-focused amenities like these help dealerships do more than just delight your customers: you’ll keep them coming back too.
Improving customer retention with tires
When vehicle owners need tire repairs or replacements, many don’t immediately consider the dealership as their go-to solution. This oversight can have significant repercussions.
The moment a customer ventures into another service shop for tire issues, there’s a real possibility they might never return to your dealership. That competitor then gets a golden opportunity to steal your customer with superior service, competitive pricing, or a great marketing campaign.
However, this risk can be entirely avoided if that customer instinctively turns to your dealership for their tire needs, and you can accomplish that by offering great tire-based amenities.
In other words, the future of dealership amenities will need to involve more value-added services, like road hazard tire protection.
When combined with convenience-driven amenities like online appointment scheduling (31%) and shuttle services (26%), dealerships can build a compelling and competitive service package for their customers.
To get more detail about DriveSure’s research into service customer preferences, download the 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report.
What keeps customers coming back to your dealership?
Download the 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report to see what dealership service customers have to say.