This was article was originally posted to FixedOps Marketing

When it comes to communicating with customers, fixed ops directors in dealership service departments nationwide make significant investments to cut through the clutter.

But are their efforts paying off? Are their messages being seen, heard, and most importantly, acted upon?

A recent 2020 Dealership Service Retention Report gathered responses from nearly 2,000 vehicle owners who currently take their vehicle to a dealership for at least some of their service needs. The report includes actionable data for dealer service departments in areas like:

  • Why consumers do and don’t return to the dealership for service
  • Consumer communication preferences
  • Ways to capitalize on service department opportunities

Woven through the entire report is a goldmine of enlightening data and information about marketing your service department in 2020 and beyond. Here, we’ll break down some of what the report taught us about marketing, and show you the tactics and techniques your customers prefer today.

Text Messaging

Perhaps unsurprisingly, texting is swiftly closing in on other channels as your customers’ most preferred communication method. Of those surveyed, 32% said they preferred text communications between service visits, and 60% want to be communicated with via text during service. Text message marketing has become an inexpensive, trackable, easy, and extremely personal way to keep your service department connected to customers.

By communicating with people through the same channel where they talk with their friends and family, you’ll ensure that your messages are read while simultaneously building meaningful relationships with your customers.

Bottom line: dealerships that haven’t adopted a solid strategy for sending text messages to customers may want to start now.

Mobile Alerts

Keeping with the mobile device theme, let’s talk smartphones. While much of your competition continues to focus on more traditional methods, savvy dealership marketers are going all in with mobile marketing. It would be foolish not to, with 54% of dealer service department customers “likely or very likely” to download a mobile app on their phone for service reminders.

Staying in contact with your customers through mobile app marketing is a surefire way to cut through the clutter and outpace your competition.

Digital pass screenshot

Aside from service notifications, you can strategically send offers and targeted marketing messages, with some apps offering geofencing capabilities. This type of advanced digital marketing allows you to welcome your customers back when they visit your location, and even instantly send a special offer to their phones if they visit your competition.


Concerned you may be falling behind after seeing the increasing popularity of text and mobile? Don’t be. While those methods are certainly worth a hard look for your fixed ops marketing, email communication still reigns supreme.

Not only do the majority of dealerships still use email as their top customer communication channel, but 50% of those surveyed prefer being emailed between service visits.

Dealership communication graph

Communication methods preferred between visits

Targeted and personalized follow-up and reminder emails will enhance your customer experience. Regular dealership email newsletters will help you build brand awareness and stay top-of-mind. Occasional standalone notification and offer emails will drive immediate action and assist with increasing your service visit frequency. You can even try working video into your strategies for the ultimate personal touch!

Ultimately, no matter how you’re working your customer’s inbox, you’re bound to see returns with this tried-and-true marketing tactic.

The Customer Experience

In the end, there’s no more powerful marketing tool than simply providing an exceptional customer experience. As consumers, we’re inundated all day every day from brands and marketers vying for our attention. The only way to truly stand out is to surprise, delight, and wow your customers.

In fact, in one of the report’s most jaw-dropping revelations, 49% of those who self-identified as “extremely loyal” customers said they would consider going elsewhere for service after just one bad experience.

What might cause you to go elsewhere for service graph

This only underscores the importance for dealership service departments to consistently provide an above-and-beyond experience for their customers.

Amenities also play a huge part in the overall customer experience and can be crucial in developing a unique brand for your service department. The report shows “online appointment booking” as the most desirable amenity. Free road hazard tire repair/replacement and free renewable roadside assistance are the second and third most valued, respectively.

Vehicle pickup and delivery ranked number four in desired amenities, and that was prior to “the new normal” we’re now all accustomed to. In a world where COVID-19 has changed so much, the added comfort and convenience of a service department valet service has become nothing short of a necessity.

All-In-One Service Department Marketing

One of the largest complaints heard from service managers and directors is the lack of time and resources they have to implement modern text and email technology tools in their service departments. It can be challenging for managers to maintain customer communication in addition to the heavy workload they already manage. And frankly, many simply don’t want to create and manage their own marketing materials.

There are only a few solutions to this conundrum. Hiring third-party marketing companies that specialize in fixed operations and video is nearly always expensive and requires long-term contracts. Many don’t offer video solutions at all. And clearly, service managers do not have the time to produce and market video content in their email and mobile marketing.

FixedOPS Marketing offers affordable and accessible video marketing solutions for all digital marketing platforms, starting at $399/month. They focus on fixed operations exclusively, therefore, the content is written and created for the service department customer.

Video marketing is so powerful in online marketing that FixedOPS Marketing customers easily see their online conversion rates hover at 20% or more.

A live demo of these marketing tools and more are available to view for yourself. With video being the primary media consumed on the internet, it’s imperative for dealerships to embrace these new technologies.

Make Sure Your Marketing Develops Customer Loyalty

From unique stand-out marketing to value-added amenities to an incomparable service department experience—fostering customer loyalty and earning repeat fixed ops business is the fastest way to dealership profit.

The 2020 Dealership Service Retention Report


Learn why customers choose to return to their dealership for service and why they don’t. Plus, we reveal your biggest opportunities for encouraging customer loyalty.