In recent years, dealerships have witnessed a significant shift: customers increasingly prefer text messaging as their main communication channel, especially vehicle owners under 55. But to capitalize on this trend, it isn’t just about adopting texting—it’s about mastering it.

We discussed this trend in a recent article, drawing data from our 2023 Dealership Service Retention Report, and found 40% of dealership customers now favor text messages over other forms of communication (up from 32% in 2020).

It’s clear that a stronger adoption of texting is becoming more urgent, but not all texting strategies are created equal. So what are some best practices your dealership should follow if you want to get texting right?

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Get opt-in consent

Always ensure you have explicit consent from customers to send them text messages. This is not only respectful but also complies with legal standards. Consent can be established through service agreements, online forms, or in-person requests.

This step is crucial to avoid legal repercussions, but also to maintain customer trust. Without consent, messages may be seen as intrusive or spam, negatively impacting customers’ perception of the dealership.

Personalize messages

Use the customer’s name and relevant details about their vehicle or service history to make messages feel personal and tailored. Personalization shows customers that you value their individual needs and are attentive to their specific situation.  

This approach can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, as personalized interactions are often more engaging and meaningful than generic communications.

Be clear and concise

Texts should be brief and to the point. Avoid jargon and ensure that the purpose of the message is clear. Customers appreciate straightforward communication that saves time and reduces confusion. Clear messaging also ensures that important details are not overlooked, which is essential for service updates or appointment confirmations.

Timing is key

Send texts at appropriate times. Avoid early mornings, late evenings, and weekends unless it’s an emergency or specifically requested by the customer. Consider the customer’s time zone and personal schedule. Proper timing ensures that messages are read and responded to in a timely manner, and it demonstrates respect for the customer’s time and daily routine.

Text customers during service visits

During service visits, keep customers informed with text updates about their vehicle’s status, any additional service recommendations, and options to schedule their next appointment. This proactive approach enhances the customer experience by keeping them engaged and informed, leading to higher satisfaction and streamlined service management.

Provide value

Each message should offer something of value, whether it’s a service reminder, updates on repair status, or exclusive discounts. Value-driven texts reinforce the benefits of staying engaged with your dealership and encourage ongoing interaction. This approach helps to build a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with the customer.

Use automation wisely

Automated texts are great for appointment reminders and follow-ups, but ensure there’s an option for customers to interact with a real person if needed. While automation increases efficiency, personal interaction is crucial for addressing specific questions or concerns. 

Balancing automation with human touch points can significantly enhance the customer experience.

Manage your messaging frequency

Don’t overwhelm customers with messages. Regular, but not excessive, communication keeps customers informed without being intrusive. Find the right balance to keep customers engaged without annoying them. Excessive messaging can lead to opt-outs and negatively impact the customer’s perception of your brand. Speaking of which….

Offer opt-out options

Always provide a clear and easy way for customers to opt-out of receiving text messages. Offering an opt-out option is a best practice and a legal requirement in many jurisdictions. This respects customer autonomy and choice, and helps maintain a positive relationship even if they choose not to receive texts.

Two-way communication

Encourage and facilitate two-way communication. Customers should be able to ask questions or provide feedback via text. This makes the communication more interactive and responsive, leading to better service and customer satisfaction. Two-way texting also provides valuable insights into customer needs and preferences.

Track and analyze

Monitor the effectiveness of your texting campaigns. Track open rates, response rates, and customer feedback to continuously improve your strategy. Analyzing these metrics helps in understanding what works and what doesn’t, allowing for strategic adjustments to better meet customer needs and increase engagement.

Stay professional

Even in a text, maintain a professional tone. Avoid slang and always be courteous and respectful. Professionalism in texting reflects the dealership’s overall brand image and commitment to quality service. It ensures that the communication remains appropriate and effective in conveying the intended message.

Link to online resources

Use texts to direct customers to online scheduling tools, service information, or promotional pages on your website. This not only provides convenience but also drives traffic to your digital platforms, enhancing customer engagement and providing more avenues for interaction and information dissemination.

Follow up on service

After a service appointment, send a text to thank the customer and ask for feedback or a review. This follow-up demonstrates appreciation for their business and commitment to continuous improvement. Feedback is invaluable for service enhancements, and positive reviews can boost the dealership’s reputation.

Educate and inform

Use texts to educate customers about their vehicles and the importance of regular maintenance. Providing useful information can empower customers to make informed decisions about their vehicle care, reinforcing your role as a knowledgeable and reliable service provider.

Staying informed on the latest trends and industry knowledge not only helps your dealership’s customer service success, but also helps inform your other strategies to improve service retention. To learn more about the latest trends in dealership customer preferences, check out 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.

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