It seems like there’s an app for everything these days, and our home screens are filled with pages of them, many of which we don’t even use. Your customers are no different, so getting them to add your dealership app to that already-long list can be an uphill battle.

An app can be a major asset to a service department’s revenue, and if done well, customers like them too.  A good app will make it easier for customers to:

  • See their service history
  • Schedule appointments and test drives
  • Get service alerts
  • Track loyalty points
  • View showrooms

If your app is well-made, it can be a simple way to make sure more customers purchase a car from you, and 25% more likely to come to you for service.

For the more tech-savvy dealerships, you may even set up a geofencing marketing campaign, to better advertise services to your app users based on their location.

But why is it so hard to get vehicle owners to download apps in the first place?

Prepare for the 5 make-or-break moments that can cause service customers to start going elsewhere.

Top 4 reasons why service department customers aren’t downloading your app

Customers don’t like having to download apps if given the choice: 91% of people hate being forced to install apps to do business, according to Forbes. That said, around half of those people will download it anyway, so be sure to set yourself apart from other dealerships and make the app optional (but still tempting).

There’s not always a clear reason why people aren’t downloading your app, but usually it comes down to one of these four reasons:

  • You’re not promoting it enough — simply put, if customers don’t know about your app, they’re not going to download it.
  • You’re pushing it too much — on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re trying to force customers to use the app or making it a requirement to do business with you, you’re going to anger customers and risk pushing them away.
  • The app doesn’t offer any value, or there’s no obvious need for it — how does the customer benefit from using the app? Take another look at the list of what a “good app” can help customers do. If customers could just as easily visit your website, what’s the advantage of an app?
  • There’s no incentive to download it — similar to the last point, customers aren’t going to download an app if there’s nothing tempting them to give it a try.

How to make sure service department customers download your app

Given how valuable an app can be for your service department in terms of customer retention, it’s okay to invest more in providing extra value for the customer. With that in mind, here are 3 ways to make those customers more likely to download the app.

Promote your app, and through the right channels

First thing’s first, nobody is going to download your app if they don’t know you have one. Make sure you’re promoting the app on your website and in all relevant marketing materials. You should also be promoting it through social media, email campaigns, and any other channels where your customers are likely to see it.

Since you have customers’ contact information, consider sending them a text message with a link to your app, so downloading is just a couple taps away. You may also consider having flyers or posters in the waiting area of your service department, with a QR code or short link they can use to find it easily.

At the same time, don’t go smacking the customer over the head with app promos at every opportunity. And the customer needs a reason to download it, which brings us to the next point.

Make sure the app offers unique value

If the app is simply a copy of your website, customers will see no reason to download it: your app needs to offer something that the customer can’t get anywhere else. This might be easier scheduling tools, custom service reminder alerts, or their service history, for starters.

On top of this, commit the resources to making the app functional, easy to use, and helpful. People spend a ton of time on their phones, and they expect a pleasant mobile experience — don’t just treat your mobile app as secondary to your website.

However you provide extra value, make sure it’s clear what the app offers and why the customer should bother downloading it.

Offer an incentive to download the app

While the app itself should provide unique value, many vehicle owners will need a little extra incentive to download (and learn how to use) a new app in the first place. 

One approach here is to offer a discount on the first service appointment booked through the app. This not only gets customers using the app, but also reinforces its value by demonstrating how much easier it is to book an appointment (and get a discount) than going through the normal channels.

To maximize this tactic’s effectiveness, offer recurring incentives, so a vehicle owner isn’t tempted to simply download the app and delete it after they’ve gotten what they want. For instance, several years ago McDonald’s offered customers free fries each Friday with any in-app order over a dollar. This gave customers a reason to keep opening the app.

Some dealerships take a similar approach with free or discounted oil changes. In our dealership retention report, however, we found that discounts and deals cut into profits but don’t always lead to increased loyalty.

Increasing service department loyalty without relying entirely on app downloads

An app can be useful if executed well, but it only goes so far, and can require more resources than you might have. So what’s a more efficient alternative? In short, providing customers with benefits that they truly care about. For instance, DriveSure empowers dealerships to offer unique benefits to level-up the customer experience, even if they don’t have your app.

From road hazard tire protection and dealership-loyal roadside assistance (no app needed), to emergency alternate transportation and personalizing customer communications, DriveSure benefits set you apart from the competition.

And since your dealership provides these DriveSure benefits only with qualifying maintenance services (like an oil change), it creates extra incentive to return more often. When the benefits expire and the next recommended service is due, vehicle owners return to the dealership for quality service and renewed benefits. All of that, without requiring any app downloads.

Master These Moments to Keep Your Customers

Discover the 5 critical moments causing customers to abandon your dealership service department, and how you can overcome them.   

Join us for a free online event on July 28th!Battling 5 Dealership Service Defection Points with DriveSure