Car Dealers Can Boost Business By Becoming Go-To Sources

Forty percent of drivers do online research on how to repair their vehicles before taking them to the shop.

Steve Finlay, Contributing Editor

January 3, 2019

2 Min Read
Mechanic working on engine.
Of people who took their vehicle to a particular service spot, 65% first heard about it through a video, Harris says.

Dealerships can increase their service-department business by establishing themselves as go-to information sources who credibly field customer vehicle questions, particularly online.

So says Colleen Harris, an analyst at information-services provider CDK Global. She has more than 13 years of digital-marketing experience.

Among her suggestions is that dealers build YouTube video playlists centered on service questions.

That’s important because 40% of drivers research how to repair their vehicles before taking them to the shop, she says during a DrivingSales Executive Summit session entitled “Driving Service Customers From Your Website to Your Service Bay.”

She suggests dealers create online community Q&A sections in which consumers ask questions, dealer personnel answer them and questions voted as most relevant get displayed first.  

She also urges dealers to “convert search-engine keywords into questions.” For example, if a consumer types in “Oil change in Grapevine, TX,” the search results would include:

  • “Why get my oil changed at the dealership?”

  • “Should I change my oil every 3,000 miles?”

  • “What is the best oil to use on trucks?”

  • “Who has an oil-change coupon?”


When dealers establish themselves up as answer men and women it enhances customer interaction and increases time spent on a dealership webpage, Harris says.

A CDK case study indicates that by offering a FAQ format on tires (i.e. “How long do truck tires last?”), a dealership enjoyed a 33% increased visibility for “best tires” in organic search results.(Colleen Harris, left)

Harris, known in some CDK circles as “the Google Whisperer,” says more than 70% of search traffic is “long tail” (more than three keywords) and voice search is growing with the increased use of virtual-assistant devices.

Personalized coupons get the best results, she tells dealers. That’s because 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it is personalized to reflect previous consumer interactions.

Nearly 60% of consumers say they are OK with providing personal information on a website if it benefits them and is used responsibly, she says.

Other takeaways from her presentation:

  • “Near-me” searches (i.e. “Chevy dealers near me”) have increased 130% year over year.

  • Of people who took their vehicle to a particular service spot, 65% first heard about it through a video. (That includes advertising.)

  • Customer reviews matter. Harris cites a survey indicating 92% of consumers read online reviews and 89% of Millennials trust reviews more than brand claims.

  • Going from a 3-star to a 5-star rating can increase clicks 25%.

  • Service advisers should know of online coupon offers and use language that reflects the coupons’ content. “Use common, engaging, understandable language,” Harris says.

About the Author(s)

Steve Finlay

Contributing Editor, WardsAuto

Steven Finlay is a former longtime editor for WardsAuto. He writes about a range of topics including automotive dealers and issues that impact their business.

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