Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 38

FIXED OPS JOURNAL

NET
LOSS


Dealers tout online scheduling
of service appointments --- but
customers still refuse to do it

W

RICK POPELY

foj@autonews.com

estside Lexus in Houston sees
275 service customers during a
typical day. One Thursday,
nearly one-third of customers
booked their appointments through the dealership's website.
"A couple or three years ago, it was probably
10 percent," says Robert Parnell, the dealership's parts and service director. He hopes that
in five years, 70 to 80 percent of service customers will schedule appointments online.
Vendors that sell scheduling tools such as
the one Westside Lexus uses predict that more
consumers will want to make service appointments online as part of the widespread transformation to e-commerce.
Dealerships, though, are seeing mixed reaction to their online scheduling systems. Most
consumers still make appointments by phone.
Parnell told Fixed Ops Journal that online
scheduling "reduces the number of phone calls
you have to handle, and it lets the customer do
it at midnight or whenever they want to. It takes
that burden off us and allows us to focus on taking care of the traffic during the day."
Westside Lexus is ahead of the curve. A Cox
Automotive study of 4,500 U.S. consumers in
2015 found that 14 percent of dealership customers scheduled service online, while 69
percent did so by phone and another 14 percent in person. (The Cox subsidiary Xtime
markets an online scheduling tool.)
To increase his online bookings, Parnell
plans next month to offer a 15 percent discount on service bills to customers who make
appointments online.
"If I can get them to use it one time, then I
think there is a great likelihood that I'm going
to have a better bond with that customer, and
they're going to use it again and again in the
future," he says.
In contrast, at #1 Cochran, which operates 18
dealerships in western Pennsylvania, just 12
percent of customers schedule service through
the websites at three dealerships that track

PAGE 38

OCTOBER 2017

how appointments
originate.
David Bernardini,
#1 Cochran's regional
operations director,
says he isn't trying to
push more customers
to make appointments
online. When people
book online, fewer actually show up, he notes.
"Appointments
scheduled by our [business development center] over the phone or via
email have a 90 to 93 percent show rate, and we've
been able to maintain
that level over a four- to
five-year period," Bernardini says. "Our online show rate is anywhere from 60 to 70 percent."
Moreover, he adds, just 41 percent of service
customers who start the appointment process
online finish it there. Many have questions
and end up calling the dealership, he says.
Still, Bernardini acknowledges that customer preferences are changing, especially
among younger vehicle owners.

Online snags
Most dealerships enable online service
scheduling, yet research suggests only a
small fraction of customers use it. Here
are key reasons, according to dealers and
vendors.
 Customers don't know they can book
appointments online because
dealerships do a bad job of promoting
the service.
 They've always made appointments by
phone and are uncomfortable trying
something different.
 They start online but can't get answers

While many dealerships make
service reservation a main feature of their
websites, others are less diligent.

The Cox study concluded that 45 percent of
service customers who didn't schedule appointments online didn't know that option
was available.
To change that, Kim Saylor, fixed operations
product marketer for CDK Global, which sells
dealer management systems, scheduling
see ONLINE, Page 39

- such as how long service is likely to
take or whether they can get a loaner
- so they get on the phone.
 Some systems require a username and
password, and customers who use
those systems infrequently may forget
their password.
 The website doesn't show prices for
their specific vehicle, so they don't
know how much service work will cost.
 What appears to be online scheduling
is merely a request for an appointment
that the dealership must fit into
available time slots, if it can.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017

Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017
Contents
Editor’s Letter
Service Counter
Legal Lane
Dealers vs. OEMs
Parts disposal
Chicago way
Certifi ed repairs
Richard Truett
After the deluge
Labor rates
Off lease, on the lot
Paragon model
Feedback
Net benefi ts
Sometimes on Sunday
Get ready
Shop Talk
Five Minutes With
Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Intro
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Cover2
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Editor’s Letter
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 5
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Service Counter
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 7
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Legal Lane
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 9
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 10
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Dealers vs. OEMs
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Parts disposal
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 13
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 14
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 15
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 16
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 17
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Chicago way
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 19
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 20
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 21
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 22
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 23
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Certifi ed repairs
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 25
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 26
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Richard Truett
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - After the deluge
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 29
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 30
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 31
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Labor rates
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 33
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Off lease, on the lot
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 35
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Paragon model
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Feedback
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Net benefi ts
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 39
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Sometimes on Sunday
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 41
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Get ready
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 43
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Shop Talk
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Five Minutes With
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Cover3
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Cover4
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