Marketing to the Younger Generation of Service Customers

patti thurmon newsletterAccording to several studies, age plays a big role in whether someone faithfully takes their car to a dealerships service department or an aftermarket chain for service.

Reports show that nearly half of dealership loyalists (46%) are 50 years of age or over while roughly half (47%) of aftermarket loyalist are under age 34.  More than a third of those most likely to be disloyal to a dealership service department are ages 25-34. Demographically, the chain stores are winning and this is threatening the dealerships fixed operations.

Aftermarket chains are grabbing business from dealership service departments and are best at capturing the young wave of vehicle owners for work such as brake repairs, oil changes, new-battery installments as well as tire rotation, balance and alignments.
The automotive service business will fundamentally change if dealerships don’t replace their aging loyalists and aftermarket stores retain their young loyalists as they enter their prime spending years.

To attract the new generation to service departments, dealerships must realize those young consumers are price-sensitive and speed-conscious.

Marketing strategies aimed at young spenders should take into account that they are digital-oriented and need to constantly experience the “Wow Factor”. With ever improving advanced technology literally in the palm of our hands, customers are continually updated and wowed with the “best” and “evolutionary technology trends”. An email reminder once in a while that their car needs servicing is not going to create a loyal customer from the younger generation.

In years passed, it was easier to market to everyone because it was usually done the traditional way, for example: magazines, TV commercials, newspapers and so on. Dealerships today have to be savvy with all forms of digital marketing resources, including Social Media, Email, Direct Mail, Texting, Telemarketing, Mass Media, Web-sites, micro-sites… Many dealerships are exploring this area in the Sales Department, but Service Departments are still struggling to jump on board with the marketing trend. There are a lot of different ways for a Service Department to communicate with customers. Below are just a few tips to help spark your thinking to develop a service department marketing strategy with the younger generation in mind.

Marketing Strategy

The most effective way to market a service department is to develop a well-planned and sustainable marketing strategy. Many dealerships will tell me that they already have a marketing strategy. Usually, there is no strategy – just a dealership running a promotion.
Dealerships need a marketing program that’s strategic and data driven. Fortunately, service departments have an enormous amount of data about their customers’ within their CRM program which means they can develop extremely competitive offers, communicate via multi-channel campaigns and target those customers who are most likely to respond. However, service departments fall back on the CRM tool too often, thinking that the tool is the marketing plan. Sure, a CRM Tool can identify customers with good equity. It can generate birthday reminders and supply email templates. It also provides resources and information, but it doesn’t create a strategy. It can help dealers communicate with customers, but it doesn’t help them motivate and sustain customers and that’s a critical difference.     

Online advertising

The younger generation today is more invested and more savvy with newer forms of technology and communication than any other generation. They spend more time with electronic devices, newer types of technology, and they spend much more time online than any other generation to this day. If dealerships want to be able to reach these potential consumers, then clearly they will have to use the internet customizing a design for a website. Using the internet to market to younger generations will only help your service department because it shows that your image is hip, cutting edge, and the very opposite of most other service departments today. This is the image that you want for your service department if you are going to capture this younger more savvy audience of today.

Interactive sites

Create something fun to encourage viewers to spend more time on your site. Make it fun and something that they can participate in. It could be a game or a funny photo that they will share with others. Be creative! The more creative and fun your site is the more people will want to spend time there. Also, when you design your site, give viewers free access to something they want in exchange for publicity of your advertisements. If you just have your advertisements pop up every time they get on a site, your promotions will become annoying, and simply have a negative effect, instead of being successful.

You Tube

You Tube has great ways to target audiences that you are looking for. It has a program that will identify what videos are most popular with the younger generations and then you can launch your advertising around those videos. This way you take advantage of the huge younger audience that views that particular content. This is a very easy way to market to the younger generation.

Viral design

Instead of using billboards as the only means to make impressions to your customers, another approach is a viral design. This is when a video is produced and then the market discovers it and gets excited about it all on its own. Viral design trends are different than the normal expectations in order to attract attention and become a talking point that people will want to forward on to everyone they know. Once something is out in the open, then it can continue to spread rapidly from user to user, with no potential end. This in turn reaches a large unexplainable amount of people. To help with your designing, you may want to work with a professional company that has multiple hours of experience creating.
So the real question becomes, what is the overall goal of a service department marketing strategy? That’s simple, to increase the value of your customer, have customers visit your service department more often, and increase profitability per transaction.

Obviously this is just a start in developing ideas for an effective marketing strategy, but the best plan of action starts small with the big picture in mind.


About the Author