With a van that can be configured and converted like a Swiss army knife, the options available to your customers expand considerably.
By Jim Hudson
March 15, 2023
If there was a time when it wasn’t clear if mobile service would really take off, that time may have passed. What was once regarded as an occasional convenience is becoming an expectation.
So, customers have decided. Has your dealership?
There are two related reasons dealers should be putting their service show on the road. One is now familiar: Typical service opportunities are expected to decrease significantly over the next decade, so customer relationship/retention will only become more critical.
The second, more immediately important reason is the market. There’s demand. In these pandemic times, people have grown accustomed to having things delivered to their doorstep. If you’re not meeting this need, someone else surely will.
Fortunately, getting rolling isn’t as challenging as it may first seem. Accessories and equipment are now available to speed setting up, and the benefits of mobile service are plentiful.
First Things First
Like any business endeavor, set clear expectations from the start. A new revenue stream will certainly be nice, but there’s a much wider focus. You’re meeting people on their own ground — literally — because you want them to remain or become customers. Today you’re in their driveway so that tomorrow they’re back in yours.
Tires, & Beyond Tires
Dealers love it when customers purchase products from tire stores instead of the dealership, don’t they? Independent tire shops have made great use of mobile service, but dealers can also use it to level the playing field and hang on to their own businesses and customers.
This is why you provide tires and tire service in the first place, of course. Where customers buy tires, they often buy everything else. If the tire and wheel business is now conducted at customers’ homes or the parking lot at work, then that’s where you’ll go to maintain your connection.
Happily, work that begins in the driveway doesn’t have to remain there, and it doesn’t have to involve tires. You can also do many of the things you already do best, such as recall procedures, diagnostic scans and countless other light repairs (more on that shortly). The more you do, the more you’ll find, and some of that work will lead back to the shop.
The key to successful mobile service is versatility: running multiple services out of a single vehicle (although there’s nothing wrong with multiple dedicated vans if feasible). Today, it’s not difficult to outfit your van with numerous accessories, including racks, rollers, shelving, power source and the like, that ease including all sorts of equipment, large and small.
Similarly, suppliers are now manufacturing compact yet capable and durable wheel service equipment that can be used either in the shop or moved into or out of a van on a daily basis. If the tool you need is smaller than an alignment rack, chances are good there’s a way to get it onboard. You’ll be ready for whatever your customer wants done.
With a van that can be configured and converted like a Swiss army knife, the options available to your customers expand considerably. For maximum efficiency, schedule a variety of services for different days. As in, Mondays are for brakes, lube and oil. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, tire and wheel service. Thursdays, filters, airbags, lights, blades, A/C. Fridays, assorted accessories, recall work, special-order parts and reprogramming modules.
If the work doesn’t require a full-blown service bay, it can go on the menu. Again, work leads to more work. Steering/suspension, braking and other multi-point inspections can be performed at the time of service, identifying potentially serious problems and driving business back to the dealership proper.
Marketing on Wheels
Movement is the message. You may already be a master of your local domain, but there are always plenty of other territories to conquer. Your vans, appropriately decorated with your logo and trumpeting onsite services, will be highly visible brand ambassadors all around town, greatly extending your geographic reach.
Nature of the Times
Things evolve quickly in the automotive industry these days. Similar to ADAS, mobile service represents a shift that requires a decision.
It’s an attractive option. The barriers to entry are minimal. You have the expertise, the equipment is not cost-prohibitive, you can diversify and differentiate, and demand will only grow. If mobile service is now considered table stakes, embrace it as an essential opportunity to cement your customer base — or grow it.