In the last year, many dealers have started providing free apps to their customers following the purchase or service of a vehicle. Recently, Prestige Imports, part of the Braman Management organization, based in Lakewood, Colorado, received an overwhelming 1,000 customer opens to their “Postboard”, a component of their new mobile application (www.prestigeimports.net/prestige-imports-app.htm), in just a short 2-month period after launching a new mobile solution campaign to help retain and resell their customers.
On-the-go consumers are expecting more and more from retailers these days and the automotive industry is no exception. The issue for car dealers is how to best leverage and integrate mobile technology into their marketing strategy.
The future of customer interaction is mobile applications, “apps”, compact software downloaded to smartphones that perform specific tasks and are easy to use.
The popularity of mobile apps is growing at a frenetic pace and many researchers believe that apps will be the foundation in which the future of technology will be built. According to Vision Mobile, a leading market analysis and strategy firm, “Apps are the single biggest digital channel since the web.”
Additional statistics from Greystripe, the largest brand-focused mobile advertising network in the U.S., show that of all the automotive consumers accessing the web from mobile devices, 44 percent of car buyers will compare prices of different dealerships; 32 percent will locate a dealership; and 23 percent will use their mobile device to contact a dealership. Dealers are going to have to offer more than just a website or texting capabilities to capture their market and remain competitive in the digital world.
Prestige Imports quickly recognized the opportunity to engage with customers after the purchase of their vehicle via the growing popularity of apps, “We’ve noticed that major retailers find it very necessary to acquire real estate on their customer’s smartphones, so we thought, why shouldn’t we!” says Justin Adis, general manager of Prestige Imports.
In early September, Prestige launched their mobile campaign and felt immediate traction. They began marketing the new app through their website, Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), and through point of sale material in both the sales and service departments. They also make mention of the app at every opportunity, even including it on repair order receipts.
“Progressive dealers such as Prestige Imports, are classic examples of those who get it”, says Garland Webb, president and co-founder of DealerApp Vantage, the mobile solutions company that Prestige Imports uses. “Even though mobile technology is not currently adopted by everyone in the automotive community, Prestige saw a need to engage their consumers now and are reaping the benefits,” adds Webb.
“We already know that mobile is the future and we just want to stay ahead of the curve,” says Adis. Their new mobile app solution lets customers view their owner’s manual, schedule service appointments, buy accessories, get roadside assistance, find their vehicle in a crowded parking lot, find a cheaper gas station, report an accident, and receive alerts when the parking meter expires or when their kids are going beyond the speed limit. Results are evident; in only 2 months of launching and marketing their app, Prestige saw customers open their Postboard 1,000 times.
“It’s a lot easier for dealers to give customers free apps that have tools and applications they can use on their mobile phone than it was trying to obtain email addresses from customers a few years ago,” says Webb.
Prestige has also developed “Push Notifications” that send announcements, reminders and promotions like the winter season is on the way in the cold Rocky Mountain region they serve and it’s time for customers to come in and Winterize their cars, or to promote special events like the new Audi A6. The app represents the entire dealership from sales to service and parts, however, the focus is on service and the retention of the customer. Adis notes that they are not only seeing more and more customers requesting service scheduling through the app, and submitting parts requests, but they have actually been selling vehicles as a direct result of their special app notifications.
One of the unique features of the app is the “Toolkit”. This section gives the customer practical everyday tools they can use like the Cheap Gas Finder, which is very popular, and gives the customer reasons to keep the app on their phones. Prestige noticed that hundreds of their customers are coming back and using the Toolkit regularly. Another noteworthy feature of the app is “My Garage”, where a customer can create an identity for him or herself, and the whole family, with the purpose of tracking all their cars’ service records and general vehicle history. Prestige calculated that over 1/3 of the hundreds of customers that download the app create an identity and are scheduling service appointments via this feature.
Prestige has leveraged the app to help improve their customers’ ownership experience and create satisfaction and loyalty by delivering service reminders, recall notices, lease-end tutorials, equity alerts and specials that bring the customer in more often for service, repeat sales, and referrals. It’s an easy, non-invasive way to stay in-touch with customers and provide them with added value.
Savvy dealerships like Prestige Imports are implementing a clear, concise mobile strategy that ties into their existing marketing plan. “Prestige Imports didn’t take the ‘wait and see’ attitude that many dealers did with websites and the internet back in the day,” says Webb. “They realize the power of mobile and the ability it possesses to interact with their customers. ‘The Time is Now’, they know it and are already reaping the benefits,” adds Webb.
Prestige Imports hits a homerun with 1,000 customer opens on their new mobile app in just 2 months; improving the ownership experience while increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
What They Do:
- Offer customers free apps that have ‘cool’ (and practical) everyday tools and information that also acts as a powerful retention tool to retain those customers
- Market the app through their website, Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), and point of sale materials in both the sales and service departments
- Connect and communicate with their customers in a way they have never done before
- Leverage the app to improve the customer ownership experience, increase satisfaction and loyalty by delivering service reminders, recall notices, lease-end tutorials, equity alerts and specials that bring the customer in more often for service, repeat sales, and referrals
Resources They Use:
CRM: ADP Customer Relationship Management (www.adpdealersolutions.com)
Mobile Solutions Provider:
DMS: ADP Drive
- Create and launch a mobile solutions campaign to engage, retain and resell your customers
- Improve your customers’ ownership experience by offering free apps that provide useful everyday tools that keep them regularly engaged with your mobile app
- Consistently communicate with your customers via apps by delivering service reminders, recall notices, lease-end tutorials, equity alerts and specials that bring the customer in more often for service, repeat sales, and referrals
“It’s a lot easier for dealers to give customers free apps that have tools and applications they can use on their mobile phone than it was trying to obtain email addresses from customers a few years ago.” –Garland Webb, President and Co-founder of DealerApp Vantage, the mobile solutions company that Prestige Imports uses
“We already know that mobile is the future and we just want to stay ahead of the curve.” — Justin Adis, General Manager