Leveraging mobile apps for improved customer engagement in dealerships

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On any given day in your dealership, a mechanic will grapple with diagnosing a perplexing issue in a customer’s vehicle. A tool that swiftly and accurately solves the mystery would be an invaluable ally, right?

That’s precisely the kind of revolution mobile apps can usher into your dealership, acting as the key to unlocking customer needs and enhancing the car purchasing process.

For example, geofencing within mobile apps can be a potent tool for dealerships, enabling promotional activities when the customer visits a rival dealership, capturing analytics for personalized offers, and potentially escalating service revenue. But all this potential remains untapped without effective customer engagement.

The Impact of Mobile Apps for Dealerships

Currently, customer engagement and simplified online sales are critical for dealerships. Mobile apps serve as a catalyst in this arena, offering immediate communication, improved convenience, and bespoke experiences, and other businesses agree. As of 2022, almost half of small businesses (48%) currently have mobile applications to connect with customers.

Can an app work for your dealership? Consider this: eBay reports selling a car or truck every three minutes on their platform, with more than 13,000 vehicles sold weekly via their mobile app. If eBay is to be believed, the scope for mobile app-powered growth in dealerships is evident and impressive.

But you don’t only have to sell cars like eBay to receive a benefit. Mobile apps’ ability to offer instant communication is a boon for dealerships. Features like push notifications and in-app messaging can keep customers abreast of new deals, inventory changes, and crucial reminders, such as upcoming service appointments.

Another significant advantage of mobile apps is personalization. By providing tailored suggestions based on a user’s browsing history and personalized deals, mobile apps can make customers feel appreciated and understood, boosting their engagement with your dealership.

Essential Elements of Successful Auto Dealership Apps

Successful dealership apps usually sport features such as vehicle browsing and booking, service appointment scheduling, finance and insurance calculators, and vehicle trade-in assessments.

But loyalty programs and incentives should also be integral to the app, encouraging repeat visits and purchases and nurturing lasting customer relationships. Vouchverify, in a recent article, emphasized the importance of loyalty programs in retention, citing a report by Beehive, which revealed that “only 34% of people owning a car for at least 12 years would buy a vehicle from the same brand again.”

A significant challenge for retention lies in maintaining continuous communication with customers. However, with a dedicated app, your dealership can gain insights into customers’ needs, preferences, and driving habits, customizing offers to suit their tastes.

It’s important to note that developing a mobile app should be a strategic move rather than merely imitating an OEM or another dealership’s strategies. Each audience is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

An efficient app must cater to a specific customer need or address a problem they currently face or might face in the future. The strategy driving your app should stem from understanding your customer’s needs and behaviors.

The design and functionality of your dealership’s app should focus on delivering evident benefits to the customer, augmenting their interaction with your dealership, and, consequently, boosting engagement and sales. These considerations are necessary for even a technically superior app to make an impact.

Learning from Best Practices

Many dealerships have effectively harnessed mobile apps to amplify customer engagement and simplify sales. What types of benefits are helpful for customers?

For instance, a mobile app like CarRx lets customers schedule service appointments, receive personalized offers, service alerts, and diagnose service lights to understand their car better. This type of engagement can go a long way toward a dealership being viewed as helpful to customers.

Similarly, you could include a loyalty program feature. Every service appointment scheduled via the app could earn customers points redeemable for discounts on future services. These types of benefits will lead to a surge in app usage and increased customer retention.

Driving Towards a Digital Future

To close the loop on our initial analogy, a mobile app can guide dealerships through the intricate maze of customer engagement and sales, much like a mechanic’s diagnostic tool troubleshoots car problems. And there’s great potential for mobile apps to be powerful tools for customer engagement, personalizing experiences, and driving sales.

As technology continues to embed itself into our lives, there’s help for dealerships to incorporate mobile apps into their digital strategies. Giving customers your dealership app can foster stronger, long-lasting customer relationships that enhance customer loyalty and boost sales.

Just as a mechanic thrives with the right tools, your dealership can excel in the competitive retail landscape. With a mobile app in your arsenal, your dealership could propel itself to new pinnacles of success.

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