Grow Fixed Ops with the Digital Experience Your Customer Prefers

New car owner. Happy woman showing thumb up

Your service department’s focus has accelerated in the direction of a fully digital customer experience. Why? Because you are truly looking at the service lane through the lens of customer preference — how they prefer to do business and interact, and the influence of convenience on their decisions.  

David Foutz, Vice President of Sales at Xtime was asked to reflect on the state of fixed operations in a recent CBT News interview, “Fixed ops was in a really scary time for a few weeks as the pandemic started. We saw this leading indicator of [service] appointments fall through the floor, but we also saw them come back. Currently scheduled appointments are fluctuating but steady in terms of year-over-year and I think service departments are doing well.” He went on to say we can’t stop looking at customer preferences. We have to give customers choices and make it easy for them to get repairs and maintenance done.   

We need to create convenience and ease, digitally. Let’s talk through what that looks like so you can attract customers and build loyal advocates for your new auto repair software from Xtime. Together we can convert in-person conversation to an online differentiator for your service department.   

Grow by Meeting Your Customer Where They Are 

You are still auditioning for future business with every engagement, even if it’s digital. So, how exactly do you make a good impression? Signs point to convenience, digital interaction, and self-service as key factors to help you grow dollars per RO.

Late first quarter 2020, overall service repair order volume decreased, but the use of digital tools to limit face-to-face contact did not.  

According to Xtime data, in March 2020, utilization of online approvals increased by 40 percent compared with one year prior. Online quote approvals give service advisors the ability to share additional service recommendations digitally, improving communication and transparency even through social distancing.    

Additionally, percentages of customer responses, approved recommended services, and dollars per repair order were all higher than in March of 2019. In April 2020, the use of online approvals increased by 53 percent compared year-over-year and the average dollar amount recommended was also up 8 percent year-over-year. 

Now Imagine the impact of creating the digital experience your customer wants all the way from scheduling through service pickup, blurring the line between in-store and online? 

Make it a High-Touch Digital Experience  

High-touch in a mobile-first world means building relationships without close contact by providing five-star service. Think about the opportunities you have to promote trust and transparency without face-to-face discussion. You’re looking for chances to gracefully and seamlessly connect the digital experience to the in-store processes and create new ways to attract customers and build loyalty. They are present throughout the customer journey. Think about where you can insert these preferences:  

  • Digital communication like text or email that includes rich media like pictures and video 
  • A check-in process that requires no contact between your employee and the customer  
  • Service status updates your customer can self-serve 
  • Payment that requires no paper or plastic to change hands 
  • Flexible options for repair payment  
  • Choices like service pick-up and delivery for the ultimate convenience 

The connected, digital service visit provides the high-touch experience your customer wants and the advantage you need. In a Cox Automotive study, 54 percent of service customers said they were willing to pay more for service when the provider offered enhancements like online approvals and estimates, valet, and rideshare options. 

Service Pick-Up and Delivery 

Let’s look at some stats around one of those convenient, digitally-driven preferences. When David Foutz was interviewed CBT News, they discussed the latest Cox Automotive COVID-19 Impact Study which gave us some great insight into the performance and your customer’s predilection toward service pick-up and delivery (SPUD). 

David opened the interview stating, “Dealers started offering these [service pick-up and delivery] services as the pandemic hit. The latest data from our study last week shows that consumers that have experienced this service love it — 90 percent satisfaction rating among those who’ve tried it — and they’ve indicated that they are willing to pay more for this service going forward.”  

That insight helps us to understand the ultra-convenient options you’re creating have the potential to drive revenue for your dealership. However, David went on to share only about six percent of dealers are charging for this service today, with about 10 percent of independent shops charging for SPUD. David espoused, “There’s an opportunity for 90 plus percent of dealers, perhaps, to find new revenue.” 

More than half of the 1000 automotive customers who participated in the Impact Study stated they would be willing to pay $20 for SPUD. Even more interesting, 91 percent of customers who have tried SPUD say it’s key to where they’ll choose to service their car moving forward.  

David also shed light on the fact that SPUD can help fill the less desirable service appointment time slots. There is no reason a customer has to bring their car at 8 a.m. if they can have it picked up at 2 p.m. and returned to them without interrupting their schedule.  


With declining repair order counts, increasing service-visit intervals and the unknowns 2020 has brought us, you can’t overlook customer preference. Give them convenience and service options to win ongoing loyalty. Your customers want an at-home service experience, and you can deliver that as you make more of the service visit accessible from their phones. Keep working toward a high-touch digital service experience that is seamless and digital and delivers on customer preference.

Get your copy of Fixed Ops: A Playbook to Move the Service Experience Forward, here.