Online Service Presence

With these uncertain times we find ourselves in, consumer preferences are shifting to conduct as much business online as possible. Companies that have the flexibility to offer easy, transparent information online to customers are those that will succeed during and after the pandemic. Digital retailing is a huge topic in all industries.

Once a dealer told me his goal was to make it easy for customers to business with him and to reduce their effort whenever possible. He used opening the door for someone as analogy. With this simple act, you reduced the effort required by a customer. This mentality has been prominent throughout my career.  I used this mentality as I looked into this project. How often do we have tools and processes that were created with our needs in mind? When in fact, they should be designed for who matters the most; our customers.

Think about the old school road to the sale process. Needs assessment, feature demonstration, road test, appraisal, four square negotiation, etc. etc. You have to complete the process in order, no skipping steps! Why do you think customers dread going to dealerships in person? Our processes and tools are all about us and our needs. With ever shifting customer preferences, we need to constantly evaluate and modify how we do business to make it easier for customers to choose to do business with us.

So that got me thinking about our fixed operations online footprint. During my previous job as a consultant, I had a tool we used to evaluate the dealerships website and online reputation. I used that template and expanded upon it to give you an overview of where you stand in relation to your peers in the online world. To download this tool at NO COST, go to Once on the site there is an option for you to have this review performed by us for a nominal cost. You will see I tracked, ranked, and rated multiple areas through the mentality of reducing customer effort. I created and used this for a Hyundai dealership, so where you see Hyundai under search titles, substitute your brand for Hyundai. I understand there are limitations to all tools, providers and resources. My intention is to simply provide you with information, thoughts, and best practices for your consideration as our industry and society continue to change. There is no one size fits all approach to this.  As always, if you have any questions and/or would like to further discuss any of this information please reach out to me. Here is a legend to the scoring, ranking, and what I was looking for. With only a couple of exceptions, I used a 3 part grading system. 0 points equals doesn’t have/needs improvement. 5 points equal meets basic expectations. 10 points equal exceeds expectation/best example.  TFYC is a thought for your consideration.

Category: Technological Ease of Use– How easy are the online tools for customers to use?

Front page prominence

Is the link to schedule service featured prominently on the website home page?

Score legend 0=not on front page 5= on front page scrolling required 10=prominently featured on front page

TFYC- Feature service prominently to allow customer easy access to information/promotions/services and the ability to schedule online

Pick Up and Drop Off Service

How easy is it for a customer to know you offer pick up and drop off service?

Score legend 0=not advertised 5=advertised 10=advertised prominently

TFYC – If it’s something you offer, it should be easy for customers to find out about it

Initial Data Entry

Is there a feature for returning customers or google sign in to minimize required data entry?

Score legend 0=no option 10=option present

TFYC – Have feature present to reduce customer effort/unnecessary data entry

VIN Decoder

Is there a tool to allow customers to input their VIN and transfer data into their service appointment request?

Score legend 0=Do not have one 5=has but doesn’t transfer/decode completely 10=transfers completely with menu recommendation

TFYC- Have working tool to reduce customer effort and increase sales by having mileage based packages recommended

Choice of service/ala carte menu

How easy is it for a customer to find what they need for maintenance and/or repair?

Score legend 0=choices very limited, no menu recommendation based on mileage  5=choices present but out of order/lacking choices 10=choices present and relevant

TFYC- Match your top used labor operations to the choices for customers in order of most commonly used

Category: Information – Do customers have access to the information they need to make decisions?


Do you have prices displayed for services?

Score legend 0=no pricing 5=incomplete pricing 10=complete pricing

TFYC- Transparency goes a long way in helping build trust with customers. While having specific prices may not be possible, could you say “starting at $xx.xx, contact your adviser for details”?

Alternate transportation

Are all available options presented to customers?

Score legend 0=wait or drop as only options 5=wait, drop or shuttle 10=wait, drop, shuttle, rental, loaner

TFYC- List every available method you have at your disposal including, but not limited to wait, drop, shuttle, rental, loaner, uber/lyft, taxi, bus, metro, etc. etc. Have clickable links if possible to options outside the dealership such as a bus schedule or metro map.

Resources and information

What type of services and information do we have and advertise when you click on service at the top of the page?

Score legend 0=very basic offerings (around 6 or less) 5=standard(less than 10) 10=complete with more than 10 options

TFYC- As it relates to the customer’s vehicle, you can be their resource for anything they need. If you can’t/don’t offer it in house, I am sure you know a guy. Examples such as online tire store, maintenance schedule, roadside assistance, recall checker, order parts, owners’ portal, accessories, body shop, and the list can go on.


Are the online coupons/specials current, somewhat unique to the dealer, and have a good visual?

Score legend 0=none/expired 5=present/plain/incomplete 10=unique and relevant

TFYC- Take an active role in picking your marketing. You know your customers and areas of opportunity better than any marketing company or Hyundai rep. If you know you need to move more brakes, customize a coupon for that.

Category: Transparency/Separate from the Competition

Online tire store

What do you have showing customers you are in the tire business?

Score legend 0=nothing about tires 5=some tire information 10=online tire store

TFYC- Along the lines from above under additional services, if you don’t advertise or offer it, could the customer think you don’t do tires? Have a tire information tab or take advantage of an online tire sales tool.


Is there a tool present for customers to check to see if they have an open recall campaign?

Score legend 0=no tool 5=tool present 10=tool works and transfers data to appointment

TFYC- Having an online tool is a great addition to what you already do such as running each VIN through your DMS or OEM portal as it can help prevent you from missing out on completing them.

Meet the staff

Do you have a feature showing who you are?

Score legend 0=none 5=present but hard to find/not updated/basic 10=easy to find, updated, and personal with contact information

TFYC- If you want to develop a relationship with customers, they need to know who you are. Humanize your business by making the meet the staff personal to show you employ great people.

Social Media Presence

Activity Level

Are you using multiple platforms to communicate with customers? Are you using them frequently and advertising about service as well as sales?

0= no presence/only 1 or 2 accounts 5= inactive or sales only accounts 10= active accounts with a service related post within 30 days

Google review score and level of customer engagement

0= Google score 4.0 or below, 5= Score between 4.1-4.5, 10= Score 4.6 and above

0=no engagement 5=generic engagement 10=personal engagement

Yelp review score and level of customer engagement

0=Yelp score 4.0 or below, 5= Score between 4.1-4.5, 10=Score 4.6 and above

0=no engagement 5=generic engagement 10=personal engagement

TFYC- Most platforms are free to post, what’s better than free advertising for service too? The key to successful social media is frequency of relevant posts to engage the customers consistently. Take a look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Google and Yelp

How easy is it for customers to find you?

  1. Google Search rank for Hyundai service, Hyundai oil change, Hyundai tires, oil change, tires, and brakes in town located in. Example, ABC Motors in Smithville NC. I searched “Hyundai service Smithville, NC.” “Hyundai oil change Smithville, NC.” Etc. etc.
  • Yelp search rank for Hyundai service, Hyundai oil change, Hyundai tires, oil change, tires, brakes in town located in

Score legend 0=Appears on 2nd page or beyond 5= Appears on the 1st page 10= number one selection after ads

            TFYC- How well are your marketing teams and website providers doing to maximize your search engine optimization? I know how everyone feels about Yelp, I am in the same boat. I’ve never used it. But there are customers who do. What I found curious is how Yelp inserts themselves into search results. This could bring customers to their website who haven’t used Yelp before. The below example came up regardless of who I was looking at.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: