Farmer Motor Group is a well-known success story in the Bay. Since Peter Farmer started out with Bay Nissan in 1991, the Tauranga business has grown to include 13 brands, 150 team members and three sites. They have recently added a tyre shop, a windscreen fitment centre, and a “smart repair” paint and wheel repair centre to their business.

The group has sought to set itself apart in the industry and does so through its prioritisation of the customer experience. Every step of the way they strive to make the experience easy for customers, from their one-stop-shop dealership and aftercare services, their onsite café and their multitude of courtesy transport options. Taking their bookings online was the next step in this journey for customer experience excellence.

Why did Farmers want to implement self-service bookings?

The management team at Farmers are always looking for new and exciting ways to enhance the experience for their customers so when Service Online was presented to them, they were convinced that this would take their customers booking experience to the next level.

Farmers saw that by implementing an online booking tool, they would be meeting the needs of two distinct audiences. Automating bookings through an online tool presented the opportunity to give one group the flexibility of booking anytime, anywhere.

This freed up Service Advisors to provide better customer support over the phone and during vehicle check ins/out.

The markers of success were ease of access from the website, the least number of clicks/steps possible for customers, ability to upsell services in the booking process, and the ability to provide customers with the option of booking their courtesy transport option.

How was Service Online implemented?

Systime, and development partner Experico, worked with FMG to carry out a needs analysis to understand the ideal customer journey for bookings that would integrate into Autoline.

Experico had carried out a similar exercise with other Service Online customers, resulting in a template solution that could be easily rolled out to other dealerships using Autoline DMS.

The markers of success were the having Farmer branding during the booking process and the impression of never leaving the FMG website which, the least number of clicks/steps possible for customers, ability to upsell services in the booking process, and the ability to provide customers with the option of booking their courtesy transport option.

Service Online capabilities

Just-in-time calendar availability linked to Autoline

The calendar scheduler integrates with the job scheduler in Autoline. When a customer makes a booking using the portal, the dates and times available to book are sourced from a live feed and therefore accurate to the Autoline data.

Integration into customer website

The Service Online module is accessed from the FMG website, hosted on a microsite, providing users with ease of access without the burden of development on the corporate website.

Users can access the booking service from a button in the header of the web page, and from buttons throughout the website. The user is then asked to select the make of car, this step is essential to ensuring that the car is booked into the correct department/franchise.

Put the customer in the drivers seat for upsells and cross-sells

A majority of customers book in for a WOF and service regularly but don’t think to have wiper blades replaced or wheels rotated at the same time. Service Online prompts customers to book these services at the same time simply by having the options available in the booking screen. This area can also be used for special promotions, as shown in the wheel alignment special below.

This section of the system is easily updated from the back up so the FMG team can test different offers and wording to find the most effective promotions to push to customers.

The dealership is finding that 25% of customers booking through the portal choose one of the “upsell” options. This has naturally increased sales without an advisor offering a product to the customer at reception time.

Making the customer journey simpler for everyone

The system needed to have the least number of steps possible to keep consistent with the focus on customer experience. Two integrations helped make this possible.

  • NZTA integration – customers enter their license plate number and the NZTA integration pulls the vehicle data into the booking system. Includes in data on make, model, last WOF and last odometer reading
  • Vision 6 – FMG regularly sends email and SMS service reminders to customers, as well as other marketing campaigns. Custom links to Service Online were generated for each customer and this field was merged into each email. Custom links meant that each customers data was pre-populated, reducing the number of clicks from the email to the service booking submission.

What was the impact of implementing Service Online?

180 – bookings in 24 hours

Following the announcement of Level 3 lockdown restrictions lifting, FMG sent notifications to their customers to let them know they were open, including a link to the online booking portal. Within 24 hours, FMG received 180 bookings within 24 hours.

“The management team were having a Zoom meeting together on the day the announcement that we were moving down to level three was made. The marketing team had prepared an EDM announcing our reopening and I had just sent the campaign to our customers prior to our meeting. During the meeting my booking inbox started receiving booking confirmations and within the hour around 100 customers had already booked in. This would have been impossible to do without Service Online.

This allowed us to have our whole team back at work on day one, confident that the workshops were fully loaded.” – Bevan Sheppard – Group Service Manager

3,725 – Bookings in 12 months

Since going live with Service Online 12 months ago, FMG has booked in 3,725 customers through the portal, 71 bookings each week. Customers have been quick to take it up following promotion via POS signs, email campaigns and social media promotion.

40 – Hours saved each week

The implementation of the tool has eliminated the need to hire another staff member. “We have one staff member dedicated to taking bookings and checking in customers. Last month this person made 250 bookings, we took 360 bookings through Service Online”. Moving those 360 bookings online mean that the Service Advisor spends less time taking calls but longer on each call providing better customer service.

Did you know 62% of customers prefer to book a service online? Customers expect digital touchpoints, speak to our team to find out how we can help your dealership digitise for a digital customer experience.

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