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The Pandemic: One year later

Posted by Nicole Diemert in Industry News, Mobile Payments, Texting | 0 comments

12.03.21

How it started and where we are today.

Yesterday marked the official one year anniversary of when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a Pandemic. At this time last year, businesses around the world were shutting down or moving to work remotely if they could. Businesses deemed as 'essential services' were allowed to — and in some cases required to — remain open to provide those necessary services to the public.

But where did the automotive dealership fall? There certainly were a few weeks of confusion and uncertainty. Provinces made official statements within days of the pandemic declaration to clarify what were essential businesses. (Here are some articles on individual province circumstances: Ontario Dealerships Deemed Essential, Quebec Dealerships Pivot to Online Sales, BC Automotive Association pushing for Essential Service Declaration.) Soon enough, it was announced that car dealership Service Departments were considered essential.

Good and bad news

Being considered an essential service meant you could keep your doors open for business, and keep your staff working, which was great news. BUT, in order to do so, many safety protocols had to be put in place to be compliant, and that could be a bit of bad news. Some of these changes were fairly extensive, and in some cases, needed to be implemented almost overnight.

Dealers had to install acrylic or plastic barriers between customers and staff members. Every inch of work space, including customer's vehicles had to be routinely and properly sanitized and protected. Work spaces had to allow for 6 feet of space between each person and a limited amount of customers and staff could be in the building at the same time to ensure minimal contact and interaction. On top of that, all staff were equipped with face masks and shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray. Yet somehow, dealerships still needed to provide a level of service to their customers that they had grown to expect. That was a tall order.

Communication

One of the first things dealerships needed to do was communicate to their customers. First and foremost, dealerships had to let their customers know they were 'open for business'. Then came the new Covid Protocols. Most dealerships had an updated process for booking appointments, revised vehicle drop offs and pick ups and payment methods — and it was important to get this information out to customers. A lot of dealerships turned to their texting systems to reach their customers. Confirming or rebooking cancelled appointments, sending appointment reminders with details about where to park or drop off keys. All crucial information to making sure everyone remained safe and ensuring their essential service could still be done.

Contactless Options

One of the biggest factors that dealers were confronted with from the beginning and throughout this last year, was the need to provide as many contactless services and options as possible. From remote text communication, to safe and simple key drop off points. From secure online payment options to a seamless, physically distant vehicle pick up — the most important element was the ability to provide this with the least amount of contact as possible. Thus keeping both customers and staff safe.

Patience

Even with all the technology at their hands and revised work protocols, patience was definitely required on all sides. Dealerships were adding and adjusting their work processes throughout the waves of the pandemic and provincial mandates changed (more than once!) It was a moving target at times. It took months before some dealerships could run with full staff. This was especially true in the Sales department, which were mostly working remotely. Vehicle purchases were being made solely online. Unlike the Service departments that had moderate changes to their processes, the pandemic completely changed how the car buying process worked.

A Year In

On the whole, dealerships across the country seem to have adapted to this difficult, challenging situation. They have modified and adjusted to their new Covid protocols; with masks, sanitizing and physical distancing almost becoming second nature. Having to run such a tight, guarded ship can actually result in a dealership becoming more streamlined and productive. Increasing communication allowed staff to really provide the next level of customer service.

Now, a year in to the pandemic, with vaccinations rolling out and cases dropping, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Business is starting to come back to normal levels. So, what will this mean for the dealership Service Department in the future? Sure, the acrylic dividers may eventually come down. Customers and staff will hopefully be able to walk around in the dealership mask-less. But what about all the other contactless services that were brought into place? Will dealerships revert back to traditional ways of conducting business and providing service?

If history tells us anything, once society has been introduced to new technology and updated processes, they generally don't like to go back. Going forward, customers will most likely continue to prefer contactless and streamlined options such as receiving text updates to keep them informed, quick and easy drop off procedures, and providing them the option to pay online. Services such as appointment confirmations, mobile check-ins, booking transportation and payment for services — all done from your personal device — will soon become the standard, instead of a luxury — or in this case, a Pandemic necessity.



New year, new changes

Posted by Nicole Diemert in Company News Announcement, Texting | 0 comments

06.01.21

10 reasons to partner with VenueVision in 2021!

At the start of every new year, dealerships should review their processes and practices and see if there are ways to improve, increase productivity and as always, provide the best customer experiences they can. With the start of 2021 and all the challenges that Covid-19 have brought to staff and customers, this year it is even more important to do so.

To help make this process easier for you, VenueVision has developed tools and solutions that can help your dealership start off the new year successfully and keep you growing. Here are 10 of our solutions that can definitely up your game in providing the best in contactless and enhanced customer services.

1. autoTEXT

Using autoTEXT will keep your customers informed through the course of their Service visits with timely text messaging. Automated messages such as appointment reminders, vehicle check in, vehicle completion and service follow ups provide customers with their repair status updates and open a two-way conversation avenue to be in direct contact with their Advisor. Customize messaging for even more customer interaction with Responsive Keyword Texting. Generate automated responses based on customers’ requests for Contactless Drop off details and contactless payment options, vehicle appraisals, Shuttle requests and more.

2. Express Check-In

View all daily upcoming appointments from one page and easily see who has confirmed, cancelled or not responded. Capture appointment confirmations and cancellation requests from Appointment reminders. Send automated Express Check-In link to customers to confirm upcoming appointment details and provide additional details ahead of appointment, including pictures. Be alerted when customers submit their Express Check-In details or when they indicate they cannot make their appointment. Communicate directly from appointment dashboard to reschedule customers who need to cancel.

3. Mobile Cashier

Provide a fast, safe and contactless payment method. Send mobile links with Mobile Cashier to collect payment and deposits for every department in your dealership. Customers can access the payment portal through any mobile device or desktop computer. Within minutes, your customers can receive a link, access the portal on their device, review their invoice, enter their credit card information and send payment. Your dealership will receive instant notification that the payment was received.

4. Marketing Campaigns

Send important information and promotional messages to a specific targeted list of your customers with Marketing Campaigns. Use this campaign feature to broadcast key dealership changes and news such as updates to procedures and practices, revised hours of operations, etc. Target specific groups of customers with timely offers or specials to help out your customers in these difficult times and remind them that you are still open for business.

5. Repair Estimates

Reach your customers instantly with professional digital Repair Estimates they can view and provide approval from any mobile device or desktop computer. Include images or short service videos to provide information and visual reference for your customers. Receive customer approval within minutes with a two-step authorization process. Record and track any recommended services that were deferred by the customer for future follow up and service bookings.

6. Dealer Currency

Show your customers how much you appreciate them and ensure they return with Loyalty Rewards. Provide incentives and reward dollars for your customers that can be applied automatically based on a percentage of their service invoice. Rewards can also be applied manually to a customer’s account as a promotion, a thank you or an incentive. And, all of this is done remotely. No physical card is needed to collect or redeem, and there is no rewards program that your customers need to sign up for. It’s a perfect extension for a contactless service environment.

7. Loaner Management

Manage all aspects of your Loaner Fleet, regardless of size. Loaner Manager will ensure your team will never double book a vehicle again. Reserve, book and return all from one easy dashboard. Create customized Loaner Agreements that will stay on file for each booking. Record any vehicle damage, including uploading of images, to be stored with each and every vehicle. Create receipts upon vehicle return for any costs owing.

8. Shuttle and Valet Tracker

Shuttle Manager allows you to book all Shuttle and Valet pick ups and drop offs from one centralized location, that all staff can see. View real-time visibility of all vehicles and track location at any time. Shuttle drivers can integrate with Android or iOS Shuttle App and receive all assigned trip information or claim bookings that haven't been assigned. Send automated link to customer once trip has been started with real-time tracking link so customers will know exactly when shuttle is arriving.

9. Digital Signage

VenueVision has been installing, managing and producing quality Digital Signage content and solutions for almost 20 years. If you're looking to update your facility, provide information and entertainment to your customers and get away from old school POP marketing materials, then you'll want to look into our Digital Signage options. VenueVision provides branded digital content on a National level for all OEMs, plus you have the option to add Custom Content or specialty dashboards such as Digital Menuboards, Integrated Service Appointment boards, Featured Vehicle screens and more.

10. Employee Screening

Providing solutions that help dealerships increase their Customer Service Experiences is VenueVision's main focus, but we also want you to keep your customers and employees safe. With increased Ministry of Health regulations from province to province, we have developed an Employee Screening texting solution to allow your dealership to quickly and safely conduct required daily screening questions for your staff. Track all responses and be alerted with any positive replies.

Make 2021 a better year, with better solutions for your dealership

The start of a new year is a great time to rethink, restructure and refocus. If there are areas or departments in your dealership that are struggling or need attention, one of our solutions could be the answer. Contact the VenueVision team (sales@venuevision.com) if you would like more information on any of our products or would like to schedule a free online demo.



Returning to a new ‘normal’

Posted by Nicole Diemert in Industry News, Mobile Payments, Texting | 0 comments

16.04.20

Changing dealership practices during and after Covid-19

Contactless Service Solutions

It’s easy to see that dealership processes and procedures will need to be changed to continue doing business during and after the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of these changes may be short term. But there may be some which could become the new 'norm'.

Now more than ever, dealerships will need to be acutely aware of every interaction with their customers, big and small. Providing contactless and touchless services, safe and secure procedures and timely, important information updates will be key in the months ahead — perhaps permanently. Keeping both your customers and your staff members healthy and happy will allow your dealership to stay open and provide the level of customer service that is crucial.

VenueVision’s suite of dealership solutions can help your dealership reach and maintain these new levels of service. Here’s how:

Keeping customers informed

autoTEXT has already been keeping dealership customers informed through the course of their Service visits with timely text messaging. Automated messages such as appointment reminders, vehicle check-in, vehicle completion and service follow ups have already been providing customers with their repair status updates. As a dealer, you can increase the benefit of these messages and the information they relay with specific customizations to your wording.

For example, your dealership can provide information on new service hours or procedures in your Appointment Reminders. Remind customers of your secure, touchless payment option in your Vehicle Check-In and Completion messages. Give specific contact information for customers who may have questions or concerns in your Service Follow up messages.

Let customers tell you what they want

With VenueVision’s Responsive Keyword Texting, you can use your messaging to generate automated responses based on customers’ requests. For example, Appointment Reminder messages can read “A friendly reminder of your service appointment tomorrow at 9:00am. If you would like our contactless drop off service, please reply Drop. Thank you.” When the customer replies with the word ‘Drop’ they are instantly sent an automated text message outlining the procedures your dealership have in place for a contactless service drop off.  Use these keywords for customers to specifically request information or other services such as contactless payment, Shuttle requests, vehicle appraisals and more.

Get information out to a larger audience

Send important information and promotional messages to a specific targeted list of your customers with Marketing Campaigns. Use this campaign feature to broadcast key dealership changes and news such as updates to procedures and practices, revised hours of operations, etc. Target specific groups of customers with timely offers or specials to help out your customers in these difficult times and remind them that you are still open for business.

Send repair estimates digitally

With more physical distancing comes more challenges in reaching your customers and conveying recommended service procedures. Reach your customers instantly with professional digital Repair Estimates they can view and provide approval from any mobile device or desktop computer. Include images or short service videos to provide information and visual reference for your customers. Receive customer approval within minutes with a two-step authorization process. Record and track any recommended services that were deferred by the customer for future follow up and service bookings.

Provide Contactless payment

One of the best ways to keep both your staff and your customers safe is to provide a fast, safe and contactless payment method. Send mobile links with Mobile Cashier to collect payment and deposits for every department in your dealership. Customers can access the payment portal through any mobile device or desktop computer. Within minutes, your customers can receive a link, access the portal on their device, review their invoice, enter their credit card information and send payment. Your dealership will receive instant notification that the payment was received.

With Mobile Cashier, there are no additional fees or card percentage rates per transaction and no holds on payments that are processed. It is the fastest, safest and most convenient payment and check out method for your customers and your staff.

Show appreciation now more than ever

In these challenging times, showing your customers how much you appreciate them and their business is very important. With VenueVision’s Loyalty Rewards program, you can provide incentives and reward dollars for your customers. Loyalty dollars can be applied automatically based on a percentage of their service invoice. Rewards can also be applied manually to a customer’s account as a promotion, a thank you or an incentive.

All Loyalty and Reward dollars are tracked in an easy-to-use dashboard. Customers paying with Mobile Cashier will be automatically prompted to apply their Loyalty dollars if they want or save and bank for future service. And, all of this is done remotely. No physical card is needed to collect or redeem, and there is no rewards program that your customers need to sign up for. It’s a perfect extension for a contactless service environment.

Contactless service solutions may be the new 'norm'

We understand that these are challenging and quickly evolving times. Being able to adapt, adjust and act quickly will keep your dealership running as smooth as possible. Providing a great customer service experience will always be important, but providing that service while keeping your customers and staff safe and healthy has become the new normal. Contact the VenueVision team (sales@venuevision.com) if you would like more information on any of our products or would like to schedule a free online demo.



The future of the dealership is in digital and mobile technology — and that future is now!

Posted by venueadmin in Mobile Payments, Texting | 0 comments

26.08.19

Dealerships need to embrace mobile technology to stay ahead of the competition

Mobile Dealerships

It’s become obvious that technology and mobile applications are running the world, and more importantly, the way businesses and consumers interact.

Consumers have grown to expect and rely on the instantaneous results and convenience of digital technology. Things have been drastically changing in the last decade in areas such as retail, the food industry, real estate and business. Now it’s time for the automotive world to catch up.

Stay ahead of the competition

In order to stay ahead of the competition, dealerships today need to fully embrace new innovations and adapt older processes to include these technologies. One of the most harmful phrases in business is “We’ve always done it this way.” Today’s rapidly changing business world is not the place for resistance. It's not productive to keep using old processes that have always worked ‘just fine’.

Dealerships need to graduate from some of the more antiquated processes that hold them back from improvement and modernization. How do you know if your dealership is stuck in the past? If your dealership still has dry erase boards with current sales pricing, out of date wall posters in service, is leaving voicemails that don’t get heard or calling around the dealership to see who needs a shuttle (to name a few), then you are guilty as charged.  

Modernize with mobile technology

Modernizing your processes is the first step to building a better dealership. And building a better dealership means building a better customer experience. Embracing digital technology and mobile solutions will get your dealership to that level. Here are some common areas of frustration and delay at a dealership that can greatly be improved with new technology:

THE CHECK IN. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Welcome and inform your customers as soon as they enter your dealership with branded Appointment screens identifying their appointment time and assigned Advisor. Educate and help upsell your current specials with appropriate videos and promotional marketing on digital screens.

COMMUNICATION. Keep your customers in the loop throughout their service with text alerts for appointment reminders, progress of their vehicle or unforeseen repair issues. Give customers a quick and direct line of communication to their Advisor with text messaging to address any questions or concerns they may have.

SALES OPPORTUNITIES. Your sales team can receive details about customers regarding possible trade in or appraisal opportunities. Digital screens can display Pre-owned vehicle inventory to catch the attention of customers in the dealership.

TRANSPORTATION. Imagine knowing at all times where your Shuttle or loaner vehicles are. With the right technology you can provide scheduling and management of your transportation vehicles and loaner fleets to keep all staff informed and organized. Keep customers in the loop about their transportation requests with text confirmations and links to track shuttle location and arrival details.

THE CHECK OUT. Decrease wait times and frustration at the cashier’s window by providing a mobile payment option. Allow customers to pay quickly, securely and conveniently ahead of time, and from any location. Give customers the ability to safely provide deposits or payments for parts, vehicles or warranties without having to come down to the dealership or give out credit information.

BEFORE OR AFTER HOURS. Not every customer is able to work within your hours. Your dealership can provide convenient and secure before and after hours drop off and pick up kiosks. No more guessing what keys go with which vehicle. Customers can input specific details regarding their service needs to reduce delays in starting repairs.   

Many new technologies to choose from

As you can see, there is a whole new world of technologies. Technology that can help increase productivity and customer service. Dealerships who embrace these digital and mobile technologies can improve in two major areas. First, it will make all of your dealership processes run more efficiently and profitably. Second, it will drastically improve the customer experience and let your customers know that your dealership is forward thinking.  

Investing in your customers and improving their experiences with your dealership will ultimately benefit customer retention and loyalty across all your dealership departments. And that is a very good reason to embrace the digital and mobile future!



Still not sure if your Dealership needs texting?

Posted by Nicole Diemert in Texting | 0 comments

04.02.19

Ask yourself these 2 simple questions

Dealership texting

In today’s technology-driven age, there seems to be a disconnect between how individuals communicate with each other and how businesses communicate with their customers. Can you guess what one of the biggest differences is? The answer is text messaging. If you’re like most people, the majority of your quick conversations with friends and family are via text message.

With 98% of smartphone owners using text messages on a regular basis, it’s very surprising to see that only 14 percent of businesses regularly use text messaging to communicate to their customers. Not surprisingly, a recent survey revealed that nearly 90 percent of consumers want to communicate with businesses via text.

Text messaging creates an opportunity for dealerships to share relevant information quickly with their customers. Communicating by text also differentiates dealerships by providing a direct two-way channel to drive added service upgrades, assist with sales increases and improve overall customer experiences.

Here are two key questions that dealerships should consider when evaluating whether to include text messaging in their customer communications.

1. Am I engaging with customers in their preferred method?

When asked which communications channel they preferred to use when engaging with a business, an overwhelming majority of consumers surveyed cited a preference for text messaging over other methods like email or voice/phone interactions. Text messaging was seen as being both more relevant and timely than email. Respondents noted they only opened roughly 25 percent of the emails they received from businesses, versus opening 90 percent of their text messages received from businesses.

Dealerships that still rely on email or voicemail to get time-sensitive information and offers to customers are falling behind and are not being heard. Consumers increasingly depend on and demand messaging services that let them interact with businesses in a fast and convenient manner.

2. What impact can text messaging have on my dealership?  

There are a number of cases to be made for introducing text messaging into your dealership. Here are some important factors:

Sending appointment reminders by text can help cut down on no-show rates and late appointment cancellations, which can often have the single biggest effect on lost revenues. Not being able to adequately prepare for appointments coming in can also lead to staffing inefficiencies and overall operational performance challenges.

Texting can improve customer satisfaction and overall service experience by providing accurate ETA windows and real-time updates and delivery notifications. Giving your customers a direct line to communicate with their service advisor will provide a level of transparency and trust that your customers are looking for.

Providing images via text message can drastically increase your turn around time for repair authorization. People respond to visual elements, so being able to show what parts needs to be replaced or serviced far exceeds the impact of explaining it over the phone.

Post service follow ups are a powerful way to harness immediate feedback from your customers. Dealerships can send messages or short survey questions and receive a higher response rate and respond to any customer concerns or problems that may come up in real-time.

Time to make the change

Dealerships of all sizes are beginning to see the benefits of incorporating text messaging into their communication services and are finding that the transition is not a painful or difficult process, but a rewarding one.  Those choosing not to support text messaging are not listening to their current customers and closing the door on potential customers who are actively seeking engagement and an increased level of customer service.  As a result, these dealerships are inconveniencing customers and ignoring opportunities to build their brands, as well as falling behind in keeping up with their competition.

Find out more about autoTEXT by VenueVision and the benefits this powerful, centralized texting tool can provide to your Dealership.