While I still have a couple of friends who don’t use any smart devices, iPhones and iPads have become a part of everyday life for most everyone I know — heck, even my 88-year-old mother has an iPad and a smartphone.
The point is, regardless of age, most of us are incredibly comfortable with technology and the advantages it offers us virtually every minute of the day. In my opinion, this increasing comfort level will be the catalyst of a changing business model for automotive repair shops.
A year ago, I participated in a panel discussion amongst a large group of shop owners. The discussion focused primarily on the challenges facing today’s owners. I commented that “all of us need to start paying attention to the opportunity provided by telematics. At least be certain it’s on your radar screen. Start to identify the potential impacts telematics may have on your business.”
While I said telematics “may” have an impact at this meeting a year ago, it seems like it’s trending more toward “will” for these two reasons:
Convenience: Customers will be able to be notified on their smart device of an on-coming failure, such as low battery life. They’ll also be able to be notified regarding maintenance-related issues reminding them of an oil change or a recommended service interval. These notifications could relay the benefits of investing in service work to repair shops customers, making the technician’s job easier in the process.
Communication: Most repair shop’s customers maintain a hectic lifestyle. The more efficient these shops can make their lives, the better. Telematics is capable of notifying customers of potential failures, advising the tech of what the issue may be, scheduling and confirming a customer’s visit and ordering the part.
Great, but what about cost and ROI? Customers should like the idea of sharing their data with shops to ensure better vehicle maintenance, but the million-dollar question is who should pay for the OBDII-connected dongle and the related monthly service fees? Is it the shop owner? It seems that leveraging telematics could be a customer service opportunity for shops, albeit an expensive one if spread over an entire customer base. Is it the customer? Will the perceived value be great enough that most customers will want to invest in the hardware and data themselves?
But there are still more questions: Should repair shops be “all-in” now or wait to learn more? Is the local new-car dealer taking advantage of telematics and capitalizing on more service work, especially from Millennials? Can shops afford to invest in this technology, and will it pay off?
It seems the more I espouse on the topic of telematics, the more questions I have. I think for most people involved in the auto care industry, it’s really about learning more before we take the next steps. TelematicsTalk is there to provide you with the critical information you need to see how telematics will be impacting you and your business.