SMS Marketing for Car Dealerships

Cut through the clutter of traditional advertising for lead generation.

Car dealerships know all too well they’re not only in the business of selling cars, but also creating customer satisfaction. You might have tried and true advertising through TV and radio that has worked for decades, but more and more dealerships are coming around to seeing the potential with SMS.

Text messaging gives your car dealership new capabilities for buyer lead generation, renewed engagement with existing customers, and keeping employees in the loop in bold, new ways. Read more for all the SMS strategies car dealers can incorporate into their suite of marketing and communication tools—without the need for additional IT support.

SMS auto sales marketing

With SMS software, your dealership should test and track different marketing promotions. Get creative with text offers by having customers text back keywords related to your dealership or auto brands. Leave a short keyword on all your paperwork or on a showroom poster for customers up for text alerts. Try different keywords for different options like sales alerts, oil changes, specific car or truck availability, or even special financing opportunities.

For service customers or buyers who had an especially good experience with your dealership, send their phone number a link to provide an online review. Reward them accordingly with coupons and other incentives to keep them coming back and increase customer satisfaction.

Plus, text marketing gives your dealership a new avenue that can cut through the clutter of traditional advertising for lead generation. Whereas TV and radio ads may reach tens of thousands of people, texting is inherently ultra-targeted, and provides the ability for instant two-way communication.

Notify customers of vehicles for sale

Once your customer has provided their phone number and opted-in for text alerts, feel free to send them notifications for a variety of sales and discounts based on their purchase preferences, including:

  • Old model closeouts

  • New car deals

  • Used cars that fit their wish list

  • Trade-in allowances

  • Special events and shows

These potential buyers have already asked to receive promotional messages, so as long as you don’t overwhelm them with too many texts and focus on nurturing the relationship, SMS for lead generation can really be a fantastic selling opportunity for your dealership.

Follow up on car sales

As buyers, there’s nothing like driving off the lot in a new or nicer car, and that’s a massive opportunity where your customer relationship skills can really shine. If they’ve agreed to receive texts, thank them for their business and follow up to see if they’re enjoying their purchase or have any questions about the vehicle’s features or technology. The two-way text communication will go a long way in creating a memorable car-buying experience and future loyalty.

Enhance VIP customer loyalty programs

The auto industry in general faces challenges with recurring buyers. Part of that is the inability to continue to reach customers after they leave the dealership. Texting revolutionizing communication with your VIP buyers by providing a digital touchpoint to engage them. With connected car technology growing rapidly, your buyers will undoubtedly use their car’s smartphone app for your incoming messages. Here you can really nurture a VIP relationship with personalized texts as part of their purchase rewards program that drives long-term customer retention.

Text appointment reminders for oil changes and routine maintenance

90 percent or more of people read a text within the first three minutes. Whether used in conjunction with emails and postcards or not, a text is simply the quickest way to remind customers they are due for an oil change for routine maintenance. Your database of automotive customers should give you all the phone numbers and other information needed to pull and find out exactly who is due for what service. In your text, give your clients appointment options right off the bat and you’ll fill your service department calendar with limited administrative effort.

Schedule appointments with SMS

A phone call takes time away from your service team doing their jobs while voicemails can be a never-ending game of phone tag. You can easily schedule and confirm dealership appointments with SMS software, or let them know when a part they ordered has arrived with a quick text. And with confirmation texts before their dealership appointment, you’ll reduce the no-shows that throw off your daily business or service department much more efficiently than phone calls ever did.

Let customers know their car is ready

For longer service especially, customers will leave their car at the dealership and come back when it’s ready or may need to use the dealership’s shuttle service. You can enhance the customer experience and your dealership’s service with a friendly text when their car is ready or that the shuttle is on the way. Be sure to include any repair notes worth mentioning or things to keep an eye on. For added customer service, follow up on a later date to ensure everything is still working as it should.

Use SMS for survey feedback

Whether for service, the salesperson, or the dealership itself, you can gather near-instant feedback with a quick SMS survey. Pre-populate the triggered questions so customers can quickly answer automated questions and get back to their day. With all the data you gathered, you’ll be able to learn from and improve your service or promotions without having to record the conversation notes in a phone call from your service representative.

Text messaging for payments

The percentage of mobile users paying with their smartphones has doubled in just the last five years, and that’s only expected to grow. New mobile payment options and apps like Google Pay, PayPal, Zelle, and Apple Pay are making mobile transactions more of the norm than the exception.

Dealerships should use this opportunity to let customers pay for car service, parts, or monthly installments via texting. SMS is also an easy way to relay payment reminders.

For the users who prefer mobile payments, this is a welcomed opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and keep your dealership relevant. For users still on the fence, you’ll learn best practices for when they’re ready to try mobile payments in the future.

Vehicle recall text notices and alerts

Safety recalls are arguably the most time-sensitive pieces of information your car dealership customers need to know. SMS bulk texting allows your dealership to reach numerous customers at the same time, instantly. This proactive approach can also instill a layer of trust that money just can’t buy.

Keep dealership employees in the loop with SMS

SMS isn’t just for your dealership’s customers. You can use the company’s text messaging service for a variety of employee communications, including:

  • New sales incentives

  • A change in dealership hours

  • Team events

  • Vacation or sick day coordination

  • New training

  • Updated regulations

Develop dealership good-faith SMS practices

When you are careful and intentional with texting dealership customers, you’ll gain loyalty, build your car dealership brand and keep customers coming back. With SMS, be sure to:

  • Always get written consent to receive texts

  • Keep texts relevant to your business or brand

  • Send contact information

  • Keep it appropriate

  • Offer opt-out opportunities (and honor immediately)

You can read more about Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) on the FCC’s website.

Appointible’s well-oiled SMS platform helps dealerships drive revenue, loyalty

For a monthly fee as low as an oil change, you can add SMS to your dealership’s communication strategy and reach customers faster than ever. Appointible features powerful tools in an easy-to-use platform to help dealerships with a fleet of a hundred or a thousand vehicles compete in today’s digital landscape.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We have answers! Here are some common responses that may be helpful.

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