Exploring Xtime

5 minutes with Jim Roche, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing & Managed Services

Automotive service departments typically haven’t been great at capitalising on price elasticity, which is changing consumer behaviour through flexible pricing. Xtime Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Managed Services Jim Roche explains how dealers can use Marketing 7 and price elasticity to generate business and win back lapsed customers.

What is price elasticity

It’s an economic term that essentially means you can change consumer behaviour by flexing your pricing. The more you flex your pricing, the more you can change behaviour. Hotels.com and Priceline use price elasticity to fill unused hotel room and rental car capacity, as well as airlines. Their inventory of seats is perishable. If the flight takes off and there is an empty seat, a revenue opportunity is lost.

Service departments need to start thinking about their service appointment inventory in a similar way. If you ask dealers about their inventory, they’ll tell you about their inventory of cars or parts. In a service department, a technician’s time is the inventory. As with airline seats, the inventory of technician time is perishable.

How does Xtime enable dealers to make full use of their service appointment inventory?

First, service managers have to be able to identify unused shop capacity. By tracking how many appointments are scheduled, how many walk-ins have come in and how many walk-ins the dealership historically gets, we know how much service appointment inventory is consumed and how much is going unused.

Second, service managers need to be able to visualise the unused shop capacity. Xtime has built a series of tools that enables service managers to see where there are slow periods, and project trends.

Then, with Xtime’s Marketing 7, dealers can craft an email that is sent out to targeted groups of customers, with a campaign targeting specific days of the week, times of day or both, to generate demand.

Tell us a real-world scenario for using price elasticity in a service department

Sure. You pull up the Opportunity Dashboard, and you see that next week, you’re not busy from 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. You know what your capacity is because you’ve determined it in Xtime. Using Marketing 7, you drive demand by sending out an offer of 15 percent off any service if you come in during that period.

Customers who receive the campaign can browse available appointments, choose the services they want and schedule the appointment online. The dealer can easily see how many customers have made appointments and redeemed the offer. The only people who can redeem the offer are those who received it and who have made their appointment in Xtime’s Scheduling 7.

With Marketing 7, you can also target groups of customers. We have found that price elasticity-related campaigns work well with recapturing lost souls, customers who haven’t been to the dealership in a year or 18 months.

Data from our Marketing 7 pilot dealers shows lapsed customers recaptured through Marketing 7 “lost souls” campaigns hadn’t been to the dealership on average for 2.3 years – that is found money.

You're going to be talking more about this during a session at the Digital Dealer Conference & Expo called “Using Closed Loop Marketing to Win Back Lost Service Customers.” What is closed loop marketing?

Closed loop marketing relies on data and information about customers and their shopping habits to determine what campaigns are most effective. Amazon is the master at it. You browse and purchase from Amazon, which then uses your browsing and purchasing history to recommend new products.

With Xtime, dealers can use Marketing 7 to create the campaign targeting groups of customers. Customers can then browse and choose services, and make their appointment. It is fully integrated, so dealers can see what actions customers take and the response to the promotion.

My service department is pretty busy. How much unused capacity are we talking about?

Our analysis of over 6,000 dealerships using Xtime shows dealerships are not using over 24 percent of their capacity. So there is room for improvement for almost everybody.

Add it Up!

$358 Average RO

Average RO for customers responding to Marketing 7 campaigns, based on data from pilot dealers

+24 Customers

Number of new customers on average per month who come in as a result of targeted Marketing 7 campaigns

2.3 years

Average time since customers recaptured through “lost souls” Marketing 7 campaigns had been to the dealership

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Service Star

AT&T Chooses Xtime for its Connected Car Platform

Telecomm giant AT&T has integrated Xtime with its connected car platform, which includes infotainment options, roadside assistance and remote dealership appointment management.

Xtime turns vehicle alerts into consumer-actionable events. When a driver is alerted with a service warning, they can schedule a service appointment with a preferred dealer through the telematics system, such as touchscreen, in-vehicle voice or mobile application. The connected car can identify any vehicle issues and Xtime transmits service details to the selected dealership and confirms the order.

See More Here
Service Star

With about 35 appointments daily and a new Express Service operation upping his walk-ins, Hyundai Burlingame Service Director Mike Curtis relies on Xtime to manage appointments and shop loading. Wanting to ensure he was using all available service department capacity, Curtis also recently piloted Marketing 7, which enabled him to send targeted email promotions to specific customer groups in his database.

Nearly 30 percent of your appointments are scheduled online by customers. Is promoting online scheduling to your customers a priority for you?

Yes, it’s something we focus on. Our customers like the ease of getting in and out, and making the appointment without having to make a call. They can do it from their phone or online from wherever they are. Once they realise how easy it is, it makes life easier for them.

For the advisors, cashiers and appointment takers, it allows us to have more hands-on time for people in the store, and our staff doesn’t have to spend as much time just making appointments.

How did you get the word out about online scheduling?

We talk about it to customers. It’s on our website, and we include a link to the online scheduler in every marketing tool that we send out, whether it’s direct mail or email.

Another way we’re building awareness is through “Ask a Tech,” a form in the Service and Parts section of our website that people can email to ask our technicians a question. People ask all kinds of things – When I hit my brakes it makes a funny noise. What should I do? Can I tow a vehicle with my Hyundai Tucson? Does my 2006 Sonata have a timing belt?

Some people use “Ask a Tech” because they have a hard time talking to an advisor or they’re worried someone is going to try to sell them something, and it gives them another way to communicate with us. Not all of our responses recommend coming in for an appointment, but a lot of them do. Our responses include a link to the online scheduler. We’ve generated a lot of appointments that way.

Awareness of online scheduling is growing. Our numbers are getting higher by the day. Some days we’ve had 50 percent of appointments scheduled online.

How does Xtime help with managing appointments and shop loading?

One of the first things we did when we started using Xtime was to shut off the appointment scheduler through the DMS, so that all appointments were scheduled in Xtime. That way, we can dictate our capacity and how many appointments we can handle in each 15-minute increment throughout the day. In the afternoon, for example, we don’t take waiters. It gives us more control over what our shop load is.

This is really important because we recently started offering Express Service, which is going to bring in more walk-ins. By managing our appointments and our shop loading well, we have the flexibility to accommodate unscheduled customers.

You were a Marketing 7 pilot dealer. What were your initial impressions?

Marketing 7 lets you do very targeted marketing. You can choose a date range, VIN or lapsed customers, or choose a time or time of the week that you want to bring in more customers. I liked the versatility of it, and that you can drill down into your database and market anyway that you want.

How important is Xtime to your business?

It’s extremely important and vital to our continued growth and success. It’s helping us manage our volume of vehicles effectively, which gives customers the perception that their time is important to us.

Especially on our busiest days, if the scheduler is used correctly and appointments are spaced out, we can get through more vehicles and feel like we’re doing less work. It also makes customers feel like they are not being herded. They have a time slot to come in and speak to an advisor and get the attention they need.