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2021 Service Manager Survey Shows Speed of Transformation

Results of a survey of nearly 10,000 service managers show how rapidly digital transformation has changed fixed ops departments.


The results of a survey recently published in AutoNews clearly show the impact that rapid digital transformation had in dealership service departments over the last year-and-change.

The study, conducted by aftersales research firm Carlisle & Co., polled nearly 10k service managers at the beginning of 2021. The results show that new technologies and service practices have quickly taken hold both at the dealership and at customer’s homes. 

Serving customers away from the service lane

On the topics of pickup and delivery and out-of-dealership service, Carlisle & Co. found that an incredible 83% of service managers said they offer pickup and delivery for service customers.

Just two years ago, we published a report based on J.D. Power surveys that found only a handful – 4% – of dealerships offered pickup and delivery services.

At the time we published our report, we noted that dealerships had a significant opportunity to sell convenience to their customers. That claim was supported by the 76% of consumers who said they would pay between $10 and $75 to have their vehicle picked up at their home or office, and delivered again after service was complete. 

Rapid change hasn’t yet come to pass for mobile service, or service work performed at the customer’s home or office. But Carlisle & Co.’s survey results suggest that the 6% of service managers who today offer mobile service expect to see growth in that area. Today, dealerships that offer mobile service reported it makes up about 4% of parts and service revenue; in two years, they expect that share will triple.

Tech takes hold in the service department

Back in the dealerships, the survey data makes it clear that creating digital touchpoints for customers has become a priority. Nearly all (89%) of service managers said they provided some sort of digital tool for appointment scheduling, and more than 2/3 of respondents said they could text with their customers about service.

Scheduling and completing work are natural areas to focus digital transformation efforts first. Get cars in and get them back out, quickly. So what’s next?

According to the survey data, fewer than half of service managers reported using digital tools for customer check-in in the service lane. And just 10% said their customers could check-in on mobile devices.

Dealerware uses fully-mobile check-in and contracting processes to reduce service initiation time by 90%. Seriously – contracting with Dealerware takes two minutes.

For dealers that want to cross the “digital divide,” as Carlisle & Co. summarized their findings around tools and technology, service initiation and loaner vehicle contracting is the next area ripe for improvement. 

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