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The Challenges Dealerships Face with Their Fixed Ops Strategies

  • August 6, 2021
25 min read
The Challenges Dealerships Face with Their Fixed Ops Strategies

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Brad Paschal
Regional Sales Director, South at Fixed Ops Digital

Brad Paschal is the Regional Sales Director – South at Fixed Ops Digital, an agency that specializes in online marketing solutions for franchise car dealerships. He uses his experience on the sales side of the dealership to bring winning strategies to Fixed Ops Digital.

Brad is an eight-year automotive digital marketer who specializes in creative marketing strategies and problem solving for dealers. He is a 2016 DrivingSales Best Idea winner and presents at Digital Dealer leadership conferences and webinars.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • How Brad Paschal entered the automotive industry
  • Brad’s involvement in marketing and building the social media presence for a Volkswagen store
  • The biggest challenges dealerships face with their fixed ops strategies
  • Should dealerships separate their Google My Business from service and sales?
  • Brad’s advice on what dealerships should prioritize to set themselves up for success
  • Brad explains why he always wears a hat

In this episode…

For car buyers to continue driving and enjoying the use of their cars for a long time, regular maintenance, servicing, and repairs are very important. Many dealerships offer these services to their customers but the strategies they use to market them aren’t always effective.

Most dealerships face common fixed ops challenges, including too few technicians for the job and complicated service schedulers, which leads to loss of business opportunities. Not only tthe-challenges-dealerships-face-with-their-fixed-ops-strategieshat, but most customers do not take their cars for regular maintenance. So, what’s the solution? Brad Paschal advises dealerships to invest in educating their customers to get more of them coming in.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay is joined by Brad Paschal, the Regional Sales Director – South at Fixed Ops Digital, to discuss some of the challenges dealerships face with their fixed ops strategies. Brad talks about common problems he sees in many dealerships and shares his thoughts on the use of Google My Business for marketing. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics

Visit their website at to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.

Episode Transcript

Outro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast, where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay 0:14

Ilana Shabtay here, host of the InsideAuto Podcast where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. And before we introduce today’s guest, this episode is sponsored by The AutoLeadStar platform is built on a technology so powerful it allows you to market, sell, and service cars as you would in the real world online and at scale, making one to one matches between shoppers and inventory. AutoLeadStar is the only platform that is powered by scale, speed, and specificity to change the way dealers do marketing today. All right, we have an old friend on the podcast today. Brad Paschal, how are you doing today?

Brad Paschal 0:54

I’m doing great. How are you?

Ilana Shabtay 0:56

I am doing fine. I’m excited for our conversation today. But before we begin, I would like to give you the proper intro because it’s quite impressive. Brad here is an eight year automotive digital marketer, he specializes in creative marketing strategies and problem solving for dealers. He uses his experience on the sales side of the dealership to bring strategies to the fixed ops side. So we’ll be talking a lot about fixed ops today. He is a 2016 DrivingSales Best Idea winner. And he presents at Digital Dealer, I’m sure you’ve heard him there, DrivingSales, and a lot of other leadership conferences. And of course on webinars. Brad is currently the Regional Sales Director at Fixed Ops Digital, if you listen to our podcast with Owen Moon, he is the CEO of the company, so I’m glad that we’ve come full circle now. And we have another awesome person from Fixed Ops Digital. So again, thank you so much, Brad for being here today.

Brad Paschal 1:48

Well, you know you got going on. So that’s like, that’s like little league. So you got I’ve got it, I’ve got to bring it up to the majors. Now he’s let him know that. I want to make sure that’s not edited out either.

Ilana Shabtay 2:02

I won’t be edited out. When you’re listening. Just notice how Brad is representing you know, but before you got into Fixed Ops Digital, you were all over automotive, which is pretty exciting. Can you tell me a little bit about not just what you’ve done in automotive, but how you got into automotive?

Brad Paschal 2:19

Yeah, so it’s an interesting story of how I got into automotive. So I was a training store manager for a company called Lumber Liquidators, and one of the general managers came into our store and bought floors from one of my one of the guys that I trained and ended up hiring everybody at my store. And so two of them went to the Toyota store, and I went to work for john Luciana at the Volkswagen store. And, yeah, yeah, the famous john Luciano. And he had me selling cars and taking pictures of cars. And then I kind of transitioned to he just told me, hey, you’re gonna learn this marketing stuff. And so, Canada, marketing was kind of thrown upon me, and I kind of fell in love with it. And so I became the ecommerce director over bolt stores. And I ran that and met my wife, my wife’s the BDC, manager at the Toyota store. So we’re automotive family. And then I did that Best Idea Contest for DrivingSales in 2016. And shortly after that, had a bunch of vendors give me a call, and I moved on to the vendor side in 2017. So I’ve been on the vendor side for almost five years now. So it’s, it’s really interesting, and, you know, you, you get on that side of things, and you try to always remember what it was like being in store so that you can relate to people.

Ilana Shabtay 3:55

Yeah, that’s a huge advantage. I think of being a vendor that came from retail. But what if you started, let’s say, this was the Volkswagen store was eight years ago, right? What What did the marketing look like? They’re like, what? Because obviously, we’ve evolved so much as an industry. What were you kind of doing back then? That you think building building a mobile friendly website cuz?

Brad Paschal 4:21

Yeah, so so back when I first started, Volkswagen was locked into a cDk contract. And it was cool. It wasn’t even cDk. It was cobalt in their websites were horrible. So as soon as they opened it up, we were able to transition and the reports were sub kept waiting. And then we got hit with a diesel issue, which was 70% of our business. So we decided that like john and i had a call out and we’re like, 70% of our business is gone because of the diesel issue. So, john, I said, What are you gonna do? He’s like, I guess we’re gonna learn how to sell gas cars. That was, that was his answer. So he’s like figuring out how to do that. So john and I came up with like a program where we will go find any card that you want called car catcher, and they still use it today at the dealership where it’s like, we just started advertising that. And then we took a really strong community stance where it was like, we surveyed the employees, and we said, hey, what nonprofits or community things are you involved in. And then we created a community impact calendar, where we adopted a charity every single month. And we didn’t always pour money into it, because we didn’t have a ton of money as a Volkswagen store. But we’d pour resources or we’d help them with their marketing, or we’d show them tricks on social media, or we do things like that. So we came up with a saying that it’s always it’s better to be resourceful than to use all your resources. I like that. So that’s, that’s kind of what that’s kind of the stance that we took on the, on the on the, on the marketing when the DC issue hit, and then and we kept saying, hey, it’s one brick at a time. Well, now that store sells 250 units. And they have about an 18% market share. We’re nationwide Volkswagens about 2%. So

Ilana Shabtay 6:20

yeah, you guys have a great name, great brand. I think, as you were leaving, or as I got to know, you, you were really heavily involved in social media and building their social media out.

Brad Paschal 6:32

Yeah, and you know, I still go by they’re there, they use us fix ups, and, and we still throw ideas like we just, we just came up with a new idea that they’re working on, and they have a really cool referral app called Street Talk. That’s really interesting. And cute. Yeah, so it’s really cool referral app, and it does really well for them. It’s like you send a referral, and they, they pay out 100 bucks off of Venmo. Like, as soon as, as soon as the deal closes, you get 100 bucks through Venmo. So it’s like, fast instead of having to pick up a check or send it out. It’s super, I mean, I’ve sent them customers. And john makes me use the ad. And I don’t ask for referral. But they make they make me use the app, and stuff like that. But it’s super cool. So he’s on the cutting edge of a lot of stuff that that comes out, which is cool. They do a lot of videos in their service drive and stuff like that. One thing I really loved that john does, that really impacts the fixed ops side is that every single sales guy will introduce them to the service advisor. But and that’s normal, right? That’s a normal process that’s required. But what he does is a little bit different. He says, Hey, you know, Mr. Customer, this is your advisor, Josh. So it’s like personalized, like, this is your advisor, Josh, and each salesperson has an advisor that they primarily work with, right? Yeah. So like, it’s more personal, where it’s like, Hey, this is your advisor, Josh. And then when the technicians in the video, when they come in, they say, Hey, this is your technician Leroy.

Ilana Shabtay 8:12

Yeah, almost feel obligated to go there because they have a connection with their staff. Yeah, that’s great.

Brad Paschal 8:19

In so it’s totally different. Because you’ll have customers come in and one of those guys will be off and they’ll be like, Nah, wait, I want Leroy to work on my car.

Ilana Shabtay 8:27

Yeah, it creates a totally creates that sense. I love that.

Brad Paschal 8:30

Yeah. So I think that’s, I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m gonna do a presentation at driving sales, have a bunch of tips just like that, where I’ve, I kind of went out there and asked 15 or 20 people to record me two minute videos of fixed ups tips, because I think that’s something that we don’t do is like, survey the landscape and the pavement and ask people who are in the trenches about what are some best practices. And I think that’s a lot more valuable than me trying to come up with a presentation all on my own and what I think is best when we crowdsource. Yeah, so it should be pretty fun. I’m excited.

Ilana Shabtay 9:08

Yeah, well, on the flip side, and that transitions me into a question that I want us to cover today is what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see dealers make with their fixed ops strategy? Because, you know, I always start, we’re not, we don’t have a full focus on fixed ops. But we definitely try to get into the weeds and understand what our dealers are doing. And we’ve seen some some big mistakes, but we’re not the experts. So I’d love to hear from you.

Brad Paschal 9:30

Yeah, so the biggest thing that there’s a couple challenges, right? I won’t say their mistakes, but there’s challenges right now and fixed ops. Right. And the two biggest challenges are that I see right now, number one, is that if you have internal internal work orders going through or repair orders going through the shop, there’s not enough bays for customer pay, right. So you’ve seen a lot of people take internals off site, or they’ll take them overnight for the They’ll do something different. So that’s, that’s, that’s the number one is that. So the business is 642 billion last night last year. And dealerships captured 12% of that. Because we just don’t have enough. We don’t have our schedulers are out two weeks. So that’s, that’s one thing. The second thing is is technician recruiting. There’s not enough technicians out there right now. And independent repair facilities, grab a lot of the technicians. And so it’s very hard for, for you to get technicians. And there’s not like a farm system right now, for technicians. There’s nobody going in the schools and recruiting kids to come up and be technicians. So there’s two things that are plaguing the industry right now. Now, I’ve had recent conversations with people that are trying to change that. But it’s those are two of the things. And maybe one more if I add a third thing is the service schedulers, right. Like a pro tip would be to take five of your customers and invite them to dinner, and give them five different scenarios for each customer to run through your service Scheduler. Because service schedulers rely on the consumer to tie their problem to an opcode. Well, sometimes they’re clunky. And sometimes there’s too many opcodes in there. And sometimes it’s not. There’s bottlenecks that you don’t see because you’re you’re you’re either a technician or service manager. And so you know what to select. Well, a lot of times, customers don’t know what to select when they’re going through there. And so sometimes that service schedule will show two weeks out when you’re only a week out in the shop. Right? So a lot of those service schedulers were shot tools that were never meant to be customer facing. So I think you’re gonna see a lot of overhaul when it comes to that over the next year.

Ilana Shabtay 12:01

Interesting. And then do you guys suggest I heard this recently from from someone who is suggesting that dealerships should separate out their Google My Business or service and sales?

Brad Paschal 12:13

Yeah, that’s, that’s so the guy that wrote the book on Google My Business, right, George Nenni, he was the one if you don’t have his book, it’s A Car Dealer’s Guide to Google My Business, you can get on Amazon. It’s like 19 bucks. Right? It’s fantastic.

Ilana Shabtay 12:30

Yeah. On the podcast, and he he told us a bit about that.

Brad Paschal 12:33

So, yeah, so so George, I gotta throw some luck to him, because he’s, he’s awesome. There’s not a lot I can say about Google My Business that he hasn’t said, you definitely want to separate it out into departments. There’s even dealerships to have the Express and collision centers. And there’s a way to do that. He also has a really cool, Google Chrome extension called GMBspy. Yeah, that if you go to the Google Maps, you can bring that up, and it’ll tell you what categories that a Google My Business has on it. So he has a lot of those categories. Right now. I think there’s 23 different categories just for fixed ops. So if you have Express and service you you want to try to get as many of those categories as possible parts department. But yeah, technically. There’s a lady that’s an expert on on a Google My Business. Her name is Joy Hawkings. Technically, if you had a, let’s say you had a Buick, GMC, Buick GMC Chevy store, right? Technically, you could have a Google My Business for Chevy sells, Buick sells. GMC sells in parts and servers for each one of those technically. Now, that’s a lot to manage. But technically, you could have that. So you can have it for up to each department and every brand. Right? If what if you wanted to, it’s just a lot to manage. So they’re really focusing on that. We’re working on some some cool stuff with GMB. That hopefully we’ll be able to talk a little bit more about driving sales, or toward towards the later later part of the year. But yeah, that’s super important, because it really affects local search and how you show up there when you add those categories.

Ilana Shabtay 14:15

Yeah, I’m glad we got to bring that up again, because I remember I learned that from George on the on the podcast, and I thought that was fascinating. So I’m glad we’re emphasizing that on this on this episode as well, especially now, and most dealers are focusing on fixed ops without inventory. That’s, I guess, one of their main main drivers, although it’s always their biggest profit center. So I think now there’s just a bigger emphasis on it.

Brad Paschal 14:38

Yeah, you know what, something that allows on the not not right now, because things are crazy, right? But nine times out of 10, your top service adviser out grosses your top salesperson course. And we don’t do a good job of setting them up for success, right. And so that’s something I think we got We got to we got to put our fixed ops lens on when we’re looking at things on the website and marketing and stuff like that, too.

Ilana Shabtay 15:07

Yeah. And why it’s like one or two suggestions that you think we can do better on that in terms of setting them up for success?

Brad Paschal 15:14

Well, if you look at, if you look at the landscape of the fixed ops side of stuff as a whole, right, the majority of the business that we lose is after the free services are done, right. So So after the free services, or the maintenance package rolls out, it starts to if you look at it, it’s mostly late model services, like transmission fluid exchanges, brake pads, you know, stuff like that. That’s where we start to lose business. And I think, just from my research, it looks like, when’s the last time Let me ask you, what kind of car do you drive? Until embarrassed to tell you don’t come on point, just you don’t have to tell me about your

Ilana Shabtay 15:59

Acura or RL.

Brad Paschal 16:01

Alright, so you drove it accurate? When’s the last time you looked in your, in your book for the maintenance schedule?

Ilana Shabtay 16:09

literally never end, if you listen to the podcast I did with Owen, I got my oil changed out like something like that. And he was like, “No”.

Brad Paschal 16:16

Alright, so that’s so nine out of 10 customers? Yeah. So I never do that. So the biggest thing is, is that they don’t know when to they don’t know what to do and when to do it. So we have to take it education stand and say, Look, these are the services that we offer. And we have to be like Amazon, right? When you start when you go on Amazon, did you buy something on Prime Day?

Ilana Shabtay 16:51

I did buy in Prime Day. Oh, I bought I bought the Bissell vacuum.

Brad Paschal 16:57

Alright, so if you go on Amazon, and you search for vacuum, right? Or Bissell vacuum, your there’s going to be a search results page. This shows you all of the Bissell vacuums, right? Yeah. And you click on that Bissell vacuum, and it has a product detail page very similar to a VDP page, right? Yeah. So you wonder where we got the SRP VDP relationship, we got it from Amazon. So what we suggest is like a service menu page, tells all the services with transparent pricing, you can find out everything about that vacuum on that product detail page, right? Yeah. What we suggest is a service menu page, and then what we call a service Detail page if you need to drill down in the services. And the most important, the two most important pieces of information that most dealerships are missing is when all of the services are recommended. And how much they cost. Like that. So so people want transparency. And the transparency wave is just now coming over to the fix up side of stuff. Yeah. So by providing that transparency, what you see is you start to grab some of those late model services. And the older the car gets, the more problems you have, right? So you start to eliminate one line arrows and your average dollars per order, oh, go up because because just just by providing education, and a format that they’re used to, so

Ilana Shabtay 18:29

that we focus way too much on the sales side of marketing for dealers. And it’s really, it’s important to set that infrastructure up. So that service can be even more successful than they are than it already is fixed ops.

Brad Paschal 18:42

And there’s websites that they’re there, you’re going to when I say this, you’re gonna you’re gonna laugh. There’s websites that their default call to action on service specials. Is print coupon. Yeah, we actually saw that. And 70% of the traffic. Well, 70% of your your service traffic comes from mobile. Okay. 58% of your traffic comes from Google My Business on service side of stuff. So we’re sending them we’re send them to the thing to say print coupon and they’re on their mobile phone. They can’t print the coupon from there. Yeah. Be like QR code. Yeah, we do Apple Apple wallet or Android. Yeah. So So and then that opens you up to push notifications right? When they say it’s on those. But it’s so it’s so funny that they do that kind of stuff. So it’s it’s just one of those things where, you know, we’re getting there on the sell side, but we really need to focus on user experience. You know, Click Funnels style, click Amazon, click funnel style, arrangement on the service side. stuff in the, you know, another problem that we run into pretty often as OEMs pushing like duplicate content pages. So we have solutions for that where we can hide those OEM pages from the sitemap. So Google doesn’t crawl them, and you don’t get counted off for

Ilana Shabtay 20:17

that. That’s really smart. Okay, now, before we sign off, this has been an awesome conversation, I want to get the opportunity for you to tell us all why we can always find you in a hat. And I know you’ve read about this. But I want to make room for it in the podcast, but I think it’s just, it’s your personal brand. And you’re here representing yourself. So I’d love to do you could share it with us, and then we’ll

Brad Paschal 20:41

say you’re gonna throw a curveball. That’s funny. Alright, so we’ve been friends a long time. So when I got into the automotive industry, right, I was thinking about how to brand myself. And, and whenever you’re thinking about how to brand yourself, it still has to be branded towards your unique self, right? You can’t be a different person online and offline, and you can’t, you can’t flip flop back and forth. I feel like branding has to be authentic. And I felt like branding has to be a part of like who you are and a part of your DNA, right? It can’t change from time to time. So I thought about my childhood, and I really thought about it really seriously. And I went back, and when it first started in automotive, believe it or not, back then I had hair. It was there might even be a picture of this. It’s it’s like three inches long, and it’s spiky. And my Mr. st came in and saw me and he did not like my hair. He said, A hat’s free for that guy. That’s what he that’s what he told john. And so every sense that happened, I I went in and did that. And then I started wearing a hat and a polo with my name on it and everything. And that became my that became my stake. And then at a conference, there was a guy that worked for a big agency that started giving me a hard time about why the why were hat and told me that he wouldn’t go to dinner with me if I had that hat on. And so I was like, I’m a gentleman, I take it off when we go to dinner and stuff like that. But he was giving me a hard time. So I wrote a little I wrote a little thing about why I wear a hat. So it’s pretty much says like the simpler answer is that I really just like, I like baseball caps. I grew up working for my dad who was a plumber. And a hat was like the tool that you wore, right? Yeah. And so I kept the sweat out of your eyes, it protect your head when you’re crawling under houses. It displayed your logo and your profession. It was just shows respect when you had to went out to customer. So like old school, grassroots type marketing. Yeah, it was just as important important as like a lawyer in his briefcase or professor at the podium. That reminds me, it reminds me to work hard, all integrity lessons that my dad taught me that my word is my bond knowledge, utilize the tools that I have. It keeps me grounded and humble. And it helps me remember my roots has also transformed my brand when I go to places and it makes me memorable. So I’m more approachable and on the same level as my current clients. And that’s why that’s why I wear it because it lowers the bar whenever you’re talking to someone for some reason. And maybe it’s a combination of accent. And maybe it’s a combination of where I’m from the lowers the bar. And so it puts me at a place to where I can really connect with people. And one thing that it does for me that a lot of people don’t understand is there’s a lot of big speakers out there that have something called a psychological anchor. So it’s an act that they do before they go on stage. UFC fighters have it before they go into the ring. You know, they have different baseball players have you know, Sammy Sosa has his famous thing before he goes up to bat. Well, my hats, my psychological anchor to go to work, right? So when I put it on, I’m in a different mode when I take it off, I’m in a different mode, right. And so that’s, that’s what it is. So I have psychological anchors to help me with different things, and to switch my brain into different modes. And I think that’s important in the souls process. And I think that’s important throughout life to have those things set up. So that that’s it.

Ilana Shabtay 24:44

What a beautiful way for us to end this podcast. I love that I think it’s really important to consider just like being humbled and remembering where you’re where you come from. I mean, at least in you know, obviously in Judaism we have that because we have men yamaka and it’s like a very similar reason to why you were hot. So I love that. It’s like remembering your roots. Remember where we’re from. Thanks for thanks for sharing that with us. And thanks for all of your insight today. And for those of you who liked this episode, tune in to InsideAuto Podcast. You can find us on all mainstream outlets but also Thank you again, Brad.

Brad Paschal 25:18

Yeah, absolutely. It was a pleasure. Thank you so much. Yeah, it was fun catching up.

Outro 25:21

Thanks for listening to InsideAuto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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