New Keys to Help Marine Dealers Navigate Increased Service Demand

May 24
min Read
Dealer Webinar

[Webinar Transcript from May 2022]

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. We're going to be talking a little bit about how marine dealers can navigate increased service demand, especially in the spring time. We're going to talk about Kenect for about five minutes and then get into the meat of the webinar. It shouldn't be more than about 20 minutes, don't want to take up too much of your time. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to type them in over at the questions tab on the side panel over there, and we'll get to them throughout this webinar, or for sure, at the end when there's more time. With that, let's get started here.

Who is Kenect?

We're based on the Silicon Slopes of Utah, and we're a text messaging platform for marine dealers throughout North America. We were founded by dealers and built for dealers. So what do we do? We help you communicate more efficiently, generate new leads, collect payments via text message and drive online reviews. We're a two-way text messaging platform for your dealership, so you don't have to give out your personal cell number.

This platform is done through your existing business phone number, so we just call your carrier, set that all up, and it goes right through that existing number that you already have, so any customer that's contacted you in the past and used that number, now they can text you with that same number. We do web leads straight from the website, collect payment to via text message and then online review generation and reputation management.

Why text messaging? Because your customers prefer it. 89% of consumers would prefer to interact with businesses via text message rather than a phone call. 98% of all text messages are open with 95% of those read within three minutes, so you can see how often these texts are open, how you can get information to your customers faster, and especially with increased service demand it's really important to get information to customers, especially about hours, or what if you have some staffing issue, that kind of thing. You want to make sure that your customers know what's going on, if their part isn't in right away, let them know so that they don't come in and maybe clog up your service bay or come in for something you just can't fix at the moment. That's why text messaging has become such a preferred messaging platform and why customers are going towards it, because it's convenient for them, and they'd rather text than call. 96% of consumers find phone calls to be disruptive, and 78% of your consumers say receiving a text message is the fastest way to reach them for important service updates and purchases.

So what does it look like? This is what the inbox would look like. If you got a text message from one of your customers through a lead, through a little text us button that we can add to your website, or just customers that are texting in for information about something that they've come in for before. This is what it would look like. Similar to an email layout, you can see what the number is, where the conversation left off, but you can also assign salespeople or any employee that you want through this platform so that you can assign a salesperson to each individual customer, so they can talk to them, text them back and forth. It's an individual service, but they have access to this platform and are able to communicate through them. Then if that employee is gone for the day and that customer has a question, you're able to do the same thing and answer through this platform for them, because it all goes through that same business line, like we talked about. It's all through that same line that the customer's seeing and the customer is responding to.

Real quick, here’s what looks like on the mobile app. This is free in the app store, and this is also handy for your customers and your employees, because it allows them to go anywhere, so your employees can use this in the service bay. They can also use it to send photos, use your camera, also do video chat, so that's easy, especially if you're trying to explain to customers what you're looking at, you can just start a video chat on this app through the mobile app. It's really convenient for them to walk around with a piece of equipment, walk around the boat, that kind of thing, so that they can see what's going on, or if they're looking to buy something and you're saying, "Is this in stock?" You can take them out into the showroom and show them that kind of thing, so that's easy too.

Top seven ways marine dealers use Kenect, scheduling appointments, setting up automated reminders and sending status updates. You can also send quick information like, "Your machine's ready for pickup," send targeted warranty reminders or schedule maintenance notices, collect payments via text message. You can also attach and send photos, videos, invoices, and PDFs, and generate online reviews on Google and Facebook and capture more leads from Facebook, Instagram, and your website.

Navigating increased demand

So, service and parts increased demand, and that's what we're here to talk about. It's more important than ever to ensure that service parts are running smoothly. We really want to make sure that things are going as smooth as possible into the spring months, because that's pretty big for everyone trying to get in, they've seen the service demand pick up, and so we want to make sure that's running smoothly.

You can set up a system to ensure speed and accuracy between employees and customers. I would argue that's the texting system or texting platform, because it's going to save you time and save you money, and people don't want you to call anymore, so you have to text. That's easy for you to have your service department be able to just text a customer with information, text with whatever's happening. You can say "Here's a look at your part. Here's a look at what we're doing," send them pictures, all that, it's really easy and convenient, because you don't have to go to the phone, play phone tag. You can just take a picture and send it to them.

Text messages per month per location, we've seen obviously a huge increase, 55% increase in text message per volume per dealer year-over-year. Dealers are now completing entire transactions via text that sales and service and all of that's new. We've seen the demand or the texting go up all right before the pandemic and it just shot up after the pandemic, because that's what customers have been getting used to. That's what businesses have been using. They've been seeing that it's really a way for them to get quick information and a way for them to contact the dealer or contact the employee right away with questions rather than a phone call, which may or may not get an answer right away. They might have to play phone tag, or you might call somebody with an automated service and they might say, "Okay, we'll get you to the service department," that's time, minutes added to the phone call that they really don't want to waste, so they'd rather just text.

Also, with images we've seen an 80% increase in NMS message per dealer year-over-year. When pictures are sent back and forth, it usually indicates a service upsell or a serious sales engagement. what I mean by that is if your pictures are taken and it's sent back and forth, you're able to show the customer exactly what you're talking about, exactly what you're getting. You can actually have them, say, "Hey, we have this part in stock and it's a little more expensive, but it's in stock and we can put it in right now." Customers are probably going to say, "Yeah, put it in," because we know that everybody's dealing with supply issues and staffing issues, and if you want to get that part in right now and get your boat fixed, that's easy to do, really simple and quick. It also helps with service upsell and it helps in the sales department also.

Improving service through broadcast messaging

Broadcast Messaging is another tool that we just added that it's huge when it comes to making sure that you're keeping your service department moving. It conveniently sends a message to a subset of customers by creating groups. You can also schedule a message or send one right away and easily identify and reply to Broadcast Messaging right inside the inbox. You can quickly filter out broadcast messages based on scheduled or sent. This is what it would look like if you're going to start one, and this is for something like winterization, or spring sales, or if you have hours that are adjusted because of staffing and you want to get that out to a bunch of people, this is the easiest way and the quickest way to do it, and then also make sure that you don't have to send individual texts one by one.

So this is how it helps you with increased demand and helps you keep your service bay moving. Just click on that button over there, click Add, the name of whatever message you want to send, the group that you decided to send to, then what the message actually is, and then hit Send. It'll show you how many contacts it's actually going to go to, and then it'll show you what the message is of what you're sending, and then you hit Approve, and then it'll go into the inbox of the customer that you wanted it to, or any of the 300 customers that you wanted it to. That's what it's going to look like, and that's what it's going to be when you actually send one of these broadcast messages out. This is just to schedule online service, this, this particular message, but like I said, you can send one for hours, especially if you have staffing issues. That's huge, because you want to make sure that you're keeping your service bay moving. If you have more customers coming in than there are employees to work on their equipment, then what's the point, because you want to make sure that things are moving smoothly. You can send this out to a group of maybe a dozen people that you know we're going to come in, but you don't have the people to work with at the moment, so you say, "Let's reschedule. Just a heads up. It's going to take a little longer than normal," all that kind of stuff, just to make sure that they know, so easy, simple, convenient, and it helps with the increased demand.

Creating a plan for your service department

Importance of creating a plan, you want to set expectations about communication with employee to customers, trying to develop solutions like standardizing workloads, but also pushing back deadlines that aren't urgent. You want to focus on keeping the service department running smoothly, and if you have deadlines that you may or may not meet, you want to make sure that your service department's running smoothly while the increased demand is really high, automate certain tasks, and of course, text not call.

The other thing that'll keep your service bay moving is remote payment popularity, and we know that this is something that a lot smaller dealers are shying away from because they just don't know the benefits of it, and they also are hesitant. They don't think the customers really want this, but we've seen the increase and I'll show you the data here in just a second, but it's really gained momentum during the pandemic and hasn't stopped.

Customer convenience via contactless interaction, payment cards aren't going away, but will shift to remote forms of payment, and it's all about simplicity and convenience. “Consumers say they would prefer to shoot up online or on smartphones for home delivery, freeing up time for people and activities that are more important to them, so just family, friends, work, physical well-being, leisure and entertainment.” So customers have seen this during the pandemic and they really want to keep it going as we move on into 2022, because they know that it's convenient and they know that businesses should be offering it or could be offering it so the demand is there for these remote forms of paying.

Data around text-to-pay: we've seen 85% faster payment collection with text-to-pay. The payment is on time nearly every time, and this is the big one. 45 minutes is the average time per person it's saved in the service department during the daytime, that's huge, 45 minutes per transaction, per person that comes into your service bay or per person that has questions and all that because you're just texting them. You're not calling them. You're not playing phone tag. You're saving 45 minutes on average. That means it could be longer than that or shorter than that, but that's the average. That's huge when it comes to service pay because that's probably another couple of customers maybe, or maybe one customer, depending on how many people you have there, but that's definitely another customer, for sure.

Some dealers are now running over 70% of their service payments through text-to-pay, and 91% of consumers prefer the text-to-pay when they start using it. What that means is you may think that they may not want it or customers may not be into it, but once you offer it, 91% would prefer to use it once you start doing it. That shows you that it's there and it shows you that people are expecting it from businesses.

Why should you use text-to-pay?

Why would you use text-to-pay collecting payments? I'm not going to go through all of these, but I wanted to hit on just a couple. Allow for after-hours pickups and remote drop-offs by collecting prepayments, that is huge when it comes to service bay, because you could say, "I'm going to be done in about an hour. Here's the link to text-to-pay. Fill this out and then I'll meet you out front and you don't have to come into the service bay. You don't have to come into the showroom." Customers love that. You meet them outside. It also takes that out of one of your service bays. You put it in the parking lot and you say, "This has already been paid. You’re ready to go," and they just show up and you hand them all the paperwork and they move on, that's it.

Get paid faster and reduce accounts receivable, this is also where it saves time for your employees, because you don't have to have them on the phone asking for bills, all that kind of stuff, playing phone tag, trying to get people to pay. You're reducing accounts, receivable because the customer's paying and filling out all this information themselves, then they're sending it back and it's a hundred percent secure with next day funding. So you are going to get paid faster, and then you're going to also reduce the amount of time that employees are going to have to use on that system. So it's easy for them to make sure that they have paid and make sure that you know that they have paid and you don't have to spend hours and hours trying to get them to pay that bill.

What does it look like? When you want to send somebody one of those text-to-pay links, you click on little button down there, fill out the payment, request the amount, the invoice number, the description of what you're paying for, and then you send them this. This is what it would look like for them. So right at the top, there's your icon, so we can change that into your business icon, and then you have the transaction amount and the customer fills out all this information. With that icon also, you can tell them, "Hey, we're going to send you this text-to-pay link," and the way that you know that it's real is you're going to see our icon on the top. You're going to see it's from us and it'll be specified to us, and so you can trust it and send it back. That'll increase the level of trust with customers who made a use text-to-pay, and those that may be skeptical if they're being sent a link and they're not quite sure. You can double down, make sure that they know this is from you, and it definitely is going to come from your business so they can complete it and fill it out on the way back to prepay.

Locations with text-to-pay, this is what I was talking about with the increased demand in what we've seen so far. With 1600 plus locations that are using text-to-pay on a regular basis, this is just from us. This is just our platform, but you see in just two years, we've seen the continued growth. It's just grown exponentially 1600 plus locations in about two years. That's huge, because that's what customers are demanding. Over the pandemic, they've demanded it, and that's really what businesses have adopted and they really haven't gotten rid of it because there's no reason to. If customers are going to keep using it, why get rid of it, and especially if it's lucrative?

So text-to-pay volume, we've seen 15 times growth per month in two years, so more than $14.5 million goes through text-to-pay in March of 2022. That's what we are seeing in our data. That is a lot of money flowing through text-to-pay, but that just shows you how the increase goes from just about a million maybe in April of 2020, but now we're up to 14.5 million in sales. That's huge, and that's where the demand is. You can see the trend. You can see the line going up. You can see the years coming to it. That's what people are looking for, and this growth is really expanding every month. You can see as we get closer into 2022, it just keeps going up and up even higher. That's just because customer demand is there. That's what customers are looking for. They have seen text-to-pay and they know it's there and now they expect businesses to have it, so it's easy to adopt it, easy to get it done, not something that's as daunting as you may think, but definitely something your customers are thinking about and, definitely something they expect these small businesses to have.

So a couple use cases I wanted to go through just in case service department consumers has repairs done on their boat. You can text a payment to the dealership immediately upon completion, rather than having to pay an invoice or wait in line to swipe the card, so you get paid minutes and now hours or days. The line is also the big thing, because customers haven't had to wait the line over the last two years, so they want to make sure that they're getting that convenience and simplicity that they've expected over the pandemic of just doing it from their home and not having to wait in on.

Sales department, of course, deposits on new units, you can pay me over text rather than waiting to get a check to clear for the buyer, come and swipe a card. You can say if a customer texts in a lead and ask about a piece of equipment and says, "Do you still have this?" Or, "Do you still have this boat?" Or, "Do you still have this part," whatever they're looking for, you can say, "Sure, it's there. Would you like to buy it?" They said, "Yeah, let me put a deposit down," and you send them a link. They get it, and then they put it on hold. When they come in to actually pick it up, it's already on hold. They've already texted in their payment and they don't have to come in and swipe the card or wait for the check to clear. That's huge, especially when parts are so low and when a lot of inventory is low, it's really important for customers to be able to get what they want, this is a way for them to do that really quickly.

Importance of convenience, purchase versus intent versus asking questions, 90% of decisions are made before the customer comes in or calls. You want to make sure you're aware of that, especially with increased demand when somebody's texting in or asking you about a part or something like that, it's easy for you to maybe talk to them, because they know what they want already. They're asking questions, because they've seen the service that you're going to offer or the part that you're offering. Customers are buying independent of discounts. They don't really care about discounts on parts, so you're really giving them the information and making sure that they have all information about service, information, about people, information about staffing, so that you want to make sure that customers know what you're dealing with and any information that might come up that they need to know, you need to text them right away.

It's also digital across the entire funnel. Less than a third of young consumers prefer to conduct sale in person at a dealership. This isn't just young people. We've seen this go on over the span of all ages, and especially in the last two years. Young consumers were the main texters, of course. That's what everybody thought, but now everyone has a smartphone. We just saw a study from PEW that actually said that 81% of people in America have smartphones. That's 300 million people have a smartphone, which means that in some form or another they're using smartphone technology and texting is one of the keys there, so it's huge. It's what people are actually gravitating towards and have been in the last few years. So convenience and simplicity wins, and that's pretty much the dominant force here. That's what we're dealing with and talking about all the time here.

So the six benefits of Kenect, real quick, just want to go through these generating more leads from a website button that we add. It's a little “Text Us” button at the bottom of your website that people can click on and they'll send you a message and it'll go right into that inbox that I showed you so that your employees can talk to customers, and get on and talk to them about whatever they'd like and whatever they have questions about. Generating dozens of five-star reviews and standing out online to sell more units; using video chat to sell in sales service for more effective communication; collect deposits and payments from sales and service, which we talked about; texting from your existing business line instead of your personal phone, that's key here. All of this platform is done through your existing business line. We call your carrier, we set it up. It's just adding another tool to that line so that customers don't have to just call you, they can text you also. Saving time and selling more by sending photos, videos, and surveys, we talked about that, especially when it comes to upselling, that's huge and that's what customers are looking for. They want to be in it.

They want this your service department to be sending them photos, sending them videos so they know exactly what's being worked on. It's easy for you to do, especially if you have the mobile app and your employees have the mobile app and can do that very quickly.

With that, if you have any questions, please feel free to text us in. We can also set up a free demo for you so we can show you exactly how this would work for your business. If there are any added features that you might want, we can show you those as they come up, especially with the website button, the “Text Us” button, which is very popular right now. Obviously, reviews have been our key here. A lot of small businesses are really focused on reviews because that's where Google is really heading. So we can give you a look at. What that all looks like.

You can call if you need to, but sign up for that free demo and make sure that you get that information that you want there. Questions here, "Do employees have to pay for the app that we use for this platform?" No, they don't, so the app is free. It doesn't take up any space on your phone, any more space than the Google, the Gmail account or the Facebook account or the Instagram account. It's just a tiny little icon there and you click on it and then you're hooked into the system. Once you've signed up, any one of your employees can have access to it and can look at the inbox and can show what customers have texted in and what they're asking about, so they can have access anywhere, pretty much anywhere in the world that accepts a signal. So if they're out and about and maybe in your sales department, you're waiting for that sale and you're out and about, and you're waiting for the customer to text you back, as long as you got a signal, you can use the app and text them back, that's the convenience of that. It's free in the app store, so it's easy for your employees to download it and they don't have to pay for it.

All right. That looks like all the questions I have. Okay. If you want to get more information, please feel free to text us. Call us if you need to, and we'll get you that free demo. With that, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and have a great rest of your week.

Get texting for your business