Mobile apps offer businesses many creative ways to engage both new prospects and existing customers. When it comes to auto dealerships, the number of possible features that can be included in an app is extremely robust. To give you a sense of what’s possible, we’re going to discuss some of the most obvious and basic offerings below.

“But wait,” you might say, “How do we get prospects to download the app in the first place?”

Visitors to your location
Well, for visitors to your location, things are pretty straightforward. Have a sign up or make handouts available that tell visitors that if they download your app, they’ll be entered into a contest to win a prize of your choosing (a coupon for 10% off servicing, some branded merchandise, local restaurant gift cards, etc.). Include a QR code on the sign that links to your download page to make things easier.

For those people that haven’t walked through your door yet, a little app advertising can go a long way. You can even include the solicitation for downloads as a secondary message on existing ads and marketing materials. In addition, be sure that you optimize your app store listing using the tips found here.

Okay, now that people have your dealership app, what can you do with it?

Push notifications
After a person has downloaded your app, you can send them messages that will appear on their mobile device. These are known as “push notifications” (because the user receives a notification that is “pushed” to their home screen, rather than “pulled,” or requested by the user). Your push notifications can contain any message you like, including updates about sales events, special offers, new models, links to videos, and more.

The point is, you now have an open channel through which you can communicate with your user base at will. Of course, you’ll want to choose your message frequency, content, and timing carefully to avoid annoying anybody. But because well-designed push notifications can create a boost in lot visits and sales, they’re well worth the time spent to set them up.

Inventory browsing
Letting customers browse your inventory on-the-go is a great way to connect with potential buyers. It turns each user’s mobile device into a virtual showroom that gives you yet another opportunity to impress them with your available makes and models.

Appointment scheduling
Don’t make it harder for people to schedule a sales appointment by making them call in – just offer mobile scheduling so that they can see available times and book an appointment easily. Remember, the fewer obstacles there are to scheduling an appointment, the more likely it becomes that someone will book one.

Information requests
Keep the lines of communication open by allowing users to submit messages to your team. Again, not everyone wants to bother with a phone call, and some users would just prefer to type in a message.

Contact information
This is the most basic offering you could have, and should probably be your top tab when your app is launched. Include your phone number, address, and a local map showing your location – studies show that this is the most-used and requested feature in the majority of small business apps. Many people who are out and about just want to know how to get to your dealership, and this will make it easier for them to do so.

Value-added services
For existing customers, an app can offer an unlimited amount of other valuable features, like service reminders, trade-in information, financing information, vehicle manuals, and lots more.

Let your imagination run wild, and your dealership’s app will soon become a great way to bond with customers, increase customer satisfaction, and boost sales!

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