Tracey E. Schelmetic
In recent years, the fact that BMW has narrowly outsold other luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Lexus has been partly chalked up to a savvy business strategy: making loaner vehicles easier for dealerships to afford. In some cases, the German automaker provides financial incentives to dealers to buy BMWs for their fleets of loaner vehicles, which is a terrific marketing strategy: customers like the availability of a loaner vehicle, and it allows the automaker to show off its latest models to service customers, which boosts sales.
Loaner vehicles are a bit like unicorns in vehicle service. Every customer would like to see one, but not many do. Without generous incentives from the automaker, the prospect can be expensive. While shuttles are an option many dealers choose, customers often view them as inefficient and time-wasting. There is evidence, however, that dealers are beginning to tap ridesharing for a lower-cost alternative.
myKaarma, a communications and payments software provider for automotive dealer service departments, recently forged an agreement with ridesharing giant Uber. The integration of myKaarma and Uber for Business is expected to provide participating auto dealer service departments with an easier, less expensive and more efficient transportation solution for service customers to further increase customer satisfaction and reduce costs.
myKaarma’s integration with the Uber Central API allows dealerships to book Uber rides directly through the myKaarma application with a fully integrated lookup and specify pick up and drop off locations on behalf of customers. The customer then receives a text message with a secure link for a ride based on their pickup and drop off location, according to the companies. Dealers can subscribe to the new service alongside myKaarma’s pickup and delivery module or as a standalone module. It runs on mobile phones, desktop, and tablet computers.
“Coordinating shuttles and loaners for customers can be an inefficient, time-consuming, and costly undertaking for auto dealers,” said Neal Watterson, Global Head of Guest Products, Uber for Business, in a statement. “The ability to make the entire process seamless is an important step forward for the industry at large — and can make a big difference in increasing customer satisfaction. We’re excited to partner with companies like myKaarma to make access to customer transportation simple and efficient for the automotive sector.”