Kelly Blue Book's New Shop Search Tool Draws Big Numbers

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Feb. 26, 2020—Kelly Blue Book announced that its online service center search tool saw 1.7 million unique monthly viewers since its launch in September 2019.

The tool, called Featured Auto Repair Center, allows users to type in a make and model, a location and a needed repair item. The tool directs users to nearby dealer service center and offers a price estimate, as well as scheduling for some locations.

Jim Roche, vice president for KBB parent company Cox Automotive, says that any vehicle owner wants to know four things: What service is needed, when can it be done, who’s qualified to make the repair and what does it cost.

“What we built at auto repair guide is a resource for consumers that answer those four questions,” Roche says.

They also sought to boost sales to slow a defection from dealer service centers.

“By year five of ownership, only 29 percent are still returning to the dealership for service,” he says.

This comes as fixed operations account for about half of a dealer’s profits, Roche added. He says this due in part to the perception that dealers are more expensive. KBB hopes the pricing estimator helps in that area.

“But if you then look at the market research and all the competitive analysis, the dealer’s not more expensive,” Roche says. “They’re competitive, especially on the maintenance and the competitive items.”


Dealer Membership

Roche says that there are subscriptions that boost listings. A “basic” subscription will get a dealer a preferred placement on the results list and integration of service scheduling, Roche says. 

A “premium” subscription will also give a dealer a slicker-looking listing with more photos, a listed dealer rating and the option to add a promotion.

One ADAPT (a sister publication of Ratchet+Wrench)  writer took the tool for a spin. He searched for a manifold gasket replacement on his 2000 Buick Lesabre with 89,000 miles in the St. Paul, Minn. area. Six dealer listings appeared with an estimated service price of $302 to $356.

While there are subscriptions, Roche says that all dealers should be listed in some way.

“All dealers are listed,” he says. “Kelly Blue Book is a consumer-forward brand. So we try to give consumers a maximum amount of choice. So all dealers will be listed depending on what brand you identify or are associated with and your geographic location”


No Independent Shops

The Featured Auto Repair Center tool won’t show all repair centers, as independent shops are thus far left out of the program. Only dealership shops are listed.

“We had to pick a starting point, so we started with dealers,” Roche says.

He added that independent shops will be added at some point in the future.

“I can't tell you the exact date, but in the not too distant future, we’ll be adding independent service center options for consumers.”

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