1: Electronic vehicle health checks
Dealers should act on eVHC information immediately to generate additional revenue, says Simon Verona, director at Dealer Management Services (DMS), whose eVHC module is installed at more than 700 dealerships.
“Correctly used, the eVHC should contribute a 0.2 hours increase in chargeable time and an extra £10 in parts for every invoice,” he said. “So if all dealers conducted 15 VHCs each day they should gain around £24,000 extra in annual turnover.”
DMS helped one nationwide dealership group tackle eVHC performance, resulting in an increase of about £830,000 across the network. The number of VHCs conducted rose by 17%, the value of the work identified increased by 54% and the value of work sold increased by 70%.
2: Tyre replacement services
The principles of being a good tyre retailer, which include understanding the market, stocking the right lines and having highly trained front-of-house staff, are the same for fast-fits and franchised dealers, according to Continental Tyres.
Dave Croston, general sales manager – business development, said: “According to GIPA research, only one in three regard price as the biggest influence on their tyre purchase, with things such as trust in brand and safety credentials ranking high on the list of consumer priorities. With franchised dealers knowing their customers, they can use this to their advantage in making sure they first promote the original fitment product, giving the best option to the customer.”
3: Online service booking
About 45% of GForces’ clients operate its NetDirector Service Booking, while the same percentage have a system other than just an enquiry form, according to the company’s regular audit. The proportion has grown significantly, in January 2014 it was 34.5%, 2013 it was 28.5% and in 2012 it was just 3.5%.
GForces’ system currently sits aside from the DMS, albeit with full reporting and functionality that would allow bookings to be made directly into workshop systems, but it says integrations are “in the pipeline”. While fast-fits have pulled ahead in terms of functionality and providing a joined-up experience, GForces sees the gap closing. Tim Smith, GForces group strategy director, said: “It’s the integration into DMSs that will really give franchised dealers a huge lead by ‘joining the dots’.”
More than 70% of people turn to the internet first when looking for a servicing outlet and 63% of consumers use a tablet to research aftersales prices, so a responsive website and booking facility enables them to make the next step of actually booking. GForces has managed to reduce its ‘drop out’ rates (people entering the booking process, but not finishing) by 62% by making tweaks including updating text, adding a ‘how to book’ video and removing unnecessary content.
4: Service plans
Since the introduction of Mitsubishi service plans in 2007, retention for the third service has increased from about 40% to almost 90% today. Sharon Townsend, Mitsubishi’s general manager for service, said: “Service plans have proven to be a vital customer retention tool for the Mitsubishi dealer network over the last few years. Customers appreciate the simplicity of the plans and recognise the benefit of the expertise of Mitsubishi trained technicians and genuine parts being fitted. With the new five-year Mitsubishi warranty, providing five years of inflation- proof servicing is a natural next step, which we are exploring.”
5: Budget-priced services for older cars
Launched in 2013, the Ford Blue Service is aimed at drivers of older vehicles.
The service promises a range of benefits, such as collection and delivery and fixed price servicing for vehicles aged four-years plus. Called Motorcraft 4+, minor services cost £125 including roadside assistance.
“Since its introduction visits by customers driving four-year-old-plus vehicles are up by 10% and the average age of vehicle using the Motorcraft programme is 7.3 years old,” said Ford of Britain customer service manager, Dave Phatak.
6: Extended hours servicing
At Knights BMW, extended opening hours have resulted in more work that would otherwise have gone to the fast-fits, such as tyre replacement following a puncture. Knights operates its workshop from 7am-7pm during the week, weekend hours mirror the showroom opening times and a small team of technicians work from 5pm-2am Monday to Thursday,
Since the change 10 months ago, bookings on Saturdays have risen 100% and 50-75% on Sundays. In the first six months of last year, before the system was live, aftersales reached 99% of its target, but in the six months following launch, the business achieved 108% of target.
For the group’s aftersales director Ian Dow, return on investment isn’t the only metric the business needs to consider: “For me, it is about customer service and offering more convenient hours for motorists to be able to utilise our services. The irony is, in the past, we forced some people into the fast-fits because they couldn’t use us at the weekend even if they had wanted.”
7: Simplify customer service
Volvo dealership TMS Hinckley was one of the first to receive the Volvo Retail Experience or VRE, which works with a number of other service initiatives including Personal Service, whereby the technician interacts with the customer.
Managing director Len Hallows said it is a ‘game-changer’ as it brings the one-to-one style of a local garage into a premium brand environment. Five months since the new concepts were introduced, retention among drivers of four-year-plus vehicles has risen from about 50% to 65%.
8: Promoting customer ratings
Mini introduced its online star rating review system in 2010 and about 47,000 customers left ratings last year, including 34,000 service customers. Based on a rolling 90 days, the January average for Mini Service was 4.5 stars, with 36 retailers (out of 143 in total) having a five-star rating.
The average rating at launch was 3.6 and just 16 retailers were awarded five stars. Scores ranged from 1.5 to 5 stars, whereas today, the range is 3.5 to 5 stars, reflecting the difference the system has made.
9: Customer service
Exemplary customer service has long been a Lexus hallmark and Edgware Road, a flagship site opened in 2008, has consistently scored 90% in customer satisfaction reviews administered by JudgeService.
General manager Diana Mackinnon said: “Being involved in the local community from golf clubs to charities and school sports has been paramount to our success. There’s no way the fast-fits develop and nurture those types of relationships at grass roots level which has attracted people to the brand, seen them return for servicing and make recommendations to family and friends.”
Manufacturers recognise the need to supply discounted parts to keep drivers of older vehicles in the network and many brands provide a secondary line of less expensive parts.
Lookers’ managing director Nigel McMinn said this has helped, particularly when vehicles are no longer in warranty, but added that it forms just part of the picture, which incorporates service plans (around half of Lookers’ customers use service plans) and fixed price servicing.
“We have become a lot better at talking to customers about the differences between what we offer compared to the independents,” he said.
“We offer a premium service which includes factory-trained experts, the correct diagnostic software with the latest updates, specific equipment and parts made specifically for a certain model. That puts us at a big advantage before we even consider other areas such as the complimentary valet, collection and delivery, courtesy vehicles and the comfortable lounge waiting area.”
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