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Bodyshops in focus: View accidents as a profit source not a nuisance

Too many dealers look at an accident damaged vehicle, and its owner, as a problem.

It’s an expensive approach, one that could cost the dealer a share of the potential £400m pot from credit hire, not to mention extra revenue from OE parts, labour and, in 50% of cases, a new car sale six months down the line.

So what’s going wrong? A lot of the problem is down to a lack of understanding of customer rights. Quite often, dealership staff don’t have a clue about the basic of like-for-like replacement vehicles. It’s law!

Training programmes are one way of tackling this, but it needs the dealer principal and departmental managers to really grasp the opportunity and educate their staff.

Dealerships without a bodyshop on site compound the problem. This physical distance places a further mental block in the way of capitalising on the no-risk, pure profit opportunity presented by accident management.

‘No bodyshop’ does not mean ‘no revenue’ from customers involved in accidents.

Then there is the perennial issue of communication. All departments should be aware of the importance to the business of a) identifying, b) helping and c) managing customers who’ve been involved in an accident. Perhaps the ‘radical’ advice is to appoint someone whose sole responsibility is to manage this process.

Naturally this leads to the question of the motivational rewards available through accident management. Front line staff need to be incentivised to help recognise the opportunities to retain the customer. Get it wrong and you’ll be saying goodbye to more profit.

When dealers are bemoaning sluggish sales, and squeezed margins, one thing remains consistent – people have accidents; and accidents equal profit. You can earn as much from looking after an existing customer involved in a crash as a new one walking through the door.

A new phrase for you: look after the customers, and they’ll look after your profit.

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