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Sewells best practise: Dealers fail to capitalise on servicing

Some visits to franchised dealerships leave us in a state of despair over the service department.

Dealer principals invariably claim the department is already working flat out with long lead times for retail customers. “We are already doing all we can,” they say.

Last month, we heard exactly this excuse. However when we started analysing service job cards, it became apparent that this service department did not even come close to providing the capacity needed to satisfy the dealership’s customer base.

Fewer than 25% of job cards were for retail business with the rest divided almost equally between warranty and internal (primarily new and used car preparation). What’s more, 90% of the retail job cards were straight services on cars still in warranty, and the lead time for retail customers was three weeks.

For this dealer, it was not a case of expanding service department resources to take advantage of the market, but expanding resources to meet their obligations to new and used car customers.

This was no freak – it appears record new and used car sales and three-year warranties have caught a lot of dealers napping.

The independent sector, of course, is happy to accommodate more customers. One sign they are interested is that the number of authorised repairers has doubled to more than 500 in the last 12 months, according to Sewells’ Franchise Networks 2005 report. At this rate, dealers with service capacity problems could see customers going down the road to the nearest authorised repairer.

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