Sytner claims the flagship facility, which was completed in November at a cost of £4.8m, has the only fully enclosed service lane within the M25. This allows BMW drivers to hand over their car in a warm, dry environment before heading to the adjacent lounge and using wireless internet access for work.
Service lanes are already used at several dealerships in America operated by Sytner’s parent company, United Auto Group. But this is a first for its Greater London operation.
Direct mailings and newspaper advertising have highlighted the facilities to local customers, but service manager Peter Chadwick says it is also attracting drivers from outside its usual catchment area. One attraction is its drive-through options for time-pressed executives – Chadwick says an oil change can now take place in just 10 minutes.
The Harold Wood centre’s main facility comprises a 20-bay main workshop, which includes an MoT bay and a four-wheel laser alignment bay. In addition, the building houses a dedicated tyre fitting section, PDI centre with five bays for vehicle programming, a smart repair area, two automated car washes and customer parking.
The 400sq m parts department, staffed by a six-strong team, deals with 11,000 lines and holds £180,000 of stock.
Chadwick uses Kerridge Workshop Loading to monitor all jobs in progress and planned, and is able to use its reporting function to see at a glance if targets are being met.
At present the workshop, staffed by 13 technicians and three apprentices, is achieving 91 hours sold per day. But Chadwick adds: “I want to increase this to well above 100, there’s no reason why we can’t achieve that.”
The standalone service centre has freed up the showroom’s original 13-bay workshop and parts store. In the next stage of Harold Wood’s refurbishment, these will become a separate Mini outlet, in line with the brand’s latest corporate identity.
With Harold Wood BMW’s sales and aftersales teams in separate buildings divided by a road, dealer principal Paul Freun believes added focus has to be on customer and staff communication.
Consequently, he ensures a sales executive occupies the workshop’s customer lounge on a weekly rota, to ensure service customers are kept aware of the latest models. In addition, all new and used car handovers are done in the service lane, so buyers are introduced to the service team.