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The Big Picture: Staggering way to bring results

I had a disagreement with a senior AM100 boss a couple of months back, someone who I have a lot of respect for.

I was making the point that retailers are missing a trick when they insist on all customers dropping their cars off first thing in the morning for servicing or repairs.

If the work was staggered throughout the day it frees up parking space at the dealership, it improves the chances of people waiting for the work to be done – saving a courtesy car – and it creates the impression of a busy showroom with a guaranteed flow of customers coming through the doors throughout the day.

“But customers prefer to drop their car off in the morning and you can’t get them to change their habits,” he said. “Maybe,” I replied, “but it’s your business and your rules. People are happy to take an hour off or an early or late lunch if they are going to the dentist or doctor.”

He wasn’t convinced, so I didn’t press the point. However, I have since been to a number of retailers who do load their workshops with appointments throughout the day – including Peter Vardy, Ringways and Phoenix – and they are all benefiting. All it takes is a robust computer system and an efficient member of staff, and customers are happy to fit in with their plans.

This model is made easier by improvements in carmakers’ parts supply. It seems almost inconceivable that many still have next day parts delivery when they themselves are advocates of just-in-time manufacturing.

A few have started to move into the 21st century, like Volkswagen, BMW, Volvo and Ford, by setting up a regional hub network that enables them to offer same day deliveries, often several times a day.

Dealers can stock fewer parts; customers are more likely to have their cars fixed that day; and more parts are sold to independents – it’s a cliché, but that really is a win-win-win situation.

If your franchise partner hasn’t started piloting same day deliveries, ask your dealer council to do something about it – otherwise you and they will be losing out.

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