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Service plan to give Vardy aftersales lift

Peter Vardy Ltd is ready to launch its own service plan after a three-month trial which it hopes will boost aftersales activity at its four dealerships.

Service Assist will initially be sold with new cars on a peace of mind and affordable ownership promise before being extended to all-makes used cars and service customers.

The scheme is offered to new car buyers only at the point of collection/delivery and post delivery and not as part of the initial car sales process.

The company believes that there is only so much a customer is willing to accept during the sales process when they will also be offered finance and insurance products and other upsell and accessory products.

Chief executive Peter Vardy is looking for penetration of around 30% on new car sales with staff paid commission. During the trial, staff achieved a sales conversion rate of 15-20%.

“Our target in 2009 is to increase service retention by 10%. At the moment we are all over the place with retention ranging from 42% to 70%,” Vardy said.

The Vauxhall, BMW and Chevrolet retailer has also relaunched its website and has added finance and insurance calculators as well as What Car? reviews of its models. Vardy describes the site as his “fifth dealership”.

Internet sales manager Euan Cameron says around 30% of customer enquiries are via the website with half through email and the rest coming into the showroom after doing an online search.

In December this equated to around 25 enquiries per day. Five per cent of these enquiries are buying their finance online.

The group puts as much information about the cars online as possible – except mileage.
“This triggers them to contact the dealership,” says Cameron. “Our fear is that if we give away too much information, enquiries will fall.”

Customers can also request servicing, but they cannot specify times. “I want to do EasyJet style service bookings with different prices for different times of the day, but the software isn’t there yet,” says Vardy.

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