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New aftersales position could be key for customer retention

Specialist aftersales business managers could be the key to increasing customer retention for franchise dealers.

The Warranty Group believes this new specialist position could be linked to the aftersales operations in the same way as traditional business managers have worked in the new and used car sales departments.

The aftersales business manager would be charged with maximising the sale of service plans, warranty sales, as well as other aftersales key performance indicators.

Ian Simpson, The Warranty Group sales and marketing director, said: “Our experience in the last couple of years with selling service plans is that putting a ‘champion’ in place who has their own place in dealer processes produces by far the best results when it comes to delivering sales of the product.

“We have been working on extending this concept in a number of ways and arrived at the idea of a ‘superchampion’ – someone who is effectively an aftersales business manager – and whose brief is to maximise dealer profitability across a whole range of key indicators including service plans and warranties but also much more.”

This area was very much the key battleground for dealer profitability, Simpson explained, with franchise dealers finding themselves facing increasingly stiff opposition from independent and fast fits.

He said: “New car sales are likely to remain in the doldrums for some time, used car sales are steady but unlikely to show much growth, so aftersales is the main avenue through which franchise dealers can maintain and grow profitability.

“To do this, they must find new ways to retain customers over longer periods of time, and service plans and warranties are likely to be key tools in this battle. Aftersales business managers with a specific brief to cover this area will be, we believe, the answer for many franchises.”

Simpson added that The Warranty Group was talking to a number of manufacturers and dealer groups about superchampions and planned to roll out the initiative later in 2010.

He said: “In the early 1980s, as our predecessor company, Pat Ryan Associates, we were responsible for successfully introducing the idea of the modern F&I business manager to franchise dealerships in the UK. This was rolled out largely through dedicated manufacturer programmes.

“With the new aftersales business manager concept, we are very much following the same kind of development process, using our expertise to help dealers maximise the opportunities facing them.”

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