Volvo’s network faces the challenge of halting a decline in service this year.
Volvo Cars has put greater emphasis on sales of parts and retail service hours, after 2010 saw hours sold by the network decline from 7,500 to 7,160.
“It’s not falling off a cliff, but we’ve had a privileged position of being number one franchise for service retention of cars in their first four years and that gives us the expectation that along with lower new car sales comes lower service business,” said Kevin Meeks, business and network development director.
“We need dealers to attack the independent and fast-fit sector. Customers buy the message that the independents are cheaper and more personal than the franchised networks but it’s a total fallacy.”
Volvo has been supporting dealers in getting their message across about value. Examination of their local independent rivals has found in five of eight cases the independent is not cheaper, said Meeks.
This year the entire Volvo network, 109 full dealerships plus 23 authorised repair workshops, has been signed up to Motor Codes.
The manufacturer expects this to help it in determining the customer satisfaction delivered by Volvo’s franchisees compared to independents.
Programmes are already in place to optimise retail customer value and satisfaction, through service plans, a national service price programme, MoT insurance and roadside assistance. Similar is planned for fleets, where Meeks wants the network to win all their business.
Retention of 0-3 year cars is as high as 81%. That drops to 47% with 3-6 year cars – still strong compared to many franchises, but figure which Volvo wants to improve on.
“We mustn’t rest on those laurels. For every customer back in the network there is another going elsewhere. We don’t believe that the customer should go anywhere else for their servicing.”
Service plan sales are already strong for new and 0-2 year cars; next Volvo will develop a plan for older used cars to enable buyers to manage their service costs and remain within the network.