With the car market depressed and little sign of significant uplift every franchised dealer has to be focused on weathering the economic storm by maximising every aftersales opportunity.
One business already focused on the ‘one-stop-shop’ concept is Scotthall BMW in Leeds, now part of Pendragon after its was acquired from Jardine Motors Group.
In addition to new and used showrooms for BMW and Mini, it has a large service and repair workshop and a bodyshop with a separate smart repair section.
It also does washing and valeting, tyres and windscreens, as well as supplying genuine BMW/Mini parts to local independent garages.
Aftersales manager Kim Raw said the aim is always to provide great customer service by investing in in-house solutions.
“Customers are becoming more demanding,” he said.
“They want more for less, so you have to go the whole nine yards. We can meet any request from a customer without having to sub-contract to anyone or arrange for the car to go anywhere else.
"Keeping inconvenience to a minimum helps with customer satisfaction and happy customers keep coming back.”
In terms of competing with independent workshops, Raw emphasised the advantages of marque-specific training and equipment, not least in protecting the warranty.
“Main dealer technicians are trained by the manufacturers of the vehicles they work on and you have to have the specialist tools too,” he said.
“It really upsets customers when they have accessories fitted elsewhere by so-called experts and we have to tell them they have voided their warranty due to poor fitment.
"We quite often see cars with new tow bars or telephone kits and they have cut into the main wiring loom.
"Our advice is to always have these accessories fitted in the dealership.
“We have 18 technicians in our workshop and they have a minimum of six days technical training at BMW every year.
We are also one of the only dealerships in the country to have all our technicians ATA registered and we encourage them to go on to become to become senior or master technicians.
“It is important to do everything possible in-house and if you are lucky enough to have a bodyshop then it really is a one-stop-shop.
“I see subcontracting as taking away work from your own technicians.
"I have been in this trade for 40 years and ever since I got into management I have preferred to train my own staff and invest in the right equipment. Once you have paid for that, it is all clear profit.”
Raw said the performance of each aftersales area – servicing, MoTs, MoT failure work, tyres, warranty work, bodyshop work, smart repairs and parts distribution – is “pretty consistent”.
“Independents will take on anything to earn a buck and the franchised sector could learn from that,” he said.
“We have a good relationship with most of our local independents because we supply them with genuine parts.
"All the parts come with a two-year manufacturer warranty and we deliver too. We get three parts deliveries a day from BMW so if we order before noon we get a delivery that afternoon.”
Clever processes operate behind the scenes to make sure every opportunity is maximised.
“Since 2008 when the recession first hit, service plans have definitely become more popular,” said Raw.
“Because we are BMW/Mini we use their plans. They help to get cust-omers back into the dealership and they can be tailor-fitted to customers’ needs. Whatever the customer is willing to pay, maybe £40 a month by direct debit, can really add up so when the car is due for a service it pays for it.