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Knights Group: Why we extended our working hours to 2am

Service advisers work no more than five days a week. If they have to work a Saturday or Sunday they have two days off in the week. “This is a significant improvement for some who were working every other Saturday morning and now only do five-day weeks,” Dow said.

The site also operates on a rolling rota, agreed in the consultation. Service advisers, for example, have a rolling six-week shift pattern whereby they work 7am until 9pm during the week and do two Saturdays and one Sunday, with weekdays off in lieu.  

To communicate the changed opening hours, Knights conducted an email campaign to current customers, but its big push was via a 12-week radio campaign on Stoke station Signal, with ads combining a sales and aftersales message

Its new location also provided an excellent opportunity to reach drivers on the traffic-prone A500. Digital signs on the side of the BMW and Mini buildings have been used to promote the ‘open all hours’ service.

A campaign for lapsed MoT customers has also been used to attract business at the weekends.  


‘We’re never going back’

Despite a lack of data on whether the changes have yet had an impact, bookings for the weekend on the Monday of our interview were at 88%.

Consultation on working time changes has started at Knights South (its Stafford centre) and will begin next year at Blue Bell Crewe. “We’re never going back,” said Dow. “This is long overdue. I am firmly committed to this. ”

He said there was no way to improve business efficiency within the traditional opening hours that would have had the same impact on customer satisfaction.

“We were working the best we could within the old hours. We made changes to ensure we were, but we’ve taken an additional step to provide what we should have been offering years ago.”

One of those changes was asking customers to take a photograph or record video or audio of a fault on their smartphone when booking an appointment. They then email this to a service adviser to help ensure a correct diagnosis of a problem first time.


UsIng video to increase speed and customer trust

Knights has also incorporated CitNow’s video technology in its business since January and it is now standard practice for all aftersales activities.

Currently, Knights uses CitNow in two of its three dealerships and there are plans to implement the technology in the third, with a target of producing a minimum of 10 videos per dealership per day. It takes a technician two minutes to create a video on average.

Dow said: “There is a direct correlation between the number of videos that we do and the success of our electronic vehicle health checks.

“CitNow also enhances the trust between the customer and the dealership; by being able to put the problem in front of the customer right away, wherever he or she may be, we can immediately solve any potential doubts or hesitations.”

For Knights, the main advantage is not only the trust that technology helps build between the customer and the dealership, but also the fact that it makes the whole operation quicker, which is particularly important for ‘red’ work.

By enabling instant decision-making by the customer, technicians can start doing the requisite work right away, saving time and making the process more efficient for both dealership and customer, said Dow.

Technicians will also go out on road tests in customers’ cars, to help establish the fault.

Two days before a car is due in, Dow’s team assesses the booking to establish, via BMW’s PuMa database, whether the problem has been reported previously. If so, the parts can be ordered in advance.

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  • busterrabbit - 26/11/2014 12:27

    Working on similar assumptions to Knights to give customers more choice/convenience, back in the early '80s the Sytner BMW workshops in Nottingham were open from 07:00am until 11:00pm. We used to work either an early or late shift with a handover period from 3-3:30pm. The biggest problem was getting customers to come in outside of the "normal" working day. Calling customers at 10:00pm asking for authorisation for extra work wasn't well received either. I guess the same would apply to requests to fleets via 1Link. We actually ended up doing mostly internal work in the evenings, so there was an improvement in retail lead times, but I guess the extra costs weren't recovered and after a year or so the system was dropped and we returned to normal hours. Most people are reluctant to "lose" their car during their leisure time, yes they'll have a distress purchase like tyres fitted; it usually doesn't take long and there are few variables. Taking your car for a service in the evening and "having a coffee" which turns into pads/discs and missing your evening meal/putting your kids to bed is not for the majority. It might help reduce unnecessary upsell though, with customers itching to leave to get home.