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

Dow also defends the “first time fix” measure, regardless if it takes a number of days.

“If the car is here for three days, for example, but the customer never has to come back with the same complaint, most would accept that,” he said.

Measuring customer retention is also very difficult, Dow said, when BMW customers change a car on average every two years and four months.

“We have a window of two years before a car needs a scheduled service, to see a customer if something goes wrong. In reality, it could be four years before you see a customer for a second visit. And within that time it is not unlikely the customer has bought another car,” he said.

So where is the long-term secure business coming from?  How does Dow know that Knights is winning customer loyalty?

“Within the first three years from new, hopefully the car will have the BMW Service Inclusive service plan (which has greater than 80% penetration) or a Mini TLC (99%) and the customer is going to come back for service and repairs.”

He also highlighted the transient habits of today’s new car buyers. “Traditionally, a good measure of retention was how many retained service customers bought another new car from you. Now, with the growth in PCPs, customers will go to the dealer that can offer them the best monthly payment. This is not specific to brand – it’s now a way of life.

“We have customers who have used us for years, and they will carry on using us for years. They wouldn’t think of buying their new car anywhere else.  

“Likewise, we have customers that we would see for two or three years and give great service to and they’ll openly say they’ve received great service. Then they’ll buy their car from another dealer because it was cheaper.”  

Like many dealer groups, Knights has embraced technology, such as video and online service booking, to address these and other aftersales challenges. But it is the combination with its focus on the human side, bringing the business into line with modern retail expectations through extended opening hours, that Dow believes gives it the best opportunity to meet the increasing demands of customers.


Electric cars ‘still have a service schedule’

Knights North, in Stoke-on-Trent, is a ‘high-voltage’ dealer, which means it can carry out repairs on BMW’s new all-electric i3 and i8 models.

Dow believes the cars’ familiarity will ease their adoption, for drivers and dealers.

“They still have a service schedule; they still have brakes and pollen filters that need replacing. To an owner, the charging requirements are all that’s new. For us, there’s been investment in training and the charging points, but apart from that everything is the same. Such familiarity will smooth the transition from the internal combustion engine.”



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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.