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How franchised dealers can win more fleet aftersales business

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To win more company car service contracts, dealer networks need a better understanding of leasing companies’ priorities: efficiency and cost.

That was the view from Mark Connor, group operations director of Zenith Leasedrive, which owns a fleet of 80,000 vehicles and spends £20 million a year on servicing, maintenance and repairs (SMR) plus another £10m annually on tyres.

O2, Delphi and Vodafone are already offering on-board diagnostics tools to the independent aftermarket elsewhere in Europe.

The company believes all its vehicles should be maintained by franchised workshops, and it makes 85% of the bookings for its customers. However, only 65% of its customers go to franchised dealers and analysis of its SMR shows there are areas where independent garages are better.

The average lead time for booking vehicles in is more than a week with franchised dealers, against under a week for independents, and the average vehicle downtime is 1.8 days at franchised against 1.2 days with independents. “Most of our customers aren’t really planning their work. They ring us wanting a vehicle booked in for service tomorrow or a day or two after. The more you can do in achieving shorter lead times with provision of courtesy cars is definitely going to help.”

The average labour rate recorded by Zenith Leasedrive is £60 at franchised workshops, £43 at independents. “It’s value, not price, that’s important. Deliver a significantly better service and I will happily pay a higher labour rate,” he said.

Zenith’s leasing customers expect the workshop to get the service right first time, pick the car up as booked and deliver it back on time, washed and vacuumed. However, 15% of bookings have to be rescheduled because they were not booked in correctly first time and 20% of cars are returned unwashed.

Connor said dealers need to communicate effectively through the 1Link system and the telephone: “If there are problems, pick up the phone and talk to the maintenance team and sort them out. If the leasing company is kept informed, it can then set the expectations of its customers.”

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