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Dealer or Retailer? That is the question.

Dealer or Retailer? That is the question. September 11, 2014 by Mike Henshaw

We shop when we want to. We expect stores to be open 7 days a week, including late nights and we expect most things delivered to our door. This is now our retail culture.
So, how does this affect  Aftersales ‘opening hours’?
It’s not so long ago that 9.00 am to 5.30 pm was the norm and, if the customer couldn’t get back in time, their car was simply locked up until the next day or at best the keys left with a reluctant salesperson who also had to agree the final invoice and take payment from a sometimes disgruntled customer.
Saturday mornings were fraught times in Service department, with reduced staff and every customer wanting their car back by noon before the department closed.

Customer demand means that working days are getting longer, with no additional technicians or support staff in most locations. The process for many dealers is starting to creak and groan, yet often customers still can’t get the flexibility they need.
Hard pressed service departments are also struggling at peak times to provide the internal support that is needed. We should also remember the cash flow implications here. Last week I heard a dealer complaining that Part Exchanged cars were ‘stacking up’ at the dealership, because they couldn’t get them through the workshop for pre-sale preparation work.
Good news that service retail work is so buoyant that there is little time for internal work, but, and it’s a very big but…. Most dealers operate with a used car stocking policy of around 60 - 90 days. If this dealer is taking 10 days to prepare the cars for sale, the selling time is greatly reduced. For those of you who recognise the ROSI calculation here, you will see that not preparing the cars for resale quickly has a direct impact on cash flow and profitability.
Another strong reason to be looking at a new ways to be become flexible and extend service hours.
Most manufacturers have raised their game in terms of Vehicle off Road delivery, with Parts orders being accepted later in the day for next day delivery. Even at that, we are behind some retailers who boast ‘same day’ delivery. The bar just keeps on being raised.

We are now beginning to see more Service Department shifts being applied in dealerships along with extended opening hours, one noticeably to 2:00 am!  So you can go straight from 24 hour food shopping and collect your car from service!
These changes place a new type of pressure on our ability to recruit, train and retain the correct quality of people. It is these individuals who have to deliver the ‘customer experience’ we all talk about. A new ‘team shape’ is required to function in this dynamic environment.
I wonder if our management teams have a plan?



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