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AutoPoint Blog

01Aug
2014

Fixed Ops: The Scramble for Technicians Begins

Posted by Manuel Soto

In May I wrote a blog article explaining how employee retention in service will become increasingly important due to many factors. Apparently, that’s becoming true faster than even I thought. Auto Remarketing published an article last week reporting that AutoNation and the Asbury Automotive Group are indeed discovering that skilled technicians are becoming harder to find. “In terms of roadblocks, obviously the biggest single roadblock, if you have facilities in place, would be the number of technicians,” said Michael Kearney, Asbury Automotive Group’s executive vice president and COO. Mike Jackson, AutoNation’s chairman and CEO agreed, stating that “it has proven difficult to hire qualified technicians.” ..


25Jul
2014

Sometimes It’s Better To Cut Your Losses

Posted by Manuel Soto

I am sure many of you have heard about the recent customer service debacle involving Comcast over the past week. In case you aren’t familiar with what happened, a customer called into their service center attempting to cancel his service after almost a decade. He was transferred to a customer retention department and, unfortunately, was connected with a person who did the exact opposite. The customer’s patience during this call is amazing. The Comcast representative hounds him for almost 18 minutes (only 8 of which were recorded) repeatedly asking the same questions in his efforts to either keep the customer or understand why the customer was leaving. The customer eventually succeeded in getting his services cancelled, while the Comcast employee succeeded in doing more harm to his company than good. You see, this customer recorded the conversation and posted it online. Since July 14, over 5 million people have listened to this recording. Countless articles have also been written during that time period. ..


18Jul
2014

The Key to Increased Service Absorption Is Efficiency

Posted by Manuel Soto

Last week, Automotive News highlighted Redlands Auto Plaza, a Southern California dealership that is doing some pretty creative things within their service department to increase absorption. General Manager, Loren Campbell, recognized that becoming more efficient within the service department was key to increased profitability and a better customer experience. “Time is the only thing we have to sell. The process is the key: quicker and simpler. That’s what customers want,” Campbell stated in the article. To achieve this, he paired up service advisors to work in teams so that there was always an advisor available to answer questions about any customer’s specific vehicle. Campbell also has the advisors serve as cashiers. This speeds up the process and prevents customers from asking a regular cashier questions that they can’t answer. The dealership changed the physical flow of vehicles by creating incoming and outgoing lanes and has added an appointment board, which, according to Campbell, builds credibility for the appointments in the customer’s eyes. These changes have resulted in an 18 percent increase in service absorption (from 56 to 74 percent). ..


11Jul
2014

Give Your Customers a Red Carpet Experience

Posted by Manuel Soto

Automotive News recently reported about a New Jersey dealership that has a VIP lounge for some of its customers – akin to the exclusive airline club lounges – in which customers can wait for their vehicles in service. The lounge offers fresh fruit, cappuccinos and has high-definition big screen TVs. Customers need an access code to gain entry. Their service vehicles have their gas tanks topped off, their cars are hand-washed and their vehicles are returned to them complete with “handwritten thank you notes and Godiva cookies.” You might think this sounds like a scene that would take place in a Mercedes or Porsche dealership but it’s actually happening in a dealership of a brand you probably wouldn’t expect… Hyundai. ..


27Jun
2014

Audi Wants To Supervise Your Technicians… With Robots

Posted by Manuel Soto

Last week, Wired magazine featured an article describing Audi’s ambitious plans for robots in local dealerships. A remote technician at Audi headquarters controls the “Audi Robotic Telepresence” robot. According to Wired magazine Audi claims that “the robot mechanic will improve speed and accuracy of service and create an improved ownership experience for the customer.” The robot can roam around your service bay independently and view and chat with technicians. Audi is apparently testing them at 18 dealerships and plans to install them at 100 dealerships across the country. ..


20Jun
2014

For Used Vehicle Acquisition, There’s No Place Like Home

Posted by Manuel Soto

One of the pain points I frequently hear from dealers is how to acquire frontline pre-owned vehicles for their stores. Having an available solid inventory of used vehicles for customers is imperative. Not everyone will be able to (or even want to) buy a new vehicle. To run smoothly and continuously generate revenue, dealers must continuously acquire vehicles. This provides available alternatives if a customer chooses to switch from new to used. In addition, the front-end gross profit potential from a used vehicle is typically higher than that of a new vehicle. However, competition to acquire these units can be very heavy at physical and online auctions. And dealers frequently fail to purchase as many as they would like because of inflated bidding. Once transportation and reconditioning costs are integrated, used car managers can be forced to pass on some pretty desirable units for their stores. Due to these challenges, dealers are having to be more creative in finding this inventory. ..


13Jun
2014

For Employees, Recognition Trumps Money

Posted by Manuel Soto

In case you weren’t aware, this week is Automotive Service Professionals week. Established in 2001 by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), this week celebrates all of the men and women who have chosen automotive repair as their profession. Automotive Service Professionals week offers a great opportunity to recognize your service department technicians. Many dealerships use spiff money for rewards. Money is certainly something most need and want. However, according to a recent article by Psychology Today, a new study of 1,200 U.S. employees, from a broad cross-section of industries, found that money is not as high on the list as some might think. 70% of employees responded that their most meaningful recognition ‘had no dollar value.’ The study was conducted by Make Their Day, an employee motivation firm, and Badgeville, a company that uses game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. ..


06Jun
2014

Volvo Announces In Car Service Appointment Scheduling: What That Means For Dealers

Posted by Manuel Soto

Every day automotive manufacturers announce new technology they plan to introduce into their vehicles. Tuesday, Volvo announced that their XC90 will not only tell the driver when it’s time to visit the garage, but also suggest an appointment at their Volvo dealership. Service notifications within a vehicle are far from new. At it’s very basic; a check engine light is simply a service notification. Through the years there has been a progression in the sophistication of these reminders. They have grown from simple text reminders, to the more sophisticated On-Star reports that are e-mailed to the customer while also notifying the dealer. The system Volvo has named “The Connected Service Booking” application is unique in that it is the first of its kind to take service reminders to the next level. It enables the vehicle owner to recognize that their vehicle needs service. And it also makes the process of scheduling a service appointment convenient as it is built into the vehicle’s computer system. In so doing, Volvo has shown the value that technology and connected cars bring to dealership service departments. ..


31May
2014

5 Reasons Video Can Help Increase Service Revenue

Posted by Manuel Soto

In our modern world of technology and instant information, consumers are increasingly seeking answers to their questions online rather than asking a business for it. One way that consumers are doing this is through video content they find online. Video content provides many benefits for consumers as well as businesses. In the automotive industry, there are many companies that laud the benefits of video marketing of inventory. Why? Because it works. Consumers who are in market for a vehicle, especially a pre-owned vehicle, get a much better idea of the vehicle’s condition and features through live video walk-arounds than through the few staged photos that many dealerships offer on their website.  The same principle applies to your service department. ..


23May
2014

Why Employee Retention in Service Is More Important Than Ever

Posted by Manuel Soto

A recent Automotive News article covered the decrease in trained automotive service technicians graduating from vocational schools. Not only are the vocational schools producing fewer graduates in the automotive repair field, but the training they receive is dated. Many vocational schools cannot afford the high tech equipment that today’s modern vehicles demand. This results in students that are ill equipped to smoothly transition from school to a career as a technician.  Additionally, according to the article, some OEM training programs also “aren’t providing enough updated, hands-on training.” ..


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