The Year of the Teenager
The Multi-Point Inspection Podcast hosted four of our Dealer Marketing Magazine Experts to discuss whether Fixed Operations is ready for the teenage phase of vehicle ownership.
“Our vehicles are pushing over 13 years on the road. It's opening up all kinds of opportunities and profit centers that dealerships can embrace.”
People and Technology
It’s been a great few years for the fixed operations department. Some of the successes have seen recalls turned into 6 figure opportunities and according to Laurie Halter, dealerships are continuing to embrace AI, especially when it comes to streamlining efficiencies in fixed operations. As someone who is deeply involved in communicating the message of many successful automotive technology companies, Laurie is the first to admit that the real innovation of 2024 is all about people; “start with your people, with their development and training, and let it flow from there.”
Wait days tend to be easily perceived as and attributed to labor shortages. Sarah Vantine explains that, more often than not, simple operational efficiencies, such as managing your service scheduler and reviewing shortfalls between opcodes and bookings can greatly improve productivity within your existing department. Training technology innovation remains at the forefront of performance and is recognized as an initiative within our power to affect. With inventory and supply chain factors impacting automotive, as well as technician shortages, we really need to look at the customer experience as a whole within the fixed operations department to drive CSI and profit.
Potential Wins and Potential Losses
When we consider some of the governance, risk, and compliance faux pas of 2023, many of them seem to be founded in deceptive practices. Tom highlights the fact that deceptive practices extends to include any advertising that ultimately does not deliver on what is portrayed and this includes the fixed operations department.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Safeguard Rules were implemented this year and while protection of personal information may seem to fall firmly within the F&I sphere of operations, cyber attacks (according to CDK Global, 17% of dealers experienced a cybersecurity incident in the past year,) can target all aspects of the dealership which deal with sensitive and valuable information; this includes fixed operations.
While the right to repair remains at the congressional decision-making level, enhancing the overall customer experience within fixed operations could increase competitiveness and offer a safety net to those willing to fortify their department. Mobile repair, pick up, and delivery as well as various other trends and innovations were discussed which can offset the things that are beyond our control. Adding tires and accessories to your dealership’s arsenal is often an overlooked profit-generating aspect of fixed operations, according to Owen Moon. “We need to find ways to excel within this environment, we've gotten really comfortable with working inside the service drives for new cars.” Late ownership services are becoming more prominent “which is a good thing for the dealership because it's a customer pay opportunity, they are higher value repairs and so higher margins but some dealerships just haven't really been set up for that.”
Laurie, Sarah, Tom, and Owen all bring different elements of expertise to the conversation. And, like most (good) parent support groups, deliver insights that are honest and tips that are actionable and can help you prepare for the teenage years.
The full podcast goes live on Wednesday the 20th of December.