The Dealership Advantage of Boosting Uptime

The frank Agency Branding
Summer 2017

The average commercial vehicle owner loses upwards of $800 per day when a vehicle is out of commission (according to Trucking Info magazine). For these individuals, uptime is not a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity for running a profitable business.

Dealers have their own role to play in maximizing uptime for their customers. After all, immediate service doesn’t solely benefit the vehicle owners. When dealers make it a priority to ensure their customers’ vehicles are on the road as much as possible, they create loyalty in their customer base that keeps them coming back for future sales and services. Additionally, quick turnarounds mean more vehicles in the service bays per day – and more revenue for the dealer.

Yet with the current technician crunch and the constant maintenance needs of commercial/heavy-duty vehicles, dealers often have trouble keeping up with demand. It would seem that some creative streamlining is in order to help dealerships provide more efficient service – and often this comes at the prompting of OEMs.

Offering Uptime Solutions

OEMs have been attempting to solve the uptime problem for years by establishing service programs that are carried out at the dealer level. For example, in 2017 Ford is rolling out its Commercial Vehicle Center program, in which designated dealerships become hubs for commercial vehicle maintenance. Over 600 dealerships are now considered “Commercial Vehicle Centers,” meaning they stock a larger supply of vehicle parts and have extended service bay hours. This allows for quicker turnaround on vehicle maintenance and service, so drivers get back on the road in a shorter timeframe. Or, similarly, Daimler’s Elite Support Certified program boasts a wider parts inventory and highly skilled technicians, and even provides constant communication with the vehicle owner so that not only is the vehicle running sooner, but the owner is always in the know on the timeline. Fiat Chrysler has its own take on dealer uptime initiatives with its Fleet Preferred Mopar Express Lane program, which gives commercial vehicles the priority in service and offers additional perks like free rental vehicles and towing.

But even dealers who don’t have an OEMestablished program can make the effort on their own to streamline their fixed ops departments and ensure that commercial vehicles receive attention quickly. Some dealers have made this possible by expanding their service areas to accommodate more vehicles, or by cooperating with other dealerships to provide “red-carpet” treatment for commercial vehicle owners. This involves guaranteeing that such vehicles receive assessments within two hours of arrival, whether in the dealership they are brought into or in one nearby. This cooperative effort is especially beneficial for dealerships who do not have enough technicians to give priority treatment to commercial vehicles.

The Impact on Dealers

Developing uptime strategies holds long-term gains for dealerships. These services have a huge impact on the dealerships’ bottom lines – in more ways than one.

Improving Retention

This point can’t be stressed enough: Customers who know they will get a fast, reliable solution to their issue will return to your dealership in the future. For this reason, it is critical that your dealership is committed to providing the absolute best service possible – as promptly as possible.

This could mean tracking which parts are needed most frequently in your service bays and expanding your inventory of these items. It could mean offering a prepaid maintenance package that includes a guaranteed diagnosis under a certain time frame. No matter how you choose to assist with uptime, the goal should always be keeping vehicles running, and thus keeping customers happy and increasing their lifetime value.

Boosting Sales

Maintenance and loyalty programs are a huge selling point for commercial vehicle owners, who are often willing to pay more for a vehicle if they know the value that’s included in the price tag: not just the vehicle, but also preventative maintenance to keep their vehicle running longer and with fewer interruptions. Including an encompassing maintenance program that is tailored to the needs of the business owners and emphasizes repair speed can mean the difference between a potential sale and an actual one.

Enhancing Marketing

Commercial vehicle owners see advertisements for vehicle discounts or finance offers every day. If you’re marketing built-in uptime programs designed to provide lasting benefits for the customer, you’re going to grab some attention.

By advertising quick vehicle turnarounds, technician expertise and certified parts, you develop a campaign that is entirely customer-centric and shows these business owners that you know their struggles and are committed to solving them.

The Dealer Uptime Solution

A dealer’s goal in defending against downtime should always be customer satisfaction. Cultivating this mindset is the only way to secure customer loyalty. If you can demonstrate that you are not only willing but capable of delivering better uptime solutions for the commercial vehicle owner, you will develop a partnership with your customer base that is irreplaceable and invaluable – and will help you gain a greater share of the vehicle market.

The more efficiently you’re able to turn out repairs and solve customer issues, the better your customer loyalty and retention rates will be.
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