The crisis has led to a supply chain problem. The supply chain problem has led to a shortage of semiconductor chips. The lack of chips has led to a shortage of cars for sale, both new and used. As a result, automotive dealerships are struggling to fill up their lots. Having lots of empty space is never a good thing for a business. People will assume the business isn’t thriving and go find another dealership.
Fortunately, there is good news. You have options to take advantage of all the extra space that will expand your capabilities and grow profits. Best of all, it will boost customer service. It won’t require getting creative with parking to make the lot look fuller.
Here are three ways you can maximize your lot.
1. Add More Service Lanes
This is the biggest one you can do that will have a huge impact on your bottom line. After all, one thing that hasn’t changed is that cars still need servicing. Use the extra space to expand your service lanes and add other services.
Here’s one big reason why growing your service center should be one of the first things you do. According to J&L Marketing, customers are 86 times more likely to purchase their next vehicle from the dealership where they take it for maintenance and servicing.
Service lane technology
Hopefully, your service department already has dealership technology solutions to improve the customer service experience. The technology helps the service department operate efficiently from the moment the customer walks in or calls all the way through picking up their vehicle.
Some service lane automation makes it possible to track the entire process with tablets and other devices. Service technicians can update the customer’s vehicle status and have the latest information on hand when the customer follows up.
The technician can add photos and updates. Automation can automatically send those updates to the customers. They’ll appreciate the dealership for being proactive and regularly communicating. Anything that saves them from contacting the dealership reduces staff workload while giving customers one less thing to do.
The key to customer service and service lane automation is to create a seamless process and workflow from the time the customer drops off the vehicle to pick up. According to the annual Automotive Customer Experience Trends Study, 67% of customers select a dealership for service work based on online searches and reviews. Additionally, 87% say the online review sites help them select the dealership.
The goal is to proactively send regular updates to customers, cut wait times, and email or text service reminders to help customers remember to schedule a vehicle checkup. Bonus points if the technology allows customers to schedule appointments online or through a mobile app.
It’s hard enough to find employees at a time when there is a shortage of qualified techs. Service lane technology will help them do their jobs without wasting their time. It will let them focus on what they do best.
Add or expand service lane services
You may be providing some of these services. If so, you’ll want to put resources in place to support an increase in these services, especially alignments. They’re one of the highest margin services you can provide. If your service center does inspections, these will lead to more alignment opportunities.
Another service you’ll want to expand is your tire and wheel service. Many people may have their first interaction with your dealership through tire and wheel services. This is your chance to win them over. Because you have automation in place, you will ensure they receive the best customer service possible.
Adding more service lanes will help you prepare for more Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) work. According to Technavio Research, the ADAS market is expected to grow by $19 billion between 2021 and 2025 with a CAGR of about 8%. That means the market for ADAS parts and equipment will balloon. And that means more work for your customer service technicians.
2. Offer Services for Electric Vehicles
The market for electric vehicles is multiplying. Regardless of where customers purchased their EVs, they still need maintenance and service. One of the biggest opportunities in EVs is tires. That’s why you want to expand your tire and wheel service as previously mentioned. EV tires have a shorter lifespan than traditional tires.
EVs may require less maintenance, but they still need brake service, cabin air filters, and wiper blades. They still need to undergo inspections. This is your chance to upsell when your technicians identify any problems during inspections. Not many dealerships are known for their EV services. Here’s your chance to get ahead of the competition.
3. Invest in a Service Lane Kit
False damage and personal injury claims cost dealerships thousands of dollars in repairs or medical bills. And the dealership may not be at fault. These types of claims are hard to win without proof. When you don’t have this evidence, your automotive dealership will be responsible for taking care of the repairs.
Moreover, your insurance premiums may increase. You’re already having to pay for all the costs involved with a personal injury claim. This can include medical bills. Stealth’s Service Lane Kit solution protected a dealership from paying a personal injury claim in a slip and fall incident. The video recordings show that it was the customer’s fault.
Another time, a customer showed up at a dealership asking to speak with the service manager. The customer claimed the technicians had dented, scratched, and damaged their vehicle. Since the dealership was a Stealth client, they contacted Stealth for help. The video analysts reviewed the Service Lane Kit cameras to locate the incident in question.
Upon completing the video review, the analyst had the evidence that showed the damage was already there when the customer arrived at the dealership and entered the service lane. The dealership showed the customer the video and avoided the cost of a false claim payout.
These two scenarios are why you want to implement a service lane kit (SLK). This solution helps prevent expensive false claims. The SLK also helps protect your dealership by avoiding unnecessary expenses, helping customers feel safe, and increasing customer retention. False claims also affect your employee resources as techs will have to spend their time repairing damage at a loss for the dealership.
SLK consists of high-definition IP cameras that are pre-programmed with Stealth’s advanced analytics. These security cameras are placed in the service lanes and can document the entire exterior of all vehicles that enter and exit the service lane.
All recordings come with date and time stamps. This will help speed up the search for any footage to address any claims made by customers. The videos also show your dealership’s dedication to safety and providing top customer service.
How Service Lane Kits Can Benefit Automotive Dealerships
Service lane kits can do more than disprove false claims. One of Stealth’s clients, an automotive dealership, spent $20,000 a month to pay customers who submitted claims. Customers said the service center damaged their vehicles. Within weeks, the company received a return on their investment as the service lane kit costs far less than the $20K they were spending every month.
Dealers also benefit from added business gained by fixing the identified damage. So this can become a money-making opportunity.
A typical service lane kit involves posting multiple cameras. The number of cameras depends on the size of the service lane. Every camera has a different view. One watches the driver’s side, another watches the passenger side, and another on the ceiling can observe the front, hood, roof, and rear of the vehicle.
In short, the cameras together produce 360-degree videos of every vehicle that enters and exits the service lane. Each camera takes four to six images per second to optimize the videos. The videos are stored for at least 30 days.
Whenever a customer submits a claim, contact Stealth with the time and date of the vehicle in question was in the service lane. The video analysts can find the footage and send that to you. You can share that with your customer.
Unlike traditional dealership security and service lane solutions, the service lane kit is proactive and helps deter crimes and identify opportunities to enhance dealership operations and productivity.
The technology isn’t just for the service lane. It works with the entire dealership. The Stealth team can send videos to our automotive dealership clients. They can study the footage tracking the movements of the shoppers, techs, salespeople, and other employees on the dealership lot. They gain a lot of information to help them better manage inventory and improve marketing efforts.
The security cameras can find jams where customers wait too long to drop off or pick up their vehicles. In addition to lowering wait times, you could improve processes and ensure your staff spends time where it matters. All this together leads to happier customers and more positive reviews. They will continue to do business with your dealership.
On top of everything, automotive dealerships are at risk for identity theft. They have a lot of customers’ personal and financial information. Dealership security and the service lane kit could help alleviate this.
For the most effective dealership security and service lane kit, work with a security company that has experience with automotive dealerships. Stealth has worked with many dealerships. In working with Stealth, you’ll have high-quality security cameras with trained monitoring operators and video analytics monitoring your service lane, showrooms, repair bays, and the entire lot.