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How Technology Can Improve the Service Lane Experience

Posted by Amy Hite on Apr 18, 2022

Customers tend to distrust dealership salespeople and repair shops. They are on guard before they drive onto the dealership lot or the service lane. They’ve heard too many horror stories about vehicle repair and cars that turned out to be lemons. Or maybe a service manager or a mechanic pushed unnecessary repairs or tried to upsell other services. Your dealership may not do any of this, but it will still have to earn the customer’s trust.

Most dealerships deal with vehicle owners who make false service claims. Often customers will claim that damage has occurred while at the dealership and insist that it was not present when they brought the vehicle in for service. This can happen during pickup or even a few days later when they claim they first notice it. Without saved high quality images taken automatically during service drop-off, how does your dealership normally handle this situation?

With the costs of replacement parts sky high due to supply chain problems, this can greatly affect your bottom line. Without service lane security and technology to prove these claims are fraudulent, your dealership ends up having to pay thousands of dollars for expensive repairs.

Dealership Service Lane Challenges

Two big problems many dealership service departments deal with are theft and false claims. Unfortunately, the nature of how the service center operates provides crooks with an opportunity to steal vehicles.

Here’s a scenario. A suspect comes to the service center pretending to be a customer waiting on their vehicle to be brought out. When a vehicle comes around for a real customer, the vehicle is often left running or with the FOB in the car. During this time, the customer is signing off on the paperwork and paying the bill. While they’re doing this, the thief drives off with the vehicle.

When crooks aren’t swiping vehicles, they are stealing a lot of catalytic converters. It was not a problem until recent years. In 2018, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports an average of 108 catalytic converter thefts per month. The number of stolen converters went up to 282 per month in the following year. Then the numbers exploded in 2020. The number of stolen converters multiplied to an average of … not 500 … not 1000, but 1,203 per month! And that wasn’t the worse of it. The number more than doubled to 2,347 stolen catalytic converters in December 2020!

Organized crime gangs looking for catalytic converters often target dealerships. A Texas dealership had 21 catalytic converters cut out from its new cars over a period of a few weeks. And here’s where the supply chain challenges affect dealerships. There’s a shortage of auto parts, which makes the parts more expensive and harder to obtain. Dealerships don’t always know when they will get replacement parts to fix customer vehicles.

Car thefts also skyrocketed in 2020 and 2021. An NICB report has found that vehicle thefts went up in 2020 by 73,000 compared to the number of car thefts in 2019. By late 2021, NICB published a warning of historically high vehicle theft, carjackings, and violent crime.

It’s essential for dealerships and service centers to hold on to whatever inventory they have. This is especially true considering the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) indicates sales from parts, service, and the body shop department (fixed ops) comprise 12% of the dealership’s total sales and 46% of the dealership’s total gross. In other words, your dealership needs service lane security and technology to protect itself from theft and false claims.

How Service Lane Security Technology Helps Improve Customer Experiences

A dealership with remote video surveillance service lane technology can help protect itself from fraudulent claims. Any time customers submit a claim the service center damaged their vehicles, the dealership contacts the security company. They will have its security analysts search and review the footage to piece together what actually happened.

If it does indeed turn out that the damage occurred in the service center, then share the video recording with the vehicle’s owner. This provides transparency and builds trust. You’ll turn a damage claim into a revenue opportunity by fixing the damage and admitting wrongdoing.

Better yet. if the vehicle leaves without any damage, then you’ll have the footage you can send to your customer to show how your service techs took great care of their vehicles. This will lead to better customer experiences and stronger customer relationships.

You’ll save money by not having to pay for false claims. You’ll save your relationship with your customer when you graciously take responsibility for the damage. You’ll save time because service advisors and bay employees won’t have to inspect a vehicle when it arrives or departs. Video surveillance will take care of that or supplement their efforts as sometimes people overlook something.

Not only does adding video surveillance with remote monitoring help increase security but also boost productivity and operational efficiencies when you use it with service lane security technology. The video cameras can look for problem spots to help streamline the drop-off and pick-up processes. Meanwhile, service techs can quickly and effortlessly enter customer and vehicle information on apps for tablets or smartphones.

While service lane app capabilities and features vary, these usually give service advisors speedy access to important information such as a vehicle’s repair history. These apps can scan VINs, store photos, and make it easy for the advisor to add comments from the vehicle owner and the service tech. Some apps have the ability to determine how long each step of the process in the service center takes or identify patterns in a customer’s vehicle maintenance history.

These apps also make it effortless to be proactive in communicating with customers and using their preferred communication methods. Not every customer wants a phone call. Some may prefer updates by text messaging or email. These apps can send automatic and personalized notifications to owners with maintenance and other reminders. This will bring in more revenue.

As the techs work on the vehicle, the app can automatically forward the service techs’ notes and any photos of the vehicle’s work in progress. These build trust and credibility as well as create better customer experiences.

How Dealerships Can Boost Security and Operations

Your dealership can fight back. Many of these challenges will be solved after installing dealership and service lane security cameras that capture high-quality IP megapixel video. You’ll finally have the evidence you need to help stop fraud claims when you position the cameras within your service lanes.

One dealership had been spending $20,000 a month to pay out customer claims for damage done to their vehicles. After installing a service lane system, the company saw a fast return on their investment in video surveillance that costs far less than the $20K they were shelling out.

Service lane security involves installing security cameras that create high-quality IP megapixel video recordings. There will be three cameras installed for each entry lane to help prevent false claims of vehicle damage. One camera will be concentrating on the drive side, one on the passenger side and then another mounted on the ceiling to see the front, hood, roof and rear of the car. This allows the cameras to capture a 360 degree look every vehicle when being dropped off. The saved video recordings capture all angles of a vehicle when it enters the service lane and are stored for 30 days. Each camera will capture 4-6 images per second so we can make sure to get the best possible shot.

Any time a customer attempts to make a claim, contact Stealth and provide the time the vehicle arrived at the dealership. Also, provide details about the vehicle. Security analysts can find and share the video of the vehicle in the service lane to give you the evidence you need to determine whether the damage occurred in the service center or elsewhere. You’ll be able to show the recording to your customers. We can also help train someone at your dealership if time is of the essence and the demanding customer is looking for an immediate solution.

Unlike traditional dealership security solutions, video surveillance is proactive and can do more than avert crimes and prevent paying for false claims. Security cameras can help identify opportunities for increasing dealership and employee productivity.

The Stealth team shares video footage with dealership management. It will show how customers and salespeople move around the lot. Remote video surveillance that incorporates analytics will be able to help track shoppers to show you which vehicles they check out and which they actually buy. This information may help you better your inventory management and improve your marketing efforts.

You’ll be able to see how service lane operations function. You could identify areas for improving customer experiences. The video cameras can help spot bottlenecks in customers waiting to drop off or pick up vehicles as well as completing paperwork and payment. You’ll help improve the processes to reduce wait times. As a result, customers will be happier and continue doing business with your dealership. We’ve had dealerships who use video footage to train their staff.

Moreover, dealerships can be at risk for identity theft because they receive a lot of personal customer information to conduct financial transactions. Employee theft and embezzlement can also be a problem in dealerships. Dealership and service lane security technology aids with all of these challenges.

To ensure you maximize your investment in your dealership security, you want to work with a company that has experience designing and implementing service lane security systems for dealerships. Stealth has worked with many dealerships. In fact, we helped reduce the amount the Texas dealership paid on fraud claims.

If you work with Stealth, you’ll have high-quality security cameras with trained monitoring operators and video analytics watching your lot. Stealth’s service lane security cameras can watch more than just the service lane. We can monitor showrooms, repair bays, and the entire lot. To learn more about dealership security, pick up this guide to four auto dealership theft trends. Please contact us with your questions.