How to Put a Stop to Common Problems at a Dealership Service Center

Posted by James Thompson on January 27, 2022

When people complain about their experiences with a dealership’s service department. They typically claim that after taking their vehicle in for service, there are new problems or damage to their vehicle. They want to know what to do if the mechanic breaks something or damaged the vehicle and the dealership to pay for it.

A quick search on the internet reveals how easy it is to file a complaint or sue a car dealership for bad service. Even when you type "dealership service department," "scams" shows up as one of the search phrase suggestions. These are examples of ways that dealership service departments face a lot of challenges. Customers complain in public and, in some cases, hire a lawyer.

Customers tend to distrust repair shops and dealership salespeople because of how their friends and family complain. They've been burned in the past by service departments that upsell unnecessary services and repairs. Even if your dealership is honest and does the right thing, you will have to earn and keep the customer's trust with clear communication and accountability

Dealership Service Center Problems

Two of the biggest problems the dealership service department deals with are false claims and theft. Here's a scenario.

The customer comes to the service center to pick up their serviced vehicle. They drive home only to notice dents, scrapes, and other damage to the vehicle. They hastily contact the dealership claiming the service department caused the damage. Without the right security technology to provide the customer with evidence to prove these are false claims, the dealership will have to pay thousands for expensive repairs. Or worse, be named in a lawsuit.

The service department area is also at risk for thieves to steal a vehicle. They pretend they're a customer waiting for their car. When the vehicle pulls up for the customer to pick up, the vehicle is often left running idly while the key FOB is in the car. While the customer is at the cashier paying their invoice, the thief drives away with the vehicle effortlessly.

When criminals aren't stealing vehicles, they are stealing catalytic converters in droves. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports an average of 108 catalytic converter thefts per month in 2018. In 2019, the number of stolen converters climbed to 282 per month. Then the numbers exploded. In 2020, the number of stolen converters multiplied to an average of 1,203 per month. That number more than doubled in December 2020 with 2,347 catalytic converters stolen.

Car thefts surged to new levels in 2020 and 2021 didn't fare much better. Auto thefts increased in 2020 by almost 10 percent compared to the previous year according to the NICB. In late 2021, NICB issued a warning of historically high auto theft, violent crime, and carjackings.

Criminals seeking catalytic converters often target dealerships. One dealership in Texas has had 21 catalytic converters cut out from its new cars over a few weeks. Due to the supply chain issues causing inventory problems for auto parts, it is taking more than a month to replace them.

Additionally, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) says the service and parts departments make 49.6% of a dealership’s profit. Reviewing your service department's processes to ensure protecting your customers vehicles from theft and mitigating false claims are imbedded in your operations to boost profits and customer satisfaction while reducing unnecessary expenses.

1. Streamline Dealership Service Center Processes

Most service departments are mobile and rely on tablets and smartphones to digitize the traditional paperwork flow..

Features vary based on technology or software, but the right technology will give the service department tools and access to be more efficient and effective for their customers. For example, mechanics often use tablets to provide updates on the repair work. They reference the vehicle's history to see what past repair and service work have been done. The sales team can use technology to add service requests or comments from the customer, store photos, scan VINs, and more.

Reports are produced to show how much time each step of their service process takes identifying bottlenecks to help you focus your efforts on what part of the process needs modifying. The necessity of investing in the right solution is that your advisors and technicians spend more time with the customer and less on inefficient solutions and processes.

2. Speed up the Check-in and Check-out Processes

Technology or software helps reduce wait times when customers come in to drop off or pick up their vehicles. When customers schedule their service ahead of time their information will be in the system for advisors to pull up quickly to help deliver a positive experience for customers.

When a customer arrives without an appointment, service advisors look up their information and complete the write up process getting the vehicle to the Technicians faster, helping deliver a positive experience.

3. Provide Proactive Updates to Customers

Another advantage of implementing technology is that it simplifies pulling up customer information to provide updates to customers. But it can be easy to forget providing the update to a customer every time. The right technology will automate the notification process. It generates status updates via reports and sends them to the customer or reminds the service manager to contact the customer.

Technicians also add photos of their vehicle inspection and work completed that are sent to the customer increasing their trust in the dealership. This helps them to visualize the problem, see the work in progress, and enjoy a positive customer experience. Utilizing technology to remind customers it's time to bring in their vehicles for maintenance also drives a positive experience while increasing online bookings and revenue.

4. Invest in Remote Video Surveillance for Security

A tailored remote video surveillance system in the service drive can reduce false claims, mitigate paying out unnecessary claims and deter theft by protecting the customer’s vehicle. A system correctly tailored to the dealership will record everything that goes on in the service department and the other areas of the business. Having a resource at your disposal to investigate video recordings of a vehicle when it enters the service drive provides the relevant footage for confirming when the damage to the customer’s vehicle occurred, either at the dealership or prior to their arrival. The Service Lane System is installed at the entrance of the service bays capturing the condition of the customer’s vehicle, including the sides and top, in detail.

When customers claim their vehicle were damaged by the service department, you contact us, and video analysts will review the footage to confirm if the dealership is responsible. The footage is provided to you and shows if the vehicle arrived with damage or left without damage. You may have clear evidence to share with the customer showing your service department took good care of their vehicles, helping deliver a positive experience.

You'll save money by not having to pay for false claims without hurting your retention. You'll save time because service advisors won't have to inspect a vehicle and document in detail freeing them up to focus on the customer. The Service Lane System will take care of that for you.

The Service Lane System will enhance the customer’s experience by sharing the footage with customers providing transparency and earning trust. You'll be able to turn an upset customer with a damage claim into a happy customer that is now revenue opportunity by repairing the damage.

Enhance Dealership Security and Productivity

Adding a video surveillance with remote monitoring, also enhances dealership security and productivity. One of our dealership customers shared that installing Stealth’s video surveillance solution, Service Lane System, stopped them from continuing to spend more than $20,000 a month on customer damage claims. They enjoyed an instant return on their investment with the Service Lane System

Whenever a customer makes a claim, contact Stealth to investigate for you. Our Analysts find and share the video footage of the vehicle arriving to the service lane allowing you to know whether the damage occurred in the service department or elsewhere. You'll be able to easily share the detailed video footage of the vehicle with your customer.

Unlike traditional dealership security solutions, video surveillance implemented across the dealership is proactive and does more than deter false claims and crimes. Video cameras increase employee productivity. Stealth works directly with dealership management by providing video footage showing how customers and salespeople move around the lot allowing management to identify areas for improvement. As a result, the dealership enhances its customer service and operations.

Some dealerships that use video in their training take advantage of our Video surveillance solutions by incorporating analytics that track customer movements and which cars they are interested in buying. You'll improve inventory management and marketing campaigns with this information.

Dealerships are also at risk for identity theft due to collecting PII (Personally Identifiable Information) of the customer for financial transactions. They're also at risk for employee theft and embezzlement. Video surveillance can aid with these challenges by monitoring and recording activity at the dealership.

To ensure you maximize your security and productivity investment, you want to work with a company who specializes in designing security systems for dealerships. To learn more about dealership security, pick up this guide to four auto dealership theft trends. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Guards & Savings, Security Tips, Video Monitoring