Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016 - (Page 17)

TACKLING TRIAGE FIXED OPS JOURNAL WHEN HAIL HITS ■ Photos show what will get fixed, what won't. | PAGES 18-20 | ■ Storm tips | PAGE 22 | ■ Lessons learned in a city where hail is rare LAURENCE ILIFF T he record hailstorms that have pelted Texas this year have been a big test for fixed operations departments. Dealerships from north to south have had to deal with thousands of damaged vehicles, hundreds of them declared total losses. San Antonio faced a special challenge as it rarely gets hail. When the costliest hailstorm in the history of Texas hit Alamo City on April 12, it caught many by surprise. More than 110,000 vehicles were hammered with ice chunks as big as grapefruits. Estimated insured losses to automobiles were put at $560 million by the Insurance Council of Texas. Many thousands of those vehicles were sitting on dealer lots as new and used inventory as well as customer cars being serviced. And many thousands more belonged to private owners looking to dealership body shops for a quality fix. Glass for broken windshields and car windows was back-ordered. Body shops were inundated; loaner cars were scarce. Service representatives went into triage mode to figure out which vehicles had to be fixed first. Some were discounted and sold as-is in "hail sales"; others were fixed by "storm chasers" who offered their services in paintless dent removal. But they had to be vetted by dealerships trying to keep their reputations intact for quality and guaranteed repair. As if that weren't enough, another hailstorm in late April did more damage. It was less severe than the first but further complicated a hectic situation. At Cavender Toyota, about 400 vehicles that were repaired after the first storm were "re-hailed" in the second. Here's how two dealership managers responded and what they learned. ■ ●●● Allie Cook Jason Thompson Service manager BMW of San Antonio General manager Ancira Nissan A llie Cook said her role in dealing with the hailstorms was to put first things first. Namely, "partnering with our customers." That meant breaking the bad news to those whose cars were damaged on the lot while awaiting service and assuring them it would all turn out OK. "I think what we did right was that our first priority was contacting the customers," she said. Next was walking the lot and categorizing the damage vehicle by vehicle. Scores ranged from 0 for no damage to 3 for the worst. Broken glass, water damage and exposed electrical components typically meant a car was beyond repair. About 30 percent of the inventory ended up being declared a total loss. Cook had worked in the Dallas-Fort Worth area earlier in her career. She was more familiar with how hail can ravage a dealership than many of her peers in San Antonio, where the storms are less common. "Honestly, I don't think there's much more that we could do differently," she said. "We didn't know this was coming." - Laurence Iliff A few numbers added up to a lot to sort through for Jason Thompson. It was his first "hail sale" as a general manager. And, by his count, 90 percent of the 1,200 vehicles on his lot were damaged. Sure, there was some upside. Deeply discounted vehicles, for one. And customers' insurance checks for damaged vehicles served as tools to dig some of them out of negative-equity situations. "We got the insurance adjusters in here right away," Thompson said when asked to list things he did right. That allowed vehicles to sell quickly, while customers were motivated by deep discounts on cosmetically damaged but otherwise fine vehicles. "We haven't tried to make any more money than we normally do on this sale," he said. Showroom traffic and sales boomed as a result. There were mistakes, too. Plenty of moldings - chrome strips, bumper strips, door-protector strips - on damaged vehicles needed to be replaced. Failing to jump on an ordering spree sooner left the dealership further back in the queue for backordered parts than it would have been. Thompson's preparedness for future storms, meanwhile, is limited by a relatively small parts warehouse. "I wouldn't necessarily stock more glass," he said. "We just have to run tight inventories all around." - Laurence Iliff MAY 2016 PAGE 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016

Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016
Editor’s Letter
Service Counter
Legal Lane
Profit Builder
‘Grease monkey’?
Photo story
Richard Truett
High light
Service satisfaction
90-second oil change
Financing fixes
Supreme Court
Tech trends
Top 50
5 Minutes With
Shop Talk
Fixed in Time

Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016