Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F20
FIXED OPS JOURNAL
Sanitization a chance to sell customers on safety
hen one of Lee Harkins' vehicles was serviced at a dealership in the Birmingham, Ala.,
area this past summer, none of
the employees was wearing a mask, and there
was no evidence that the vehicle was sanitized before or after it was worked on.
Those were the wrong signals and a missed
opportunity at a time when many consumers
are squeamish about letting anyone touch
their vehicle, says Harkins, CEO of M5 Management Services, a fixed operations consultancy in nearby Pelham.
Pandemic or not, "people want to feel reassured, and they want to know that somebody's put forth the extra effort to keep germs
off their car," Harkins says.
When the coronavirus pandemic slowed
traffic in the service lane, dealerships offered
concierge services such as pickup and delivery and mobile service vans to stay busy and
give options to customers who didn't want to
visit a business. Another big selling point was
the cleaning and disinfecting of every car after it was serviced.
Like other "white glove" treatments, the
question remains how long service departments will offer these amenities to customers.
At Honda of Downtown Chicago, vehicles
are sanitized at no cost when they come into
"People want to feel
reassured, and they want
to know that somebody's
put forth the extra effort to
keep germs off their car."
LEE HARKINS, CEO,
M5 Management Services
the service department and before they leave.
Service Manager Joel Adames says that was a
key part of a sales pitch the dealership made
to customers about their health and safety
during the pandemic.
Adames says the dealership will continue to
sanitize vehicles after the pandemic subsides
and plans to order two fogging machines that
disinfect interiors instead of having workers
do it by hand.
He says the customer-focused efforts -
from pickup and delivery to sanitizing - kept
his service department running full-bore and
generated "slightly under $1,000" in customer-pay work per repair order during April,
when Illinois was under a strict stay-at-home
order and many customers were petrified at
the thought of letting others get inside their
"The way we overcame that was to tell them,
'We know you're at home; we don't want you
to come out of your house because it's not
safe. We'll come to you and make it as convenient as possible, and every car is cleaned and
Adames says that at some point he expects
to charge for the sanitizing service.
Harkins, though, thinks dealers should consider offering it as a free, value-added service.
Sanitizing is a logical extension of traditional
practices such as putting paper floor mats and
seat and steering wheel covers in vehicles
brought in for service, he says.
"I want to sell the effort to protect you and
that your best interest is my focus," Harkins
says. "How I sell you on that is that I let you see
me doing that for you."
It pays to commit to vehicle pickup and delivery
ffering vehicle pickup and delivery
to customers may not be a good fit
for every fixed ops department.
But if a dealership's competitors
are offering the service, that dealer should as
well to remain competitive, says Lee Harkins,
CEO of M5 Management Services, a service
department consultancy and training company in Pelham, Ala. And if no others in a
dealership's market are offering pickup and
delivery, that might be a reason to start to set
the store apart.
But Harkins cautions that once a dealership
offers pickup and delivery, it must be ready,
willing and able to continue.
"I just think it's a great tool for customer retention, but when you're successful with it,
you've got to be prepared to scale it," he says.
"I don't recommend doing it and then backing off. Once that customer has their car
picked up and delivered back to them, they
will love it."
Harkins also thinks customers are more apt
to spend on recommended maintenance
work when using pickup and delivery. He
cites a Hyundai and Genesis dealership in
Houston that offers the service. The service
department is earning, on average, $160 more
on repair orders on vehicles that are picked up
than on those that aren't, Harkins says.
A third-party delivery service charges the
dealership $35 to pick up the vehicles, and the
dealer, in turn, charges customers $25 for the
"He's $10 under on that, but he's getting
$160 more per transaction," Harkins says. "It's
a pretty good deal."
Harkins says he probably wouldn't charge
customers for pickup and delivery, "but I
don't know that I'm overly concerned about
the guys who do charge. I don't think it's a
showstopper," he says.
He remembers a Pennsylvania dealership
that charged $5 for a shuttle van ride, and no
one complained. The upside of charging is a
dealer adds value to the service and covers
some of the costs.
And if customers really think about the convenience of pickup and delivery, they would
be willing to pay for it, he says.
"Would I spend $25 so I didn't have to make
a trip down [to the dealer], didn't have to make
a trip back, make another trip to pick it up and
make another trip to come home?" Harkins
asks. "That's four trips, and all I have to do is
give him my key and get a loaner for $25?
"That's not a bad deal, and I would probably
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - Intro
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F1
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F2
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F4
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F5
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F6
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F7
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F8
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F9
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F10
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F11
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F12
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F13
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F14
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F15
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F16
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F17
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F18
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F19
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F20
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F21
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F22
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F23
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F24
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F25
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F26
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F27
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2020 - F28