Summer is almost over. And it would seem the years of ever-increasing new car sales are also coming to an end, which means service departments will soon be more vital than ever — a fact that underlines the need for an effective operational plan.

Here are three headlines that show just how much things are changing:

How’s Your Technician Retention Plan?

A report published by Automotive News has showcased the current acute shortage of technicians. Simply put, it’s already a problem — and it’s getting worse as older employees retire. The numbers tell the story: According to automotive research firm Carlisle & Co., retirements in the coming years will create a shortage of up to 25,000 positions. 

Why it matters: According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), there’s an average of 19 techs per dealership, so this is a critical issue. Dealers can change the culture of the service drive to reflect a customer-focused, technology-driven approach to communication and workflow operations. That will appeal to tech-savvy Millennials.  Management will also appreciate the efficiency gains and younger recruits will feel at home in an environment that uses mobile devices.

New Car Sales are Down – Is it Time to Worry?

New vehicle sales lost ground compared to the first half of the year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean customers aren’t interested in purchasing vehicles. Demand is softening and consumer preferences are shifting toward larger vehicles. Case in point: According to Reuters, July passenger car sales dropped, but SUVs and trucks generally increased.

There are also signs the used car market is heating up. In July, the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index reported that used sales reached a 39.2 million SAAR. That’s the best figure since 2012.  

Why it matters: Any decline in new car demand is noteworthy. As competition increases, the entire dealership operation needs to operate at higher levels, especially fixed ops. Given this sort of volatile market, dealership managers should focus their time and resources on profit centers such as the service drive.  

New Technology is Good, but Iteration and Refinement are Better.

All the recent talk about autonomous vehicles has made it seem that no one will ever have to drive again.

Or not.

Broad adoption of self-driving cars is still years away. Autonomous leaders like Waymo are expanding their testing, taking things slow, learning and racking up miles. Why? Consider this recent report published in Automotive News: almost 50% of consumers surveyed said they would never buy a fully autonomous vehicle, and 85% said drivers should always have the option to take the wheel.

Why it matters: With their lives potentially hanging in the balance, consumers are thinking twice about handing the steering wheel to a “robot.” And that’s not a surprise. Disruptive innovations require ongoing development, testing, and refinement to provide reliable products that deliver lasting benefits. Waymo and its peers are dedicated to developing a technology-driven solution that meets a clear need.

In much the same way, dealership leaders should scrutinize service technology in terms of what how it meets evolving customer expectations…and how it fits into the overall technology footprint of the dealership. How does the service experience you deliver align with customer expectations? Does it provide a transparent and personal approach to customer service needs? Most importantly, if your technology is meeting today’s needs, is it also being constantly improved to meet tomorrow’s needs? Technology that’s not keeping you one step ahead will just be a part of tomorrow’s problems.

How Can Dealer-FX Help?

At Dealer-FX, our mission is to help automotive brands and dealerships transform the customer experience by providing leading-edge technology solutions that create an exceptional and efficient service experience. How can we help you?

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