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March 27, 2017

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Frankenstein is still alive

Frankenstein is still alive and well and making lots of money!

The first Frankenstein horror movie was released on March 18, 1910. Most of us do not remember that date as we were not yet born. But the story has stayed with us and has caused many of us to look behind us when in a dark spot and fear the appearance of the monster. What was so scary about the poor guy was not necessarily that he was so big and so unattractive, but that his “parts” did not fit and did not “go together”. And, that when parts do not fit they cause a lot of problems when used together.

I doubt that few of us think of software technology as a “Frankenstein” but when you think of the analogy, it actually fits many of the products available to us in the automotive marketplace as “working tools”. This is greatly manifested in some of the projects that some manufacturers offer their dealers as they put together products of many companies and force the dealership to use them as one tool. No consideration is given in these instances to the fact that the products were not necessarily planned to work together, nor to how does one train the final user on two separate products with two separate cultures. Least of all is the consideration given to the cost inherent to the end user when these separate products are sold. As one has to pay the cost to each vendor separately, of course the OEM is not the one footing the bill as they are not the final user. A Frankenstein of software indeed! And we all know how Frankie faired in the end. He did not marry and live happily ever after. Of course there is CO-OP money, but has anyone actually measured the damage done to the department when doing and undoing one of these “Frankies”, and if that CO-OP money really does cover that cost?

Yesterday, I was presenting to a colleague, who has requested to remain unnamed, but is an insightful executive in the automotive retail market place. We were discussing other products available, and he indicated that some were “Frankenstein” to which I laughed totally missing his point, as I thought he meant they were monsters both in price and functionality. He then asked if I realized what he meant, that not only the tool is not workable but the reason is because the parts do not fit, as they were not designed for one body!

This analogy was so adept that the picture of “Parts that Do Not Fit”, has stayed with me and I decided to write this blog. . I am not sure where this will go, but at least might cause you to laugh and reconsider the Frankenstein you are about to install!

February 7, 2017

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How does techWALL improve service department productivity?

How does techWALL improve service department productivity?

techWALL has shown great promise in increasing lines per repair order both amongst high line and other types of vehicles.  Most customers choose repairs most “visible” to them.  Repairs such as recommended manufacturer repairs or items those are visibly wrong.  But there are usually many issues that can only be diagnosed by a technician with in-depth knowledge. These issues might not seem so pressing at the time and might lead to further more expensive repairs if done later or might just simply be dangerous such as brakes that are worn thin but are not manifesting themselves as problematic.  The high line results are truly impressive as they approach 30% increase in lines per RO.  In other vehicles, although, still impressive the percentage increase is reduced to about 11-13%.  This discrepancy might be due to the fact that highline customers have more expendable income to accept other needed repairs than others.  Remember 60% of customers struggle to pay a $500 repair bill.  But even for these people, if a timely repair ends in spending less in the future, it is certainly worth it and a great service.

Another aspect of improved productivity caused by techWALL is improving efficiency of the technician time.  techWALL not only streamlines communication with customer but also with other members of the service department team such as advisor and Parts employees.  As a rule technician spends three hours of an eight hour day either trying to communicate with advisor to attain authorization for a repair or travel to parts department to ascertain availability of a part.  All of this time spent is non productive and does not lead to one cent of revenue.  In fact this wasted time is very expensive, not only as technician is hourly paid but as he is one of the few employees of a dealership who directly contributes to revenue generation.  So, as you see this single tool not only makes lives of many, including the customer, easier but also generates a great deal of revenue all around a winning product.

July 6, 2016

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Think your technicians can only turn wrenches? Think again!

You think your technicians can only turn wrenches?  Think again, they can drive sales and profitability!

Average vehicles on the streets of this great country of ours have 150,000 miles on them and are 11 years old. There are close to 84,000 registered independent repair companies available in the market to serve these vehicles. Also fully 63% of the US population cannot address a $500 repair bill. What do all these statistics point to? For one, people are keeping their cars longer and those cars need to be repaired and secondly, as the cost of repair is hard for them to swallow, the customers will choose the repair shop that truly is transparent to them and serves them to the fullest extent. The concept of “my technician will treat me right” becomes even more relevant here as the customer does not see the technician as yet another salesman trying to sell him something but as an advocate trying to only diagnose a difficult problem at the least cost.

This becomes a tremendous opportunity for a franchised dealer as well to make the fixed operations more profitable. But with every opportunity there is a price to pay and with that I do not necessarily mean financial but rather a change of mind set. You see this level of change is not achieved by just handing people in the service department some tablets using the same old technology of the past. As mentioned above the consumer of today faces very different challenges than those of their predecessors and the dealership of today needs to be able to address those needs. In short, the auto dealer of today has to portray their service department not only as a place where you “service” cars, but a place where, you most importantly, “serve” the consumer. If your dealership truly makes these transitions, the rewards are outstanding and long term. Actually the financial burden of this project can be quite minimal as there is already new technology available that links the technician into the “chain” of people at the dealership that serve the customer. Consider techWALL of Gratis technologies, this tool has been in the market for a while and it simply uses the old inspection report the dealerships and customers are used to except it is now totally electronic. Once the vehicle is in front of the technician, he then initiates the “vehicle health report” which is then forwarded to parts for pricing and availability then to advisor for final scrutiny and then submitted to customer for final approval. Once the customer approves the report and “submits” to advisor, the technician is notified who initiates service., then, once the service is complete SPOL, the online payment system, communicates to the customer’s phone that the vehicle is ready and sends n invoice to that phone. The customer pays thir invoice, again on their phone and comes in to pick up thir car easily and quickly – no lines. The whole project addresses the need for transparency and time saving. All declined services and future needs are also recorded on client profiles for automatic followup.. Also this portrays the fact that in every service there are a “group” of people serving that customer. the technician, in its own right, becomes a tremendous selling factor against the independent repair shops. You see at the auto dealership of millennium it’s not just the technician that is “working” on the car, but parts counter is trying to find the best part and advisor who really knows this customer and his “condition” is trying to find the best fit for the service needed. By that we mean that if the service needed at the time might be more than the customer can swallow the advisor might be more aware of that fact than others and by communicating thru the same system the advisor, parts, the technicians and the customer might be able to choose the best solution readily.

In short, the tools that the dealership needs to incorporate must be those that address transparency, communication with the customer and most importantly be easy to install and easy to use for people of the service department. this is the time for change and the opportunities are too great to ignore for the service department of millennium.