Last month, we launched a video news show with dealers and industry observers to learn about this market from where they sit. Here’s a recap of those conversations.
Jared Ricart, President, Ricart Automotive Group
Resolving the technician shortage goes well beyond a dealership and the ability to fix a car. Dealers who develop technicians benefit themselves and their community of car buyers and businesses that rely on transportation. We work with our local community college’s vehicle technology school to develop programs and employ auto tech students as they learn.
At Ricart Automotive, an employee is solely responsible for recruiting, developing and retaining technicians. With our training partners, including the Ford Asset Program, we’re developing technicians having completely new skill sets: a Ford F-150 has 150 million lines of computer code in its five computers communicating on three networks. Electric vehicles layer on considerably more complexity that these students must be trained to service and maintain.
Steve Greenfield, CEO, Automotive Ventures
With increasing electric vehicle (EV) adoption, dealers are wrestling with many questions, such as: How can I help my customer ensure they have the correct charger installed in their homes? Can I participate economically in installing this charging infrastructure to make sure they’re set up correctly? How many chargers will I need at my dealership, and how do I figure out which ones are best? How can I ensure that the chargers I buy will be compatible with all brands of EVs? Will I charge for the electricity, or should I add this as a perk to my customers?
With EVs, dealers will have an opportunity with more frequent tire changes. EV tire life is shorter by 30% to 50% due to the vehicles being heavier and generating more torque to their wheels. Enterprising dealers will consider building retention into EV owners, because many will need tires twice as often.
From a franchise dealer’s perspective, it should be easy to convince the consumer that service work on these complex machines will require sophisticated testing equipment and factory-trained technicians to do the job correctly. Dealers who can communicate the complexity of today’s cars to consumers will win back a higher percentage of that service work to offset business lost because of longer EV service intervals.
David Simches, group used car director, Crown Automotive Group
When you stick with the basics — good appraisal and service drive processes — you can get all the vehicles you need. These processes have kept used car inventories up at our 22 locations through the pandemic. While shortages and higher car prices are sexy to talk about, the next big struggle for the industry is production. By production, I mean getting cars through the shop.
To ensure this production focus with our stores, I meet weekly with each store’s reconditioning, service and parts managers, and internal service writers in 10-minute Zoom huddles. We go through everything related to production goals through reconditioning. This focus makes recon a priority. Some dealers fudge their recon production numbers by shortcutting their reconditioning to rush them to the front line to sell faster. When demand is high, customers don’t care that the car they buy isn’t picture-perfect. This too often results in those cars coming back one, two or three times to have issues resolved for their buyers that should have been handled by proper reconditioning in the first place. Stores whose production rate includes thorough reconditioning and three-to-five-day time to line and speed to sale deliver real advantages in their markets.
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