The extra benefits of a quick-service business

A recent visit to Maroone Ford of Margate in South Florida underscored another kind of benefit dealerships can get by setting up separate quick-service operations.

I was there to spend the day with Shane Dyer, AutoNation’s leading seller of extended service contracts from the service drive.

AutoNation and other dealership groups are training their service advisers to sell more of these warranty and maintenance products traditionally pitched in the finance and insurance office. The story of my day with Shane is featured in the F&I section of this week’s issue of Automotive News.

At Maroone Ford, the vast majority of extended service contracts are sold on the Quick Lane side of the service department. Shane manages the Quick Lane operation. The dealership’s service director Rob Romero says he has work to do to encourage more of these sales in the traditional shop -- but the Quick Lane advisers have a natural advantage.

Quick Lane customers tend to have newer cars and are there because they’re of the frame of mind to maintain a vehicle, Romero said. But the key difference may be that Quick Lane customers tend to come in for smaller-ticket items like oil changes or tire rotations. It’s not as difficult of a stretch for that Quick Lane visitor to buy an add-on product as it might be for a traditional service customer facing a $1,000-plus repair.

For dealerships, the sale of add-on products in the service drives is almost like “found money,” one AutoNation executive told me. With quick-service operations likely to find even more of that money, that’s an add-on many dealerships could use.