In service business, speed counts
Published in Automotive News, Sept. 3, 2012
Many dealers focus their service departments on big-ticket repairs and warranty work. Brothers Colin and Richard Wickstrom decided to focus on time -- specifically, their customers' time.
The dealer principals of Wickstrom Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Barrington, Ill., about 35 miles northwest of Chicago, have designed the service areas of their dealership to give the impression of speed.
From the service lane doors that open within three seconds to a lounge area with closed-circuit TVs where customers can watch their vehicles being serviced, the Wickstroms' aim is to let customers know they don't have to stay long.
"The two biggest challenges as dealers are that people think we're too expensive and they think we're inconvenient," Colin Wickstrom said. "We need to do everything we can to turn that perception around."
When a customer arrives at Wickstrom Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram for an oil change, a valet greets the customer, confirms the reason for the visit and moves the vehicle into the service area as the customer walks to a quiet, glass-enclosed service advisers' area.
Five of the dealership's 20 bays are dedicated to oil changes. The goal: Finish the work, wash the vehicle and deliver it to the customer in 25 minutes or less. Service advisers act as cashiers to complete transactions.
"We run our service department like it's an Express Lane that happens to do heavier warranty work," Colin Wickstrom said.
While customers are in for service, they wait in a 1,500-square-foot lounge and are offered free coffee and fountain drinks and access to computers and a bank of TVs.
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