After rivals close, dealer adds 18 bays
Monthly service revenue rises 71% at Ohio store
When four nearby Ford Motor Co. dealerships closed, Beau Townsend Ford-Lincoln's parts and service chief Joey Beckett, right, and owner Larry Taylor saw an opportunity and added service bays and technicians.
Published in Automotive News, June 4, 2012
Dealer Larry Taylor sees service as his Field of Dreams.
"Build it and they will come," says Taylor, 64, owner of Beau Townsend Ford-Lincoln in Vandalia, Ohio, near Dayton.
Taylor indeed did build it. He saw opportunity for more service business after four nearby Ford Motor Co. dealerships closed.
Last year he added 18 service bays. He has added eight service technicians since 2010, six of whom specialize in diesel repairs. And for the first time in 36 years of ownership, he is spending hefty amounts -- up to $15,000 a month -- on TV spots to promote his service business.
The result: Taylor has taken his monthly service revenue from $700,000 last year to about $1.2 million this year. In 2010 the dealership serviced an average of 1,058 vehicles per month; in 2011, that rose to 1,711.
"It's working. As long as I'm getting people in here," says Taylor, whose dealership sells about 3,000 new and used vehicles annually. "It's mainly capacity. We've been asking for the business and promoting it."
Since 2008, Ford in its dealership consolidation effort has closed three Ford dealerships and one Lincoln store in the Dayton market. Ford Motor Co. granted a Lincoln franchise to Taylor in May 2010.
"Common sense will tell you if they closed four stores, there's going to be some people looking at where they can get their warranty work and service done," Taylor says.
It also meant there were laid-off service technicians available in his market, Taylor says.
In late 2009 Taylor began Saturday service hours from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. "But there was more work than we could handle," Taylor says. "When you're that backed up you can't properly take care of a customer."
So starting last year Taylor added 18 service bays. Twelve of them were specifically made with high doors and strong lifts to handle diesel commercial vehicles, vans, campers and pickups.
He hired four diesel-certified technicians and now has six. Taylor also added two regular service technicians.
"Diesels are commercial vehicles for the most part," Taylor says. "And Ford diesels have a 100,000-mile warranty, so most of them are still under warranty."
Diesel work accounts for about 20 percent of Taylor's monthly service work. His diesel service business has tripled since 2010, he says.
In October 2010 Taylor started his advertising blitz. He has been shooting and broadcasting two to three new TV spots a month to promote the service department. The spots are shown mostly on cable, eight times daily.
The spots feature some of his longtime service technicians such as Malcolm Rowe, who has worked at the dealership 36 years. Taylor is featured, too.
"I talk about our expansion," Taylor says. "It shows me walking through our newly expanded service department. I talk about our expanded hours and ability to accommodate diesels. I talk about the guys and I say, 'Listen to how long some of these guys have been here.'"
Taylor also promotes that his dealership has won Ford Motor Co.'s President's Award for 17 consecutive years. Ford gives the award to dealers who achieve top-notch customer service.
The spots are meant to showcase his staff's experience and low turnover.
"It's working," Taylor says. Many customers mention the spots when they come in for service.
Taylor says he spends about $10,000 to $15,000 a month to broadcast the spots.
While service business is bustling, Taylor says he is not yet over capacity. But if he does find himself again unable to keep up, he has a plan.
"I'll probably build an off-site quick lane to get the maintenance out of here," says Taylor. "But I'm not there yet. I have a little more capacity."
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