The 250 Nissan dealerships that plan to start selling Nissan NV commercial vans in late February are preparing for the extra needs of fleet operators, contractors and small businesses expected to use the vans and have them serviced.
The new product requires dealers to make changes. Among them:
-- Extend service hours, including Saturdays. Explains Joe Castelli, Nissan North America's vice president for light commercial vehicles and fleet: Commercial vans support the business livelihood of their owners. "They don't always have the luxury of waiting until Monday to get a repair made. If their vehicle is down, their income has stopped. So we need to make sure that we're available to them."
-- Create a service bay just for the vans. It's the same issue, Castelli says -- minimizing delays for commercial owners. Commercial customers will get the "first available service bay, first available technician" when they come in, Castelli says.
"That's new to us," he says. "When the service advisers or a manager or the technician sees one of these vans come in, we want them to give it a priority. Time is money for these customers, and they need to move to the head of the list.
"When an Altima owner comes in with a service need, we can always provide him with a loaner car and send him back on his way. It doesn't work that way in the commercial segment."
-- Install a heavy-duty vehicle lift. Nissan requires dealers to put in at least a 12,000-pound lift so that packed vehicles can be serviced without being unloaded. But with more commercial vehicles coming, Nissan has urged dealers to consider springing for a 30,000-pound lift. The bigger lift also opens the door to soliciting non-Nissan work, servicing brands that already have larger vehicles on the road.
Other than the lift, no special shop tools are required for the new commercial service work.
-- Create a dedicated parts storage area. The NV uses existing Nissan V-6 and V-8 truck engines, but it has unique parts, including different wire harnesses and brakes. The chassis has almost no parts in common with the Titan pickup.
-- Alter shop entrances where necessary. The NV will stand 106 inches tall before anything is added to the roof, and some older facilities needed taller doorways. In some cases, dealers opted to build separate service areas.
"When we first met with interested dealers two and a half years ago, we told them that if they were planning to build a new store or renovate, talk to us first so that we could work all this into their building plans," Castelli says. "In a few cases, we were able to catch a lot of guys at the design stage to incorporate these new issues."