Volvo Cars of North America is training dealers to make more money with a rigorous approach to an old routine.
Service advisers, armed with a thorough checklist, walk around vehicles with customers to assess problems and suggest additional repairs and purchases. It takes an average of 18 minutes to follow Volvo's procedures.
"They need to understand what the customer needs and wants and point out things the customer may not be aware of -- like worn tires and brakes," says Chris Dauerer, vice president of customer service for Volvo Cars of North America. "It is a defined process for the dealer, and there is continual follow-up."
Moreover, before the vehicle arrives, the service adviser orders parts that he knows will be needed for scheduled maintenance.
Dealerships that participate in the Interactive Walk Around program see a revenue increase of about $30 in service and $20 in parts on jobs with about $100 worth of labor, Dauerer says. Most jobs at a Volvo dealership take an hour, he says.
"The data tells us that there is an increase of $32.50 in gross profit per repair order," he says.
Volvo launched the program globally in 2009 and has tailored it to the U.S. market, Dauerer says. Volvo wanted to help its 335 U.S. dealerships boost service revenues because of the drop in unit sales over the past several years and the decline in warranty work because of improved quality, he says.
The service department uses a paper form with a checklist. Eventually the program may shift to computer tablets, but that would add expenses for equipment and training that many dealerships can't afford, Dauerer says.
Dealerships pay $8,000 for the program, which includes a week of training at the store. A Volvo trainer spends the first day in the service write-up area and observes how the service adviser interacts with customers, Dauerer says. The instructor spends the next several days training service personnel.
The key message: "When that car comes in, they need to go out there and meet that customer and interact and communicate with them right away -- regardless of what the weather is," Dauerer says.