Alan Brown, general manager of Frisco Volkswagen north of Dallas, has a 62,000-square-foot dealership under construction on 14 acres.
About 60 percent of the $23 million construction price tag is going into fixed operations -- roughly double what would have been spent on fixed operations less than a decade ago, Brown says.
The massive investment is paying for 36 service bays -- including eight dedicated to express service -- loaner cars and a staff of more than 30.
Frisco Volkswagen is one of many dealerships investing heavily in fixed operations. They are adding service bays, longer hours, dedicated express lanes and technology to boost efficiency.
Dealers say the investments are justified by strong profits, a big pool of potential customers who defected to independent shops and national service chains, and opportunities to boost customer satisfaction.
Cars that are more high-tech than ever give dealerships with factory-trained technicians, special tools and certified parts an increasingly important edge over independent shops. But challenges remain, such as a shortage of qualified technicians and pricing pressure from national chains.
Dealership net income from fixed operations has exceeded profits from new- or used-vehicle departments for the past two years, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.