As dealers everywhere press their service departments to improve customer-satisfaction results, some Florida stores are outsourcing their more troublesome tasks, such as detailing, porter work and lot maintenance.
"We wash 100 percent of the cars that go through our service department, and we rely on an outside company to do it," says Larry Zinn, general manager of Warren Henry Infiniti in Miami.
The dealership uses local services supplier A.C. Installations to keep eight to 10 porters on-site for various functions, such as ferrying service customers to work. "They're accountable for doing the job right, and that frees up our service people to focus on more important things," Zinn said.
J.M. Lexus of Margate, Fla., has about 80 third-party service employees on-site, provided by Ocean Detailing USA Inc. of Miami. Ocean provides lower-wage work forces for about 50 dealerships in the area and has about 500 employees doing an expanding range of fixed-op functions.
Ocean Detailing has been asked to take over service parts delivery operations for one of its customers, says owner Russell Grande. That will open a new area of business for his company.
"Our role is to take jobs off of the service manager's hands that are cutting into his productivity or complicating his life," Grande says. "The $10-an-hour-or-less guys at the dealership are jobs they don't need to be worrying about. The service manager needs to be able to focus on making the most money possible and meeting customer-satisfaction goals."
Grande's company tracks every vehicle it touches, whether as a valet or a detailer, explaining what was done and by whom. The reports go to the stores' fixed-operations managers. Any dissatisfaction immediately can be tracked to the specific Ocean employee. And every dealership has an on-site Ocean manager.
If a porter doesn't show up for work, Ocean dispatches a replacement. The dealer is spared the time-consuming task of recruiting and training a new employee.
The price tag for third-party services is roughly comparable to doing the work in-house. For example, Ocean charges dealers $55 to detail new cars.
"The money's usually not the issue," Grande says. Customer satisfaction "is what's driving all this. The dealerships are just realizing that these are jobs they don't need to be bogged down with."