Maintaining a healthy service department will be more important than ever as the industry nears a possible new-vehicle sales plateau.
AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson warned of such a plateau at the Automotive News World Congress in January, stating that the industry began to transition from a growth mode to a plateau phase in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Some dealership groups already are paying more attention to their service and parts departments -- which traditionally help stores survive economic downturns -- even if they don't necessarily agree that sales will soon turn south.
Puklich Chevrolet in Bismarck, N.D., has already begun feeling that plateau in growth. The downturn in the oil boom has hit the dealership's local market. The result for Puklich has been a sharp upswing in service demand as customers choose to repair before they replace.
The solution to a fumbling and overbooked service department at Puklich was a simple shift in workflow: All communications for the department are now handled by the business development center.