FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- AutoNation Inc. is spending big to win back its car and truck buyers who have defected to aftermarket service and parts competitors -- or to keep them from straying in the first place. It intends to hold onto these customers for life.
"We aim to deal with every need our customers have," Bill Berman, AutoNation's president, told Fixed Ops Journal during an interview at the company's headquarters here."Whether it's an oil change or selling parts, we don't want to lose any customer to an independent."
To press the point, AutoNation assembled its fixed operations leadership team to join Berman in affirming the retailer's focus on parts and service in its new $500 million campaign to burnish the brand among consumers.
The strategy launched by the nation's largest dealership group includes new service and collision centers as well as AutoNation-labeled parts and accessories. Company officials and auto retail analysts say the plan responds to industry realities and accommodates sizable growth opportunities.
Berman said AutoNation expects to leverage what executives call the company's reputation among new-vehicle buyers for efficiency and trustworthiness. Goals include expanding the retailer's presence in the aftermarket and retaining service customers once their vehicles' factory warranties expire.
Christopher Bavis, an instructor at the National Automobile Dealers Association Academy and a specialist in parts issues, noted that other large dealership groups -- notably Penske Automotive Group Inc. and Hendrick Automotive Group -- also have invested heavily in fixed operations in recent years.
"That's the name of the game," Bavis said. "Fixed ops is where the money is made these days. I don't see that changing anytime soon."