"Our efficiencies were terrible," Duggan adds. "We'd bring in a customer for an oil change. You'd upsell them brakes or something else, and their car sits there for an hour and a half while the next customer doesn't get in. We said: "We have to fix this.'"
An initial proposal to redesign the dealership didn't do much to increase efficiency, Nurse and Duggan concluded, because it didn't change basic equipment and processes. An oil change would still be done the old-fashioned way: one employee raising the car on a lift.
Nurse and Duggan developed a new vision for the service department, based on the things Nurse valued as a consumer. That vision began to crystallize when Manock, a friend of Nurse's father, visited the dealership in 2009.
Manock is CEO of Autoplan Plus Inc., a company in Burlington, Ontario, that designs facilities for new dealerships and advises dealers on improving throughput in existing stores. Nurse and Duggan told Manock they wanted to give their customers value, convenience and information.
Manock used that guidance to design a service department that would efficiently do the work that independent competitors were taking away from dealerships: quick oil service, cleaning and detailing, alignment checks, tire services and safety inspections. He showed them equipment that could turn that vision into reality.
"They weren't thinking: "We are a car dealership. This is what we have been doing and we are going to do it again, only this time the building is going to be new,'" Manock recalls. "That is sort of what happens with most dealers.
"Mary and Dave were saying: "We're not stuck in this mold. Let's see what we can do.'"
Manock, Nurse, and Duggan knew of no dealership that had successfully developed a single lane that could offer all these services and -- more important -- a process to satisfy customers by making the work flow smoothly at high volumes.
"At the average car dealership, people buy a car and then they start to drift away, even during the warranty period," Manock says. "They decide they want to buy some performance items, or the car wears out tires quickly. And so they go elsewhere."
The oil change lane at Nurse Chevrolet Cadillac offers an experience designed to keep customers coming back. At the first station, inside a big glass bay door, the vehicle's interior is vacuumed and the floor mats are cleaned. Service employees measure battery voltage and check for open recalls.
At the second station, the car rolls over a Quick Check inspection lane, a system manufactured by Hunter Engineering Co. that reads tire tread, measures brake stopping efficiency and checks wheel alignment.
At the next station, the car drives over an EnviroLube oil pit, made by a California company called Integrated Lube Services. The fiberglass in-ground pit can cut oil change times nearly in half, to about 15 minutes for most vehicles.
As employees change the oil, check and top off fluids, and inspect air filters, they also perform a safety inspection that includes exterior lightbulbs and wipers. They run the vehicle through a fast-wash machine before returning it to the customer.
A Quick Check printout of safety inspection results is left on the dashboard for the customer, and there are additional notifications by the dealership's cashier and call center.