For dealers, operating a large fleet of loaner vehicles efficiently can be a costly and perplexing exercise in aggravation.
How many vehicles should be in the loaner fleet? How will you charge customers for the fuel they use? How about tolls or parking tickets? How many people are needed to run the loaner program? What about outsourcing? And, most importantly, what happens to a dealership's customer satisfaction scores based on the answers to those questions?
Chris Coxall knows these issues well. As vice president of fixed operations for the six-store McDonald Automotive Group in metropolitan Denver, Coxall did not have happy memories of operating his fleet of 130 loaner cars — at least until fairly recently.
Over the last six months, Coxall has been able to reduce his fleet of loaner cars to 100 from 130, reassign five employees who had been running his internal loaner department and see a $5,000-per-month positive swing from a loss on fuel to a gain — all without customer satisfaction scores taking a hit.
The changes were due to a new software package called Dealerware developed by Audi-owned Silvercar, with significant help from several of the brand's dealers, that allows dealerships to better lend, track and manage loaner fleets.
"It pretty quickly highlighted the mismanagement in our loaner organization," Coxall said. For example, within a few weeks of implementing the software at McDonald's large Audi Denver store, "We realized that we were easily 30 cars higher in our loaner fleet count than was necessary to service our base. The reporting really helped us figure it out."
Audi Denver sells about 150 new and 200 used vehicles per month.