A consistent process yields efficiency, a prerequisite for speed, says Rick Wegley, an instructor at NCM Institute, part of the dealership consultancy NCM Associates in Kansas City, Mo.
For an express lane, that includes such things as having oil and air filters close at hand instead of in the parts department, and maintaining express check-in and payment processes, Wegley says.
Prime Motor Group in Westwood, Mass., has express service lanes at 24 of its 27 dealerships, says Mike Brown, fixed operations director. They stock needed parts near the express service bays.
"The parts managers freak out," Brown says, but "it is all about speed."
Prime also assigns service advisers to its express lanes, Brown says. "You need a dedicated quick lane adviser. Otherwise it will fail," he says.
For service advisers, Brown says he favors people with great personalities and lots of energy. Seventy percent of his quick service advisers are women, he says.
Consistency also is essential because staffing turnover is "constant" in his express lanes, Brown says.
"You can't keep training and training and training," he says. "We had a lot of quality issues before we had a good process."
The quality of express service leadership also is critical, says Todd Farrell, president of Benchmark X Inc., a dealership operations consulting firm in Sioux Falls, S.D. He compares an express lane to a NASCAR pit.
Without a strong crew chief, Farrell says, the express lane "turns into chaos."
Finding the right people to work in his dealership's Quick Lane bays has been a challenge, says George Glover, service director at Ford of Orange, in California.
Quick Lane is Ford's express service brand. Ford of Orange has Quick Lane bays in the corner of its large service area.
Glover has had success promoting porters or greeters who "do well with people" to be Quick Lane service advisers. Hiring people who previously worked at independent quick lube shops has worked less well, he says.
"You are bringing in people who are looking to move to the next level, and they are coming in at the same level," he says.
Glover looks to auto tech training programs at local community colleges for express lane techs. To keep those techs invested in the job, Glover pitches express service as a training ground for a job in the regular service department.
"I absolutely make it clear this is a springboard into a dealership position," he says.
How to build a career on a job in the express lane is a conversation a dealership needs to have early on with its lube techs, says Benchmark X's Farrell. His firm recommends hiring techs who are in school or finishing a training program.
"Show them a career path and communicate with them on a regular basis as to how they are doing," Farrell says.
Properly run express lanes should feed new business into the service department. Experienced advisers will point out the need for recall repairs, for example.
That pipeline helped clear a hurdle Prime Motor Group faced when it added express service: pushback from service department advisers who thought the fast lanes were taking money out of their pockets.
"They were 100 percent against express," Brown recalls.
But he says the express lanes have boosted customer retention, which benefits the regular service department. "With the self-driving vehicles and electric vehicles [coming], we need to capture every bit of service out there," Brown says.
Customer satisfaction with a dealership's service department improves if it offers express service, says Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power and Associates.
Dealerships with express service score about 44 points higher on Power's Customer Service Index study, on a 1,000-point scale.
Griffith Motors has had its CSI scores rocket since its express service has improved, Sullivan says. He identifies another benefit: "We are selling 400-plus engine and cabin filters a month."