The cover story for this issue of Fixed Ops Journal is a great example of the old saying about making lemonade out of lemons.
It has been well documented how the coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected business in dealership body shops and service and parts departments. Some customers continue to delay getting their vehicles serviced for a variety of reasons.
There is a reluctance to interact with others and to have dealership employees inside their vehicles.
For the most part, dealership fixed operations have done a good job keeping techs busy by offering customers pickup and delivery service and options for touchless interactions with advisers and cashiers, as well as sanitizing vehicles after the work has been done.
And as our story beginning on Page 10 shows, some dealership service departments used the slowdown in business as an opportunity to reexamine processes, protocols and procedures. As a result, many made improvements that will make them more profitable and put them in a better position to serve customers in the future.
Unfortunately, operating in crisis mode often offers little time for reflection. So I asked a few fixed ops folks to share one revelation about their operations, their team or themselves brought to light by these difficult times.
Scott Gregg, service director at Tucson Subaru in Arizona, told me his faith in his staff has been renewed. He says he knew his people were good, but the challenges the pandemic brought to the service drive made him appreciate them even more.
"The way everyone has pitched in and pulled together to overcome all the obstacles and the way things have changed day to day has really just blown me away," Gregg says. "A few people were nervous, of course, but no whining, no complaining. Just roll up our sleeves and get it done is what I got from each and every one of them.
"I've always counted my blessings, but I count them double now for sure."
Francisco Melendez, service manager of Universal Hyundai-Genesis in Orlando, also gave credit to those working alongside him.
"The one thing I have learned from myself and the team is the creativity that has come to light from everyone to make sure that the customers feel at ease while knowing that we are taking all precautions during our current pandemic," he says. "Our main goal is for the customers to know that we have adapted to the 'new normal' and that we have all kinds of new, different options to service their vehicle without feeling that they are risking their health or their loved ones."
But leave it to Bob Cawley, fixed operations director at Horne Auto Group near Phoenix, to sum it up perfectly. He's been in the car business since the late 1980s and is an ordained minister.
"It's all about people and process," he says. "If you get those two right, they will carry you through the hard times."