Limiting the number of services is key to that speed, he adds. The dealerships' express service includes an oil change, tire rotation, multipoint inspection and checks of a vehicle's battery, lightbulbs, wiper blades and air and cabin filters.
To save time, the quick service omits work that is done more efficiently outside the express bay, such as tire repair, Cahalan says. "Every second we lose in the bay adds up in a day to three, four, five, 10 vehicles we lost capacity to do," he says.
Cahalan's dealerships worked with Service Operations Specialists, a consultancy in Little Rock, Ark., to adopt its quick service process and train express technicians. Blake Price, president of the consulting firm, says a dealership must make express service a "business within a business."
"One of the problems of express service is that people view it as an attachment" to the service department, he says. "It is the key to the dealership going forward."
Two technicians trained in a coordinated process that Price calls "the dance" are optimal for successful express service, he says. At least one service adviser also should be assigned to the process, he adds.
Visual aids can make customers as much as four times more likely to approve additional services in the express lane, Price adds. Under the process developed by his company, express techs use a multipoint inspection form and test printouts to show the health of various parts of the vehicle, such as the battery and air filter.
The process also gives express service advisers specific scripts to use with customers. Price declined to discuss the wording of the scripts.
Every express service visit to a dealership should include a multipoint inspection, says Foutz of Cox Automotive. A dealership gains "added credibility" when it uses specialized diagnostic systems to check a vehicle's overall health that aftermarket competitors aren't likely to have, he adds.
That inspection can create work for the service department, Foutz adds. For example, he says, an express tech might tell a customer how much life remains in the vehicle's brakes.
Brandon Honda has what Van Hart calls upsale technicians in the express area who follow up on findings of multipoint inspections. If a job can be done quickly, such as replacing brake pads, the customer can have an upsale tech do it immediately. Bigger jobs go to the dealership's main shop.
Acura of Thousand Oaks uses a customized inspection form. Each component that is checked is graded green, yellow or red to indicate the urgency of any problem. "We give [customers] the knowledge to understand what their car is going to need," Suarez says.
Price says the "No. 1 thing" a dealership must have to provide successful express service — and take business from aftermarket rivals — is buy-in from all employees, including service technicians. Suarez agrees.
The initial "knee-jerk reaction" from techs at his dealership was that express service would take business from them, Suarez says. But when they see how the process generates work for the main shop, he says, "they take a step back and say, 'I am fine with it.' "
That conversion happens "pretty quickly," adds Kriger, the service manager. "It's a win-win."