Ed Roberts added his second mobile service van on March 11. It has become an $80,000 tool for picking up recall work at Bozard Ford-Lincoln in St. Augustine, Fla.
When the first one arrived late last year, Roberts expected it to primarily serve the dealership's fleet customers. But things have tilted toward individual clients, with about half of the orders involving recall work.
Apparently, customers who have a hard time getting around to taking their vehicles to the dealership for recall fixes are more than willing to have the repairs come to them.
"It's probably the most-accepted program I've ever put together in fixed ops," says Roberts, 46, speaking of his mobile van effort.
That includes work at six dealerships in a two-decade career. The last eight have been at Bozard, where he's the parts and service director overseeing a 96-bay shop and the two mobile units.
Roberts says his team is systematic and aggressive about chasing recall work for his mobile fleet.
If a technician is scheduled to make a house call 10 miles away, Bozard will look for another dealership along the route and scout online for Fords and Lincolns in that store's used-car inventory that may need recall work. Before it heads out, the mobile van will be loaded with parts for the potential fixes. On his way to or back from the scheduled job, the mobile technician will visit the rival dealer and offer to do recall work on the Fords and Lincolns on-site.
He'll also share a list of rival brands' used vehicles in Bozard's fleet that need recall repairs. Because dealers are limited to doing recall work on their franchised brands, it's a win-win.
Among other standard practices for the fledgling mobile business:
- Roberts' six mobile technicians (four primary, two alternates) are expected to act as faces of the dealership. They wear black polos with the company logo and navy uniform pants.
- Vans are stocked with parts not just for the ordered work but for work that would be commonly expected to go along with it. The goal is to avoid the time-consuming expense of heading back to the dealership for extra parts. The dollar value of the typical mobile repair order is 30 percent higher than the average in-shop order, he says.
- Mobile service is limited to a 50-mile radius of the dealership for individual customers and 150 miles for fleets.
- He initially charged a "convenience fee" of $49.99 for the home visits. That has been waived during the coronavirus crisis and probably won't return. He expects to fold the costs into the price of the mobile work.
And he expects a lot of it, with more vans.
Says Roberts: "We'll probably be operating 10 in the next year and a half."