Rick Ricart, president of Ricart Automotive Group based in Columbus, Ohio, loves that his employees are driving his customers' vehicles past the fast-lube shops and independent garages and into one of the 144 bays at Ricart Mega Mall, a 67-acre facility in nearby Groveport.
In April, more than 200 Ricart service customers opted to have their cars picked up, serviced and returned — roughly triple the usual number. Before the pandemic, Ricart says, he averaged around 60 pickup and delivery jobs per month. Since the pandemic, fees have been waived for all brands.
Ricart sells Ford and six other brands and pays a monthly subscription to Redcap for software, but he uses his own staff to pick up and drop off cars. He has been offering pickup and delivery for nearly two years. Ricart says he did not survey his customers before rolling out the service. Instead, it was a sort of mini focus group of Ohio State University football coaches that convinced him to offer pickup and delivery as part of what he calls the dealership group's "express division."
"I kept reading about the 'Amazonification' of the retail car dealership. What does that look like and what does it mean?" Ricart says. "We wanted to make speed and convenience the two biggest hot buttons for our guests."
Ricart started with giving his customers the ability to buy, lease and pay for service online. Then came pickup and delivery.
"The Ohio State football coaching staff are some of the busiest people I know. They work 363 days a year. For them to drive past where they work and drive another 20 miles to a dealership to get just an oil change was an inconvenience," Ricart says. "We started offering it to them as a service that was $20 each way."
And once Ricart began offering pickup and delivery, the auto group rolled out an innovation of its own.
"Even if the customer doesn't want a loaner vehicle, I like someone driving to their house and leaving what should be the customer's next vehicle in their driveway," Ricart says. "Whatever we think is the next new vehicle they want to buy, we leave parked at their house."
There are approximately 40 cars in the loaner fleet used for pickup and delivery.
Ricart says pickup and delivery meshes perfectly with the company's mission statement: "Sustainable growth through retaining positive employees and guests."
Ricart says the software he uses for scheduling pickup and delivery appointments isn't always accurate. He says it may show no times available but if a customer calls and speaks with a service adviser, they often can schedule a time for pickup and delivery.