Mobile servicing. Pickup and delivery. Electronic payments. Gloves. Masks. Steering wheel covers. Disinfecting supplies.
These are some of the new tools that have been pressed into service in the past month by fixed ops directors as auto dealerships adapt to life in the coronavirus era.
At many stores in the scores of states where governors have issued orders restricting or banning auto sales, fixed operations are shouldering the financial load. Service and parts and body repair have been deemed essential, and those departments have remained open with reduced hours and fewer staff.
Based on consumer surveys conducted in late March, Cox Automotive estimates that franchised new-car dealerships’ fixed ops departments will take a massive financial hit this year because of consumers delaying service and maintenance. Jonathan Smoke, Cox’s chief economist, said 29 percent of consumers surveyed plan to delay maintenance and service as they shelter in place.
Though business is far from normal, fixed ops directors and dealers have relied on creativity, caution and courage as they help fleet customers and others in need of repairs, such as first responders and health care workers, to keep vehicles on the road.