Production Workflow Management General Fixed Operations Department

A Difference in Perspective

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With the start of every year, we meet with the manufacturers and discuss their vision and goals for the new year. When it comes to dealing with the manufacturers’ representatives, it is always about vehicle sales. First, they give me their current research on how to build and improve customer loyalty with our dealership and brand. Then, they tell what areas or products they would like us to concentrate on for the year. It has always been the responsibility of the fixed operation departments to build and retain relationships, so when they are ready, we are the first call for a new vehicle.

2019 was different. It seems the manufacturers that we deal with are starting to understand some of the issues I deal with on a daily basis. Since I started attending these meetings, they have always told fixed operations that we need to increase our focus on customer pay work because they continued to forecast a decline in warranty and recall work. This has never happened for our dealerships. Last year, I showed a 22 percent increase in warranty at the Ford store and, of course, a 100 percent increase at our new Chevrolet store due to us not have any historic data to compare it to.

However, this year, they informed me that, for 2019, they are forecasting an increase in warranty and recall repairs and they said they understood our capacity restraints of getting the work completed. I was kind of taken aback by this change in their focus. I have always believed that with the push for autonomous vehicles and the rapidly changing technology we are currently seeing in the new vehicles we will always deal with recalls and warranty repairs. But it is good to see that the manufactures that I deal with have started to understand that all of the new technology reacts differently in different climates and driving conditions.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that my manufacturer representatives read my column. Their advice to me for dealing with our capacity restraints was just to hire four or more technicians and maybe start a second shift to help with the upcoming increase in warranty repairs. It shocked me that I had to explain to them that we had expanded our facility to try to meet the increasing demand on our dealership but have been unable to increase our staff—even though we have tried for more than three years.

I guess that goes to show you that looking down on the battlefield, the answer is easy. But, if you have been living in the trenches, you are aware. The answer is more people—you just have not been able to find them.


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