Showcase: Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge
STATS: Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge Location: Baton Rouge, La. Service Director: Tom Acquaviva Bays: 24 Staff Size: 39 Average monthly car count: 1,400 Gross Annual Revenue: $3.3 million Total Sales: $5 million (average)
1. Maximizing Throughput
The average touch time at Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge’s (MBOBR) service department is 2.5 hours. With 20 technicians and 24 working bays, fixed operations director Tom Acquaviva really focuses on maximizing the space and time spent on vehicles.
From the 24 working bays, Acquaviva designated 3–4 as “dead bays” where technicians carry out driveability checks. Additionally, Acquaviva has a lateral support team system in place that allows his team to work more efficiently. Since he has 20 technicians, he has made five teams, which each have one service advisor and four technicians. Four of those teams work on general repair work, while the remaining team focuses only on quick-service work.
Although Acquaviva has been with MBOBR for two years, he took his previous experience to develop this team model so that customers are able to build a better connection with technicians and service advisors alike. He notes that once a customer is assigned to one of those lateral support teams, the customer’s vehicle will only be referred to and worked on by that team.
2. Upgrading Technology
To promote better relationships with customers, about two years ago, MBOBR added five tablets to the service department.
As customers roll into the covered service drive area, they are greeted with a service advisor who has a tablet in hand. After the customer and the service advisor do a walk-around of the vehicle, the service advisor will help the customer check in on the iPad. The iPads are integrated with the dealership’s CDK dealer management system. The tablets run AutoLoop, a reception and scheduling tool, and they integrate with Xtime to include multi-point inspection (MPI) data and to load repair orders.
This upgrade in tech allows service advisors to electronically send an MPI report to customers. From there, the customer decides what work they want to do.
3. Managing Workflow
To better track and manage work coming in and completed, the MPI report follows a color-coding schema that helps service advisors and customers alike see what work needs immediate attention and what might need to be addressed in the future. Green signifies that the vehicle part or component has been checked and it’s OK at the time the car is brought in for service. Yellow would mean that the part will need future attention and red denotes that the part of vehicle component is in need of repair or replacement immediately.
4. Building a Culture
According to Acquaviva, culture is biggest asset for MBOBR. The service department’s culture is bred with employee retention in mind.
He notes that they spend about $50,000 per year for culture prizes. They also have an employee of the month recognition and a coin system that staff can cash in at the end of the year for prizes like boats, cruises, watches and etc. Each coin that a team member gets is worth $500.