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Bottleneck: Low Car Count

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Car Count in the COVID Era

The dream of being constantly overbooked may be just that—a dream. Overbooked and busy shops sometimes compel service advisors and technicians to cut corners driving the bottom line further into the red. 

Swift inspections and turn-‘em-and-burn-‘em repairs are not the recipe for maximizing revenue. Today, car sales are down and car maintenance is up, creating opportunities for owners wise enough to slow down and see the bigger picture. Quality inspections on less cars may offer more revenue than simply playing the numbers game. As each month passes during the COVID-19 pandemic, DVI-forward shops are seeing increased AROs even as car count diminishes. 

Furthermore, you can only sell so many hours in the shop regardless of the number of vehicles. Shops with too many vehicles in the queue often lose the forest for the trees (or the toolbox for the tools): focusing too much on the here-and-now prohibits any ability to take a breath, zoom out and really analyze the market and shop data to make next week’s numbers bigger, better, bolder. The ability to upsell is severely diminished when the service advisors look in the lot and see more vehicles that need inspections before 5:00.


Car Count Versus Customer Care 

Digital services such as communication and inspections really allow the shop to breathe in ways it never has before—instead of cold-calling customers for scheduled maintenance or follow-up, it can be automated through messaging services embedded into shop tablets and software. Instead of reminding customers what was discussed last time, you can show them via repair recommendations and time-stamped logs of every nut loosened and every ratchet wrenched. (Digital logs also enable swift analysis and action from advisors and technicians with a full history of the vehicle at their fingertips.) 

Finally, pictures, video and clear explanations sent to the customer via text educate them on their own terms, fostering a collaborative relationship with the shop instead of one based around the input/output of money for repairs, helping to build a wear history for each vehicle and a trust history with each client. 

So maybe focusing purely on car count isn’t the ideal way to discuss this KPI; maybe the KPI is outdated. Maybe the right services can look to something a little more relatable—a customer care metric.

Call it what you want, but one thing is certain: if savvy shops can increase revenue and AROs with lower car counts during these wild times, imagine what can be accomplished when the economy and our shops return to normal.

The Numbers Game 

Instead of focusing on car count, focus on more personal data: the customer count (and the loyalty that follows)

Don’t follow the cars—follow the data. Here are some recent numbers that should point you in the right direction when tackling car count.

Reducing your customer defection rate by 5 percent can increase your profitability 25-125 percent.*

On average, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase.**

The average repeat customer spends 67 percent more in their third year of their relationship with a business than in the first six months.**

It costs five times more to get a new customer than it does to keep one, and you only have a 20 percent chance of up-selling to that new customer.


**Bain & Company:


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