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Launching a Vehicle Pick-Up Service

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It’s almost 2020, where convenience is king. Consumers are now able to order everyday products straight to their door. From clothing to groceries—even your pet’s favorite toys can be delivered monthly to keep them constantly entertained—everything is available instantly. Today’s consumers expect this level of convenience, says Adam Carley, vice president of product and marketing for Clutch Technologies, a company providing vehicle subscription and mobility software for the automotive industry. 

    “They’re used to services like Uber and Amazon—they’re super easy to use,” Carley says. 

For a task as dreaded as servicing vehicles, auto repair shops have to find a way to keep up with convenience demand.

    The answer? A service that allows customers to have their vehicles picked up at a specific time and address and dropped off once the repair is done, without ever having to be inconvenienced. Basically, with a service like this, a customer can go to work as they normally would and hop into a fully serviced vehicle at the end of the day without missing a beat. 

    It may sound simple enough, but there are a number of factors auto repair shops should take into consideration before implementing the service into their own shops. Carley shares five key components that operators need to think about before launching a concierge service.

You need a good scheduling system, meaning when people are making appointments, you should have a nice place where you can plan. Simply, you can block out specific times when scheduling. One thing to consider when doing this: people schedule those appointments down to 15-minute slots. The customer might be flexible about picking it up between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., so take advantage of that.

If you have a view of where you expect to start working on a vehicle, you can reach out to customers and schedule that service and find a time to pick up their vehicle. The great thing about picking up a customer’s car for them is that you have a window of flexibility as far as time. If they go into the store, they’re going to be waiting. If you pick it up, that gives you flexibility.

If you establish a relationship with your customer where you can reach out and suggest times, that gives you a greater degree of control over scheduling, too. There’s a concept of choice—you make them choose a 15-minute slot when they’re actually indifferent about it. If you book a wider window, start the night before, reach out and let them know when it will happen and when you’re on you’re way, it starts to feel a little bit more like Uber.

You need to consider staffing when implementing this type of service. After an auto repair shop has become comfortable with the process, they might choose to increase the volume of concierge activity. A rule of thumb is when you are doing at least five bookings per day, you should start to consider adding dedicated staff. The ROI on those hours is strong and quite easy to verify. Any dedicated staff might still be part-time, with shifts booked to align with volume.

We generally advise auto repair shops to consider starting "scrappy" while they get comfortable with the process, technology, and business case. They may want to look around the store to borrow some hours from a vehicle porter or similar. Sometimes managers even jump in to do a few deliveries themselves while they learn the process. Of course, we also see dealers that already have concierges but may not have the technology, in which case we think we can help them get more efficient quite quickly.

It’s very important that you have the software for compliance, especially if you’re dropping a loaner off along with the vehicle pick-up and drop-off. If that contract isn’t executed in the right way and they have an accident in the loaner, that liability will come back to you. Integration between loaner software and concierge service, that’s an issue. 

I would say there should be a nominal price for it. I don’t think it has to be free; put a value on it so the customer feels like they’re getting something for it. They feel like they’re being treated like a VIP.

How do you create a relationship so that you’re a natural choice for the customer? Next time they come into the shop, ask them, “Do you want to sign up for a concierge service?” If you do that, you’re establishing that relationship. You make it so easy that the next time you book a service, they book it with you. I can say that we’ve seen people have a lot of success.

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