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Dealer Forward: how technology is optimizing the service department workflow

The emergence of new technologies and car buyer preferences has created new ways to improve service department profitability, but what tools should dealers choose? On this episode of Dealer Forward, host Tiffani Stefanescu, Xtime performance manager at Cox Automotive, is joined by Kris Pollard, corporate fixed operations director of Keffer Auto Group, to discuss key findings from Cox Automotive’s newest study on the ways dealers are keeping up with the rapid evolution of automotive retailing and how managers can implement new solutions in the service department.

Cox Automotive’s research shows that the service department has been the most neglected in terms of advancements. While this means many fixed operation teams are working with outdated tools and practices, it also signifies the vast number of untapped opportunities waiting to be found by forward-thinking dealers. For example, Pollard notes that his service teams have improved the transparency, convenience and efficiency of client communications by using Xtime’s video chat capabilities. This feature allows technicians to showcase needed repairs to car owners from the comfort of their homes. “We’ve seen that our close rates, from having the opportunity to walk customers back to their car and see the failed [components]…those close rates are much higher than just the service advisor trying to rely on that information.”

Since today’s customers prioritize efficiency, service department teams must regularly fine-tune their processes to continue earning new clients. This often requires adapting new technologies which optimize the daily workflow of fixed operations teams. “These tools give our employees a better experience; they give our customers a better experience,” remarks Pollard. However, this is not to suggest that dealers invest in new toolkits without first doing their research. Keffer Auto Group weighs new innovations by first asking: what’s in it for me? “With the Xtime tool, it’s clear what’s in it for them,” continues Pollard. “Everyone does a lot less running around…which allows them to focus and improve their process…” Xtime also measures how long certain activities take, allowing management teams to identify problem areas and develop solutions.

While dealers stand to substantially boost service department profit through adopting new technologies, they must be sure to choose programs that allow for cross-platform integrations. These capabilities allow different software suites to communicate with each other, drastically improving the functionality of management tools. For example, the level of integration between Xtime and Dealertrack, as Pollard notes, “couldn’t be more seamless.” The connectivity allows managers to be consistent, ensuring that technicians do not miss any maintenance or repair needs.

Xtime can also help service departments better communicate with OEMs in the event of recalls. Recall work can easily trip up a team’s workflow due to its unexpected nature. “We do a better job because the recalls, during the [client] scheduling, are communicated back to the service advisor, and they know that the car has a recall on it,” remarks Pollard. This ensures that service departments are able to properly organize their workflow to avoid frustrations. “You can create a business model and the experience, again both for the customer and the employees, that you want,” Pollard concludes.

For a closer look at the tactics discussed here and how dealers can apply them in the service department, visit to download the new ebook: “Three Profit Opportunities for Today’s Fixed Ops.”

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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