How to Cut Costs and Improve Quality in your Service Department


A well-functioning service department is the lifeblood of any dealership. In many ways, it is the face of your dealership that customers experience more frequently than your sales department. There is huge potential here to deliver a quality product (service) to customers and cement a positive reputation for your dealership in the process. But every service manager faces the same dilemma: How to reduce costs while continuing to improve quality.

People First

The quality of service you provide depends a great deal on the happiness and motivation of those providing the service. When looking to cut costs, wages tend to stick out as a large expense on any balance sheet. But cutting staff pay, or letting staff go, is not the best approach when trying to maintain a happy, motivated workforce.

Although counterintuitive to cost-cutting, time and money spent motivating your workforce and ensuring their happiness can pay huge dividends in productivity, customer relations and overall efficiency.

Better Organization Leads to Better Efficiency

What are your dealerships priorities? Is everyone on board with these objectives and working in sync to accomplish them? Where is your staff spending the bulk of their time? Is this efficient use of time, or can some changes in process be made that will increase productivity?

What about synergy between parts and service? Are technicians spending an inordinate amount of time chasing parts or waiting for parts deliveries? A thorough analysis of your fixed operations processes and procedures could yield a treasure trove of opportunities for better organization and better efficiency.

Fixed First Visit

This is a hot topic for manufacturers, service managers and dealers alike. Failing to fix a vehicle right the first time is bad for business. It is bad for your dealership’s reputation, and ultimately it is bad for profits. Taking a long, hard look at FFV rates and ways to improve FFV can make one of the biggest differences in cutting costs. Ironically, an improvement in FFV will also improve the level of service offered and customer satisfaction will improve.

Online Booking

How much time do your service advisors and service receptionists spend making appointments over the phone? How many over-bookings and under-bookings do you experience on a regular basis?

Online bookings systems are gaining in popularity among dealership service departments as a way to increase efficiency through the use of technology. By offering a basic menu of services and a booking system on your website that accounts for the standard hours for each service, you will be freeing up more time for your staff and allowing the customers a form of self-service control that they are looking for.

Of course there will still be many repairs that require interaction with staff, but for basic brake jobs, oil changes, tire rotations and the like, you can get customers in the door without the need for interaction before the fact, and the allotted time for each repair will be automated. It’s a great solution.