With inventory and competition back up in the new car market, now might be the time to return the focus to your fixed operations department. On today’s Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome Nick Latino, the Fixed Ops Director of Parkway Toyota, to tell us how things are going on the fixed operations side of his dealership.
Latino began his automotive journey in high school through the Satellite program they offered. The program allowed students to take their necessary classes, and then they got sent to either automotive or fields of that nature. Latino says, “I fell in love with the industry then and then again after leaving the trucking company I was working for; that’s when I started Parkway at Toyota.”
Despite the industry’s current technician shortage, Latino claims he is fortunate enough to have a few automotive training facilities near him and brought in the training technicians as valets. This way, during their training, they would receive total exposure to the entire industry from the beginning. “After a few months of evaluating their work ethic, I brought in the trainees in an expresses maintenance store, and they received training there as well,” asserts Latino. He continues, “That’s how it must be since we can’t cherry-pick anymore. We must grow our own technicians.”
Latino claims, “We keep our technicians by giving them the tools they require on a regular basis. We may also give them a $50 gift card and inquire about how their family is doing. We build the culture. However, Latino noted that AI is the technology that modern fixed ops directors have at their disposal. With all the AI businesses out there, Parkway Toyota has chosen to work with a back-stock AI company that schedules appointments for them. As a result, the business employs fewer people and makes more money overall.
On the other hand, recently, the dealership has been dabbling in mobile service. According to Parkway Toyota’s recent survey, Latino found the results shocking. He notes, “Most of our clients preferred at-home maintenance. Especially since most people work from home, it’s more convenient for them.” Additionally, in Toyota land, there are these pre-paid maintenances for 5,000 to 25,000 miles, which customers love. Latino expresses, “We can now go to their homes, take care of their vehicles, and remove dreading tasks off their to-do list.
Ultimately, Latino claims there remains much work to be done within the industry. But, he is working closely with his technicians, he is no longer cherry-picking who comes into his dealership, and he is shifting his market concept to catch up to the speed at which the industry is changing.