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I found this quick read useful. While higher quality may be hurting dealers, I can imagine the centi-millions (billions?) this must be saving Detroit with respect to warranty work that they don't have to pay for. And it's the reason why I think Detroit should be more generous with longer, comprehensive, (admittedly nontransferable) warranties; if their cars are indeed high quality, if people only keep their cars for an average of 4-5 years, then it wouldn't cost Detroit really that much more for a great marketing tool: full 10-year/100,000 mile [nontransferable] warranties.

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Like many of the best dealers, Bob Thibodeau has invested heavily in his showrooms, in recent years, particularly in the service department, which was once among his biggest revenue generators. But things haven’t worked out quite as planned, says the Detroit-area Ford retailer.

“Quality is, today, the price of admission,” Dr. David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, tells TheCarConnection.com. The problem is that, “As quality has gone up, my service business has gone down,” laments dealer Thibodeau, and it’s not something peculiar to his showroom, or the Ford brand.

It wasn’t all that many years ago, when a customer could be expected to come up with a “punch list” of problems with a new car, defects small and large a dealer would have to fix. And other issues would crop up, often during the first few months of ownership. These days, according to data from J.D. Power & Associates and other organizations tracking quality, the typical new car is virtually trouble-free, at least during the first 90 days of ownership.

During that period, Power’s Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, shows top brands experiencing less than one “problem” for every vehicle. Even the lowest-ranked brands, such as Land Rover, now suffer fewer problems than a top nameplate, like Toyota, experienced a decade ago.

So, with fewer problems, new vehicles are spending less time in the shop, especially during the period a vehicle is covered by warranty. Normally, that is an especially lucrative source of business for dealers who make surprisingly little actually selling new cars.

Thibodeau Ford is one of many looking for ways to recoup the investment in service bays made over the last decade. It’s not always easy. Industry surveys show that consumers tend to steer clear of dealer showrooms once their vehicle is out of warranty.

Click here for the remainder of the piece.
 

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I found this quick read useful. While higher quality may be hurting dealers, I can imagine the centi-millions (billions?) this must be saving Detroit with respect to warranty work that they don't have to pay for. And it's the reason why I think Detroit should be more generous with longer, comprehensive, (admittedly nontransferable) warranties; if their cars are indeed high quality, if people only keep their cars for an average of 4-5 years, then it wouldn't cost Detroit really that much more for a great marketing tool: full 10-year/100,000 mile [nontransferable] warranties.


Thibodeau Ford is one of many looking for ways to recoup the investment in service bays made over the last decade. It’s not always easy. Industry surveys show that consumers tend to steer clear of dealer showrooms once their vehicle is out of warranty.
In my experience most consumers steer clear of dealers because many dealers lack the overall 'experience' that Lexus, Saturn, and a few other auto divisions afford their buyers. I don't think it would take very much for some dealers to improve their current level of service. It could be as simple as having complimentary cookies, coffee, or a more home like atmosphere to make it more convenient for clients when their bringing their vehicles in for service. Sometimes just showing customers you care and that they are not just another number makes a world of difference. Even though my 98' SL2 has been out of warranty for years I still wonder back to the local Saturn retailer for oil changes and an occasional fix when my mechanic is not available....why because the experience is pleasant. They don't tell me what I need to have fixed on my car but rather educate me when something goes wrong. I think the new higher quality standards would be a great opportunity for dealers to be more customer focus driven which would in turn help them to have a continious stream of customers coming through the doors long after their warranty has expired. Just my 2.5 cents.:cool:
 

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“As quality has gone up, my service business has gone down,” laments dealer Thibodeau, and it’s not something peculiar to his showroom, or the Ford brand.
Rather than lamenting Ford dealers should be boasting. Real quality from American car companies can not be repeated enough. Thibodeau can run a local ad stating his service bays are empty because Ford's are just that good. :yup:
 

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...and you see why, on average, American cars' quality have lagged behind the foreign competition for so long...dealer influence always prevailed...

Honda and Toyota dealers are thriving, so dealer profit doesn't need to depend on repairs. Honda/Acura dealers are particularly aggressive with regard to service packages; they sell service interval packages up front and ensure the customers use their service bays for proper maintenance. Many Acura dealers have a free dinner and you walk through the dealership, meet the service manager, and they escort you through the service process.

I find dealer maintenance coupons sent to my home useful and attractive in that I get a "deal" and have the maintenance done by a certified mechanic. A car wash is always extra incentive to have your service done at the dealer.

It's amazing to me that the foreign competition has been doing business this way for years and the domestic market is just now catching up. At least their mindset is changing though. :cool:
 

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I help manage a small fleet of about 7 trucks for my company. As soon as our warranty period is up, we steer clear of the dealership for service work because their pricing is ridiculous.

Cookies and coffee are nice and all but money matters.
 

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I recently got some (free) service work done at a Honda dealership. The lady at the checkout desk handed me a bag of cookies and a bottle of water for no apparent reason. As I walked out, I noticed a bunch of salesmen standing around. The young ones were obviously hitting on the girl at the front who is supposed to be a receptionist or something.

I thought to myself: why doesn't Honda just buy a parking lot, put "bottom line" prices on the window, and have a computer kiosk there if you want to special order. If someone needs a loan, he can go the bank and get one. Honda would need one employee to prep cars and one to do the paperwork.

I think customers would love it.
 

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I help manage a small fleet of about 7 trucks for my company. As soon as our warranty period is up, we steer clear of the dealership for service work because their pricing is ridiculous.

Cookies and coffee are nice and all but money matters.
It's the price you pay for factory trained technicians...dealerships don't spent time and money on sending us to classes for certifications and assessments for nothing.
 

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I help manage a small fleet of about 7 trucks for my company. As soon as our warranty period is up, we steer clear of the dealership for service work because their pricing is ridiculous.

Cookies and coffee are nice and all but money matters.
I would have to agree, I dropped off my vette at the dealership to get a few things done I can't do easily myself. They were charging $100 an hour for labor. That's stupidly high. Who in their right mind would pay that kind of money for regular service? Greed is the stealerships problem not quality of cars!
 

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Rather than lamenting Ford dealers should be boasting. Real quality from American car companies can not be repeated enough. Thibodeau can run a local ad stating his service bays are empty because Ford's are just that good. :yup:
I like this thought, Hotspur, and it's reflective of an admittedly cheesy motto by which I strive to live: when life hands you lemons, make lemonade!
 

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I recently got some (free) service work done at a Honda dealership. The lady at the checkout desk handed me a bag of cookies and a bottle of water for no apparent reason. As I walked out, I noticed a bunch of salesmen standing around. The young ones were obviously hitting on the girl at the front who is supposed to be a receptionist or something.

I thought to myself: why doesn't Honda just buy a parking lot, put "bottom line" prices on the window, and have a computer kiosk there if you want to special order. If someone needs a loan, he can go the bank and get one. Honda would need one employee to prep cars and one to do the paperwork.

I think customers would love it.
That is essentially what the chain used car dealers like CARMAX do. They just have a guy to take you through the process without the "Always Be Closing" hard sell.

But the big dealers need plenty of help with prep and loans.
 

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dealers need to realize that their cost of services needs to come down to compete with Midas brake and all those other smaller guys...
In my neck of the woods, all of the GM dealerships have the prices listed for comparable service work done by other places, like Pep Boys, Sears, etc... Most often they're a little bit cheaper, sometimes more, just depends. Of course, I don't know how often those signs are updated...

On another note, someone else earlier posted about the good treatment they got at their Acura dealer recently. Back in the '80's, in my hometown, there was a Dodge dealer that would take care of you, no matter what car you bought from them. Up until he died and the business was sold off to other operators, he was one of the biggest Dodge retailers in that area.

Here, in Grand Rapids, the Pontiac dealership used to hold 'get to know your car' classes and would wash your car every time it came in for service. For current customers, the rental car was free. They also have a really nice waiting area.

Even when I went down the road to buy my Chevy, while their services aren't quite as complimentary as the Pontiac store, it's still much better than I ever received at the Ford stores I dealt with or the Honda dealer my mother uses.

At a minimum, the local GR GM dealerships seem to better than most. Maybe it's because you can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting a GM dealership, who knows? But they definitely have their act together better than others I'm familiar with.

Some dealers know that service after the sale and dealing reasonably with people on repairs builds a lot of goodwill, no real secret there. At different times in my career worked in the service lane and have seen what goes on in a dealership from that perspective. I personally think that a lot of dealers (and I have worked in both domestic and foreign) just don't give a ****, their only concern is GET THE CHECK!

 

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This is the meaning of the phrase "A wonderful problem to have."
 

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Dealers should have the Lion share of repair business because the dealer tech people are more familiar with your car than the average garage.

But the dealers have lost a lot of that business because they have a reputation of charging excessive prices compared to your average garage.

Most people would rather take their "Chevy" to the "Chevy" dealer for repair but they know if they do they are most likely going to pay dearly.
 

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I recently got some (free) service work done at a Honda dealership. The lady at the checkout desk handed me a bag of cookies and a bottle of water for no apparent reason. As I walked out, I noticed a bunch of salesmen standing around. The young ones were obviously hitting on the girl at the front who is supposed to be a receptionist or something.

I thought to myself: why doesn't Honda just buy a parking lot, put "bottom line" prices on the window, and have a computer kiosk there if you want to special order. If someone needs a loan, he can go the bank and get one. Honda would need one employee to prep cars and one to do the paperwork.

I think customers would love it.
I have been saying this for years. I thought Scion would have been the best chance but the accessories needed to be sold.
 

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Perhaps the the Ford dealer needs to look at what he's charging and try to compete with the places he's losing his customers to.

The Ford dealers around here are totally unreasonable in terms of simple maintenance costs. The minor maintenance service for a Focus will run you $200 at a Ford dealer. Naturally, we don't take my wife's car there for service. On the other hand, we always take my car to the Chevrolet dealer, since they charge $99.00 for the minor service. That's pretty reasonable, since Jiffy Lube will hit you up for $70 for just an oil change. Besides the oil changes, the dealer gives me a ride to and from work, does a full safety inspection, tops off the other fluids, checks for codes, and washes the car for the extra $30.
 

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Rather than lamenting Ford dealers should be boasting. Real quality from American car companies can not be repeated enough. Thibodeau can run a local ad stating his service bays are empty because Ford's are just that good. :yup:
Like the Maytag repairman's gig. Maybe they could have ad campaigns where they sat around playing poker or something...
:)

My Pontiac dealer has Saturday maintenance hours...makes a huge difference to me, as I don't have to miss work for an oil change, etc., and they do all the Mr. Goodwrench stuff that the car is supposed to have checked during oil changes with a smile. That is where I go now, instead of the mechanic I used to use, who only did 9-5 M-F, and just changed the oil, or the JiffyLube, where they didn't know my car and treated me like all the other cattle. Dealer service makes my life eaiser = repeat customer.:yup:
 

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My Pontiac dealer has Saturday maintenance hours...makes a huge difference to me, as I don't have to miss work for an oil change, etc., and they do all the Mr. Goodwrench stuff that the car is supposed to have checked during oil changes with a smile. That is where I go now, instead of the mechanic I used to use, who only did 9-5 M-F, and just changed the oil, or the JiffyLube, where they didn't know my car and treated me like all the other cattle. Dealer service makes my life eaiser = repeat customer.:yup:
I get mine done at a GM dealer who is open till 9pm. Prices on maintenance are competitive, too.

I just drop the car off and have the courtesy driver take us to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
He picks us up when we're done... car's always done when we get back.
 
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