Bodyshop business is up – now dealers need to build on the momentum elsewhere

Bodyshop business is up – now dealers need to build on the momentum elsewhere

According to research carried out by ABP, almost three-quarters of bodyshops have seen an increase in repair volumes this year and are expecting business levels to continue to grow throughout 2017.

As revealed by AM Online, the organisation’s annual study (UK Body Repair Industry Economic Climate report) shows that 74% of respondents have reported an increase in business over the last 12 months, including bodyshops associated with franchised dealers, with more than two-thirds also reporting an increase in their pre-tax profits. Interestingly, this demonstrates a huge turnaround from ABP’s inaugural report in 2011 when only 19% of respondents declared an improvement to profits.

This is good news for the industry, particularly given the ‘Brexit-effect’, which has left many sectors with concerns over consumers tightening their belts and what this would mean for business levels. It’s a welcome change to see an air of optimism amongst automotive bodies. Indeed, ABP’s report picked up on this with the statement that “72% of bodyshops are expecting to increase their business levels in the next year, with just 2% expecting a small fall in business”.

Of course, while it’s nice to enjoy healthy business levels, they can never be taken for granted. Whether it’s car body repairs, servicing or tyre sales, managers should always work towards improving the customer journey and maximising income opportunities. With that in mind, here are our top three tips for boosting performance, in both bodyshops and elsewhere in aftersales departments:

 

Embrace technology
Choosing the right systems and tools, and applying them to aftersales, can make a huge difference to overall profitability. The use of electronic vehicle health check software for example can deliver many benefits for franchised dealers, particularly in terms of building customer relationships. As the technology enables red and amber jobs to be identified quickly, consistently and professionally, customers are given full transparency and visibility over any work that may be required; something which helps to instil confidence in the customer, making a purchase more likely.

Bodyshops in particular should take advantage of the benefits eVHC software has to offer; primarily as a way of demonstrating their duty of care towards the customer. Vehicles taken in for body repair work have typically been involved in an accident. Although damage may seem relatively minor (scratched paintwork, dents), there’s always a risk that further less obvious damage may have occurred which, if left unattended, could prove problematic later on. By offering to conduct an eVHC whilst carrying out body repairs, technicians can ensure that the vehicle leaves the workshop in full working order, giving motorists peace of mind and demonstrating that all important duty of care.

To a certain extent, the degree to which dealerships can increase their ROI and reap the benefits of eVHC technology depends on the type of system chosen.  While some systems on today’s market focus on the general ability to log work, others (such as autoVHC V2) offer more enhanced functionality to further boost the health check process and deliver a more enriched service for both the dealer and the customer. (Read more about what to look for in an eVHC system here)

 

Improve customer communication
It’s important that staff are properly trained in how to communicate with customers and deliver the most appropriate solutions, based on the customer’s needs. We’ve previously blogged about encouraging technicians to show a bit of TLC – by ‘Thinking Like the Customer’. When service advisors see the value in what they’re selling from the customer’s point of view, it gives rise to a more ethical and ultimately more practical way of increasing sales. Reassurances, along with clear communication between dealer and customer, are key to building sales, a positive reputation and ensuring customer retention.

 

Demonstrate flexibility
Today’s customer service is all about offering flexibility and convenience, and it’s vital that both bodyshops and aftersales teams don’t lose sight of this. Dealers will commonly book out their workshop capacity, leaving little option for ‘same day’ services. Instead of booking out workshop capacity, dealers should look to retaining a small portion of the day which can be dedicated to unscheduled work; an 80 – 20 split for example. This way, if a customer is previously booked in for a service, any necessary work can be carried out on the same day. It also gives motorists the flexibility to ‘drop in’ for non-urgent repairs which have been previously identified.

Similarly, in the event that a motorist does not want to claim on their insurance for unexpected repairs, or is faced with a significant excess to pay, bodyshops in particular should be prepared to offer the option of an interest-free instalment financing plan. This way, customers can avoid the upfront costs of unexpected repairs. Having a more flexible approach pays dividends in terms of customer satisfaction and ongoing loyalty.