Dealers Intensify Focus On Service

May 2013, - WebXclusive

by Denise Rondini, Aftermarket Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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Southland International Trucks, based in the Birmingham, Ala., area, is just one of many dealers who are adding service bays.
Southland International Trucks, based in the Birmingham, Ala., area, is just one of many dealers who are adding service bays.

It is an old trucking industry adage that while the sales department sells the first truck, the service department sells the second, third and fourth trucks. According to David Gerrard, senior vice president of distribution at Navistar, “Without an effective relationship on the service side of the house, it is very difficult to maintain the customer relationship.”

Dealers seem to be grasping this concept, if recent news from dealer networks is any indication:

  • Volvo Trucks Strengthens Dealer Support Capacity in Southeast;
  • C-B Kenworth Expands Customer Support with Parts & Service facility in Auburn, Maine;
  • Custom Truck Sales Opens Parts & Service Location in Brandon, Manitoba;
  • Elite Support Network Continues to Raise Bar for Customer Service; and
  • International Truck Dealers Make Significant Investments Aimed at Delivering Value for Customers.

Gerrard says that in the past year the International dealer network invested nearly $60 million to renovate or add more than 250 additional service bays and increased service hours by more than 22%.

According to Mike Conroy, Peterbilt’s dealer development manager, “During the past year many dealerships invested in their service business to improve customer satisfaction, in areas ranging from technician training, both on-line and classroom settings, to additional bays.”

Volvo has seen “a strong concentration of expansions and renovations at Volvo Trucks locations in the West and Southeast regions and also in Texas. These areas have introduced more than 460 truck service bays and 500 Volvo technicians into the Volvo service network since January 2010,” says Brandon Borgna, spokesman for Volvo Trucks.

What's Behind the Trend?

There is no one thing responsible for these investments, but factors such as increased vehicle complexity, market share gains by certain OEMs, regulations and emerging technologies such as natural gas fuel systems factor into dealers’ decisions to add capacity.

“Vehicles are getting very difficult and expensive to maintain,” Gerrard says. “More customers are focusing on their core business and don’t want to worry about maintaining their trucks. This creates more intensity on dealers to address those needs for their customers.”

Since 2009, Dick Sweebe, president and CEO at The Diamond Companies, estimates he has spent about $16 million on expansion, which included increasing service and parts capacity. The move in part was in response to vehicle changes but also to accommodate customer demand.

“I did not have enough capacity to get them in and out in a timely manner,” he says. In May, Diamond Companies moved into a brand new facility in Springfield, Mo., that increased the number of bays at that location from eight to 24.

Next page: More bays, more scheduling options

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