Dealerware’s mobile fleet management tools can significantly reduce the costs of operating a loaner fleet, while also helping employees recover some of the time they must spend on each piece of the loaner contract process.

In a recent contribution to Ward’s Auto, Dealerware President Russ Lemmer shared advice on how to avoid common loaner management pitfalls that might leave dealerships stuck with the bill for costs their customers incur. In this post, we’ll look at some of the ways Dealerware automates cost recovery and also discuss ways Dealerware helps make fixed ops more efficient. 

Connect, automate, recover.

The most familiar benefit provided by Dealerware’s Connected Car Services is likely automated fuel cost recovery. Not every dealership equipped with Dealerware charges their customers for fuel costs. However, as discussed in Lemmer’s July article for Ward’s, it’s likely that customers may expect responsibility for fuel costs. Dealers that proactively communicate refueling charges and set fees that match the lowest local fuel prices can recover these costs without jeopardizing CSI.

Another major benefit of Dealerware’s Connected Car Services is not directly tied to cost recovery. We regularly hear from our customers that the GPS capabilities unlocked with Connected Car Services save them time and help them serve more customers to a higher level of satisfaction.

Dealerships using Connected Car Services can see exactly where on their lot (or satellite lots) their loaner fleet cars are, helping porters find, stage, and contract loaners out to customers sooner. Connected Car Services also provides a real time look at battery levels and mileage, making it easier to balance utilization across a fleet and prevent undue downtime that dead batteries can create.

How much time is really on offer through Connected Car Services? Well, dealerships who use Dealerware to track vehicle locations, monitor vehicle help, and automate contracting processes have told us they’ve saved hundreds of man-hours, or reduced their customers’ wait times from 20 minutes down to 2. 

For more advice on maximizing cost recovery and operational efficiency with Dealerware, download our Loaner Fleet Management Playbook.

Toll recovery: bigger than a couple bucks

Any dealership near a busy toll road knows that a dollar here and three dollars there can turn into thousands, fast. Dealerware Toll Services are the only solution integrated directly with U.S. toll authorities to automatically identify tolls charged to a loaner vehicle, then charge customers for that fee. This means our Toll Services capture all the toll fees your customers incur, no matter how long it takes the toll agency to issue a bill.

It also means Toll Services can free your dealership from toll late fees, which we know can easily snowball out of control. In one case we’ve heard, a dealership had an employee responsible for searching for loaner vehicles on the toll agency websites. Unfortunately, when that employee went on vacation for a week, nobody was looking for tolls. The late fees became an unwelcome surprise for the employee returning from vacation, and for the dealership’s bottom line.

Considering that story, it might be obvious how Toll Services helps recover more than money. Across a fleet of even a dozen cars, searching license plate numbers on toll websites every time a loaner is returned can take serious time.

In the case of the vacationing toll watchdog, Dealerware’s Toll Services won back time that employee could use to work with customers and keep repair orders and loaner contracts moving more quickly. Rather than dedicating time to tedious computer work, that employee can now contribute to improved CSI scores and perhaps even fixed ops profitability.

Fleet Flexibility

Finally, we know that as customer demands change, Dealerware products are helping dealerships adapt. One major change has been the increase in at-home or self-guided test drives. Both of the tools discussed here, Connected Car Services and Toll Services, could make good additions to vehicles used for test drives. 

Dealerships that give customers more control in the test drive process shouldn’t have to eat extra costs in return – Connected Car Services and Toll Services can help track assets and measure how fuel and toll costs contribute to eventual sales. Dealers may also want to investigate using standard loaner contracts in Dealerware to reduce their liability during an at-home test drive and automatically recover fuel and toll costs that a potential buyer might incur. 

These ideas depend on many factors including the dealership’s insurance policies and brand guidelines, so it’s best to have a thorough understanding of those limitations before trying new cost recovery strategies. For those dealerships ready to interact with customers beyond their own lot, the Dealerware Guide to Retail Automotive in the New Normal includes new ideas and strategies for out-of-dealership service success.