Pickup and delivery services caught on quickly in Spring 2020 as dealerships adjusted to new operating realities during a global pandemic.
For some, pickup and delivery has been a lifeline, keeping customer vehicles coming into the dealership for service. In southeastern Pennsylvania, an area less affected by the pandemic, the valet service Audi Mechanicsburg offers certainly eases customers’ anxiety, but it’s also just a convenient option for customers who might otherwise have to drive an hour or more to bring their car in for service.
From their unique position as an Audi dealer serving a large area that has not been significantly disrupted by COVID-19, Audi Mechanicsburg is also proving that any dealer can offer new conveniences to their customers without risking the health of their bottom line.
Using Dealerware’s Mobile Contacts, Connected Car Services and Toll Services, Audi Mechanicsburg is now recovering 97% of their fuel and toll cost, making a significant difference to the dealerships’ cost recovery strategy during a time when cost management matters more than ever.
“Two years ago we started using Dealerware’s Fully Mobile Contracts and Connected Car Services. We moved off of Reynolds & Reynolds’ standard contract to make the process completely paperless. From there, we added Toll Services which has allowed us to truly automate so much of the manual work that was being done previously,” said Audi Mechanicsburg Service Manager Jon Yetter.
“We’ve always offered loaner vehicles at no cost, but when COVID hit we began charging customers for the fuel and tolls that were incurred during the contract. We let customers know upfront that we charge the same prices as the local gas station to fuel up the vehicle upon return,” Yetter said.
“Two things happened – while some customers enjoyed the convenience of not having to touch the pump if they didn’t feel comfortable, even more brought the vehicle back with a full tank. That allowed us to ready the vehicle faster for the next customer,” he said. “We like being able to offer a higher level of customer service, as well as create more efficiencies. Response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re seeing significant cost savings at the same time.”
With a temporary reduction in staff, it was important to be able to easily identify which vehicles were on the lot, clean and available for the next customer, as well as which vehicles might be off the lot and not under contract. Dealerware’s newly added Off Lot Detection, a feature of our Connected Car Services, gave Yetter access to that information right from his Dealerware dashboard, saving him time and money.
“The Connected Car Services really took it up a level in terms of efficiency and physically managing the cars,” Yetter said. “We are able to maximize repair orders by utilizing every vehicle that is on-lot and available, while also making sure that when vehicles leave for valet services the contract is started, meaning fuel and toll charges are being accounted for automatically.”
“Audi at your Door” was launched in response to the pandemic and required dealers to offer valet offerings for service customers and find ways to make these services contactless. For Yetter and Audi Mechanicsburg, meeting the requirements was easy.
“Two years ago we were already moving this direction; Audi already saw the benefits of this in terms of customer efficiencies,” Yetter said.
He explained “Audi is always very progressive about dealership innovations, sharing that information with dealers and trying to pair them with the vendors to get that stuff to market as quickly as possible.” When Audi at your Door launched, all Yetter and team had to do was make their already-effective valet workflows contactless.
Though his dealership and region are “blessed and fortunate that we have not been heavily impacted by COVID,” he knows that these touchless workflows and the contactless contracts in Dealerware Mobile help put customers at ease.
“Whenever a customer wants [a contactless experience] we can use it with them,” he said, adding that “our usage [of the feature] is pretty light right now, but it could be much higher if our area was more impacted – it’s a great concept for the COVID situation.
However, Yetter says, contactless contracting is “an even better concept for valet services.”
Where contactless contracts could help most, he said, is ensuring that customers sign and agree to the terms of their contract – including fuel and toll charges – before a porter ever leaves the dealership to deliver a loaner vehicle.
Yetter says he’s eager for the introduction of contactless contracts on Dealerware Web, and says once that feature is available he’ll likely use it for every pickup and delivery appointment his team handles. He expects that centralizing contactless contracting processes will help make the vehicle exchange more efficient for the dealership’s drivers, and should eliminate the occasional need for a porter to confirm information with customers during a vehicle exchange,
Altogether, pickup and delivery is an easy choice for customers in the far reaches of Yetter’s service area, and Dealerware’s cost recovery tools make it easy for Yetter and his team to deliver this convenience without risks.