Service Director David Nettesheim, standing in front, second from left, General Manager Andy Little, standing
in front, third from left, and Service Manager Sean Mehaffey, kneeling on the left, with members of the Fred Anderson Toyota Dream Service team. “This is a way to get people through in a convenient manner,” Little said.
Some technicians and service writers at Fred Anderson Toyota start work at 3 p.m.
And they don’t call it a day until 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
In April, the Raleigh, N.C., dealership launched what it calls its “Dream Service” program with a dedicated staff that works on vehicles when most other service departments are closed.
Bryan Galloway, fixed operations director for Anderson Automotive Group, said the service business has been growing year over year. Essentially, the store ran out of room and turned to later hours as a way to boost capacity.
The Dream Service program is not the dealership’s first attempt to get more customers through its service bays.
About three years ago, the service department added Sunday hours. Sunday business continued to grow to the point that 80 to 90 cars would be serviced on a typical Sunday.
“We had a hard time getting people through,” said Andy Little, the dealership’s general manager. “This is a way to get people through in a convenient manner.”
Routine maintenance such as oil changes, brake repair, tire rotations and state inspections make up about three-quarters of the Dream Service team’s work, Galloway noted.
Guaranteed to be done
The deadline for customers to arrive is 9 p.m. If the technicians have all the required components, the service department guarantees to have the work finished by 7 a.m. the next day.
“There’s a new customer out there who works later shifts,” Galloway said. “Not everybody is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
The Dream Service team is made up of five service advisers, 11 technicians and a full-time driver for a shuttle, which runs until 9 p.m.
The shuttle has proved to be popular among customers, who are encouraged to take advantage of it as there are a movie theater, a grocery store and a mall nearby. The shuttle will drop customers off anywhere within 10 miles of the dealership.
“It’s all for convenience,” said David Nettesheim, service director at Fred Anderson Toyota.
Not surprisingly, hiring for the Dream Service team was an obstacle at first.
“Our biggest problem initially was staffing,” Nettesheim said. “We did not have enough people when we first started. So instead of waiting a few extra weeks to staff up, we cut back on our nighttime appointments for the first couple weeks to compensate for being a few people short of where we are now.”
Once staffing was figured out, the dealership quickly found that there was strong customer traffic in the later hours.
“We hit the ground running with a full plate,” Nettesheim said.
The program now averages 62 customers a day. That figure is in addition to the 200 customers that bring their vehicles in for service during normal business hours.
All told, the service department includes 52 technicians and 24 service advisers, covering 38 service bays. The dealership has more than 100,000 active service customers, Nettesheim said.
Fred Anderson Toyota is a part of Anderson Automotive Group, which ranks No. 69 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S. with retail sales of 13,606 new vehicles in 2015.
Fred Anderson Toyota sold 3,710 new vehicles and 2,282 used vehicles in 2015.
Adding Dream Service also has helped out with scheduling and wait times at the service department.
“We were having to schedule out two to three days in advance,” Galloway said of operations before the extended hours.
Now, Nettesheim said, wait times have been reduced by 20 to 25 minutes across the board.
Eventually, the dealership hopes to have two completely different shifts: a true morning shift and a true evening shift.