Dealership Newsmaker Q&A: Jason Lane

Jan. 1, 2020
Jason Lane is the technical service manager at Freedom Ford in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 

Jason Lane is the technical service manager at Freedom Ford in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The dealership operates a 37-bay service shop, as well as a body shop and a two-bay Express service operation.

He spoke to Aftermarket Business World about the service department's online scheduling system and pre-paid maintenance plans.

How long have you been taking appointments online, and what technology do you use?

We've been doing this five or six years, and we use a few different systems. Appointment Plus is the main software.

We essentially have a couple of different departments. For our quick lane service, we build our schedule based on how many technicians we have available. Customers have access and can see the technician schedules. We have certain services they can pick from that have pre-assigned times, and they can pick service they require. It allows you to make the appointment based on available capacity. We get about 30 or 40 percent of those appointments online.

How important is the ability to schedule appointments for a quick lane operation? In many cases, those businesses are first come/first serve.

We've found that our clients like that prescheduled time. They're not showing up at a quick lube place and waiting for an hour before they get service. If they have an appointment at 2:30, they show up at 2:20 and within five minutes we're pulling their car into the shop.

The majority of our customers prefer it. We have trained our customers over time to book appointments. They show up and they know that their car is going in when they get there.

How have customers responded to the OEM pre-paid maintenance plans you offer?

They've become pretty popular. The customers know what their yearly operational cost is going to be for a vehicle. They get one payment a month, and other than putting tires on, for most part they have no additional costs.

What's the biggest challenge dealership service departments face right now?

For us, customer retention is always critical. The manufacturers have decreased maintenance intervals from 5,000 km here in Canada to 8,000 or 12,000 km. We're seeing fewer visits per year. I don't necessarily believe that's the right thing to do. An engine is an engine and still requires the same level of maintenance. We educate customers and encourage them to come in at that 8,000 km mark. It's really about getting them back into the store and getting that maintenance done.

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About the Author

Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a freelance journalist based in Columbus, Ohio, who has been writing about manufacturing, technology and automotive issues since 1997. As an editor with Frontline Solutions magazine, he covered the supply chain automation industry for nearly eight years, and he has been a regular contributor to both Automotive Body Repair News and Aftermarket Business World.

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