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Replacement Loaner Car suggestions


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I don't really know what heading to put this under, but I see this as a marketing advantage.  I am the first shop in my area to have a no-charge loaner car program, but now I am one of two.  So it's really a marketing advantage, so here I am, posting under Advertising and Promotions.

 

I am in the process of replacing my loaner car.  I would like real world advice from my fellow techs and shop owners.  We all have our preferences and we all see certain vehicles in our shops more than others.  Shop A might see very few imports while Shop B might see a mix.  So Shop B could have more insight into what imports have problems and what those problems might be than Shop A. 

Okay, now the conditions I have for my loaner, I have wanted a minivan since I put my first loaner into service.  I have had a very few customers decline the use of the loaner because they needed more than 5 passenger seating.  I have had customers decline the loaner car because their driveway was uphill and we are in Northern Lower Michigan where snow is a consideration, so I have wanted AWD too.  My first loaner was a Mercury Sable, replaced by an immaculately maintained Honda CRV so I at least got the AWD I wanted, even though it was not a important while I have had it as it was when I had the Sable. 

 

I know that anything I have will be a compromise for my customers at times.  Even if I had a car, a truck, a minivan and a full-sized van, all with AWD, chances are the specific one the customer would want would be out, so compromise it will be.  That and I am too small to float the expense of too many loaner cars.  So what I am asking is, within the following parameters, what would each of you recommend for a reliable, low cost of ownership vehicle?  What would you put into your fleet if you were working within my parameters?

  • I want to spend about $10,000
  • No new vehicle leases
  • NO, and I mean NO European brand/influenced models
  • AWD would be preferable but not required
  • Easy to understand operation of such things as lights, windows, ignition, etc.  My current CR-V has window switches on the dashboard instead of the door, the ignition has that funny turn-off, stop, push in and turn to lock and the rear hatch has to have the glass released then the door opens like a door.  All of this confuses some customers. 

 

My average loaner car usage is between 6,000-8500 miles a year so a higher mileage specimen would not be out of the question.  Thank you for all for your time and suggestions.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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