Vehicle Health Checks will be increasingly important to dealers as they seek to maintain profitability in the face of falling maintenance spending, says Pinewood.
This week, Trend Tracker reported that the real terms value of the car SMR market had fallen by 21% in the last decade and that the trend will continue – with a fall of 25% by 2015.
Neville Briggs, managing director, said that the key figure in the Trend Tracker report was the average number of dealer transactions per motorist had fallen from 2.01 per year to 1.50.
He explained: "If the dealer sees the customer less, then the opportunities for profits fall. Also, there is a reduced likelihood that dealers will have the opportunity to identify work on a vehicle, sometimes essential safety work, which is needed.
"This is why Vehicle Health Checks are so important. They ensure that when a dealer sees the customer on their car that they maximise the opportunity to sell additional services and ensure that the vehicle is kept in the best condition."
Pinewood added a VHC system free of charge to its Pinnacle dealer management software at the end of 2009 and has achieved a very rapid adoption rate with a penetration of more than 50 per cent among its dealer customer base.
Briggs continued: "Reports from dealer groups indicate that the additional profits generated by using the Pinnacle VHC are, in effect, paying for or exceeding the entire monthly charge that we make for using the DMS. They can be an extremely productive tool if used in a structured and disciplined way.
"We are expecting many more of our customers to start using the VHC system within the next few months. Many, or even most, of those who have not done so to date are tied into third party VHC software contracts but have indicated they will switch to Pinnacle as soon as their commitment ends."
Among the dealer groups making use of the VHC system is Pebley Beach, which holds Suzuki and Hyundai franchises in Cirencester and Swindon. The group was already making extensive use of VHCs but has further refined its approach with excellent results thanks to the Pinnacle VHC system.
Dominic Threlfall, managing director at Pebley Beach explained: "Most dealerships make some use of VHCs and we were previously running a fairly successful manual system ourselves before the new enhancement to Pinnacle.
"What the new system has allowed us to do is bring about a number of improvements in our approach to VHCs that mean they are working better than ever before for us."
About the Pinnacle Vehicle Health Check
The Pinnacle VHC allows technicians to gather information about each vehicle reviewed in the workshop either on paper or direct on a workstation into the DMS. For further enhanced functionality and ease of use, Pinewood offers optional integration via an iPod Touch or similar handheld device.
Service desk staff are then prompted by Pinnacle to check with the vehicle’s owner whether the work identified by the technician can be carried out. If accepted, it is automatically added in the DMS to job cards and parts ordering.
Pinnacle customers are familiar with unrivalled reporting functionality, with VHC providing detailed reporting analysis allowing dealer managers to track the results of using the system, and act upon the new rich data source.
Briggs underlined the advantages of using the Pinnacle VHC compared to the standalone, third party vehicle health check systems that are often used by dealers.
He said: "These third party systems rarely integrate fully with each dealer’s DMS system, if at all, and obviously cost more to use than adopting the Pinnacle VHC. The advantages for existing customers in using our system are obvious."