Q&A with Steve Hula, Fixed Operations Director at Exclusive Automotive Group
What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to maintaining their car?
The biggest mistake is when a vehicle isn’t maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ultimately, the manufacturer has engineered the car from the ground up and knows its exact minimum requirements.
Why does every car need regular maintenance?
The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly holds true. Every car will need repairs from time to time. The cars that are regularly maintained give their owners far fewer unexpected repair bills and are less likely to leave them on the side of the road.
How often does a car need maintenance?
Both of our brands require service every 12 months or every 10,000 miles. People often think that if their car isn’t driven many miles each year that their car doesn’t need maintenance. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Lack of use in many ways can be worse for a car than moderate use. For example, the potential problems are:
Internal engine components lose their protective coating of oil, and corrosion can occur
Air conditioning systems contain lubricants that must be circulated
Brake rotors rust
Fluids absorb moisture and lose their protective properties.
Time and mileage are both equally critical elements to determine when a car is due for service.
Can maintenance expenses pay off over time?
No doubt about it, not just for the obvious reasons such as reduced repair bills and fewer breakdowns. It also protects your investment when it comes to resale value. One of the first things prospective purchasers of preowned vehicles want to know is the maintenance history of the vehicle.
What are the most common maintenance tasks that the service department performs?
Annual maintenance service is certainly toward the top of the list of tasks we perform. We also see many typical items that you’d expect like tires and brakes. Probably the most common repair we see with our brands is battery replacement. This is one repair that is largely avoidable with use of a good battery maintainer. Many of our cars aren’t driven on a daily basis. Use of a battery maintainer is essential in extending the life of the battery in these vehicles and will save you time and money in the long run.
What are two or three of the most important things a service department must do to keep their customers happy?
I think it’s critical that we do as much as we can to make things convenient for our clients. Having your vehicle in for service can be akin to a trip to the dentist, no one wants to go, but it needs to be done. We want to make that experience as pleasant as possible. This can involve things like pickup and delivery of vehicles and convenient methods of communication (text, email, phone), etc. While it may sound cliché, at the end of the day the most important thing we can do is communicate with our customers every step of the way.
How do you ensure the service department succeeds at those?
Staffing is the key to our business. We are proud to have team members that are genuinely driven to take care of our clients and go the extra mile. Despite the current labor market, we’ve been fortunate to have found great people to work for us. People are drawn to our brands, the facility, and our ownership group. This enables us to recruit top notch employees in all our departments. Once on board, we ensure that team members have the training and resources they need to take care of our clients.
In terms of size and technology, how is the new service department different from the old facility?
The new facility is around 30% larger than our old facility in terms of technician work bays. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. We now have all new, state-of-the-art equipment throughout the entire shop, vastly improved lighting, and our parts department is considerably larger, just to name a few things.
How has the new facility allowed you to enhance service?
Capacity and efficiency have improved considerably in the new facility. As a result, we’ve made a huge leap forward in our ability to quickly schedule and bring in our clients cars for service and repair work.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’d like to express a heartfelt thank you to all of our clients, and I highly encourage everyone to come out and visit the new facility. Not only is it a state-of the-art facility, it’s a warm and welcoming environment and we’d love to have you!