Saturday, 02 August 2008 03:17

Obtaining and Retaining a Dealership Relationship

Written by Tom Franklin
A while back I was contacted by a local body shop to create a proposal for them to attempt to obtain a contractual relationship with a very desirable dealership nearby. They were pleased with the proposal write-up, but I never heard whether or not they got the deal. Nevertheless, I added this proposal write-up to the collection of files I include with my book, Top 40 Marketing Tactics for Body Shops.

    I was recently pleased to receive an e-mail from a shop owner who purchased my book a couple of years ago. He had misplaced the diskette with the proposal and asked me to re-send it to him, which I did. Shortly thereafter I received the following e-mail from him: “Thank you for sending the files. I used the Dealer Proposal to get another dealer. In 2 years I have landed 3 dealers with this form.”
    The following is the exact dealership proposal form, but without the specific numbers to be filled in by a shop making the proposal:

Dear Sirs:
    As we’re sure you know, the quality and speed of repairs at a dealership’s authorized repair facility reflects directly on the dealership. When a dealership customer has an excellent experience with the repair facility, that customer is more likely to return to the dealership when he or she is considering the purchase of another vehicle.
    Conversely, when a customer has a bad experience at an authorized facility, with either faulty repairs, vehicle not delivered when promised, or inconsiderate customer service, that customer may be unlikely to return to the dealership when he or she is considering the purchase of another vehicle.
    Similarly the appearance of the repair facility reflects on the dealership. When personnel at a dealership refer a customer to a repair facility, the customer will expect to see a facility equally attractive in appearance to that of the dealership. By association, an unattractive repair facility appearance will lower the opinion of the dealership in the customer’s eyes.
    As you know, [XYZ] Auto Body takes great pride in maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and a professional appearance comparable to that of the dealership. We contact about [xxx] customers a month for a report on customer satisfaction. 98% of those contacted rate us between good and excellent.
    The quality of the collision repair facility can have a direct impact on future business for the dealership. We propose to provide a level of service that will have only the most positive impact on future business for the dealership.
    Although the dealership will enjoy a definite benefit just from association with a quality shop like ours, there can be significant monetary benefits as well. During the first five months of this year, we purchased [$XX,000] worth of parts from the dealership.
    If we had a mutually exclusive relationship, wherein we agreed to purchase all parts for the five makes of vehicles exclusively from the dealership, parts purchases would average [$XX,000 a month, or $XXX,000 a year]. [Note: plug in your own numbers here.]


    With a mutually exclusive relationship like this, where we are the exclusive authorized auto body repair facility for the dealership, we would also do the following:
    •Certify our technicians on each of the vehicle manufacturer’s certification program.
    •Repair lot damage at no charge.
    •Do small warranty repair jobs and minor used car repairs at cost.
    •Provide an on-site estimator at the dealership several hours a week, as needed.
    •Assist all dealership customers with complete claims handling when needed.
    •Recommend the dealership for the purchase of a new vehicle to every customer whose vehicle has been totaled by the insurance company.
    •Refer all non-collision-related mechanical work to the dealership service department
    We are also open to negotiations for any non-exclusive relationship your company might prefer to consider.
    Signed: Shop Owner for [XYZ] Auto Body

    As you can see, this proposes a serious relationship with very definite benefits for both parties. But the shop will benefit most if it puts an estimator on the dealership’s service drive every morning to write even the shortest estimate for minor dents, dings and scratches.
The more estimates written, the greater the number of jobs coming into the shop. I look forward to hearing from you if this proposal enables you to get the relationships you want.