In February 2020 during the NADA Show in Las Vegas, prior to the world forever being changed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, I had a chance to sit with several dealers and industry allies at the QB Business Solutions booth to talk about fixed operations and warranty reimbursement.
The first video in this post features parts of a conversation with Chariot Auto Group VP of Fixed Operations Don Frick out of Kokomo, Indiana. The second video features parts of a conversation with San Tan Ford Director of Fixed Operations John Bernath.
QB Business Solutions Founder and Owner Lumena Litts was part of both conversations.
Interview with Chariot Auto Group VP of Fixed Operations Don Frick on the Warranty Reimbursement Process
US: Please introduce yourself and your dealer group.
DON: We have a CDJR store in Kokomo, Indiana, very large, across from one of the Chrysler plants which is an advantage for us. We also have McGonigal Cadillac Buick GMC in Kokomo, as well as Abra Collision, an independent dealership. In addition we have a CDJR in Lafayette, Indiana. And we are in the process of building another CDJR to work the point south of us from Tipton to Kokomo.
US: And your role with the group?
DON: I am the Vice President of Fixed Operations for the group.
US: Can you walk us through the warranty reimbursement process for your group?
DON: Every state is different in its legislation on the reimbursement and how it works, which makes all the difference in the world for Lumena and her team. I’ve dealt with other companies in the past and quite frankly all they would do is look at your repair orders and find out how to get the highest replacement and send them off to the manufacturer and really what intrigued me about Lumena and her team is their interest in your long-term well-being and sustainability. They’re not just looking at getting the best ROs. The preparation work that she and her team put into place preparing you for that moment when they start pulling it. They want to make sure that up front that you’re doing all the correct things for process and that your websites are set up correctly, you’re following the policy and procedure, you are dotting your “i’s” and crossing your “t’s” so that when we get to that moment we are going to maximize our ability to get reimbursed at the highest level possible, plus we’re going to sustain that in case the manufacturer comes back in and 6 months or a year to re-check your paperwork.
US: What has your experience been like working with QB Business Solutions?
DON: I was so impressed with Lumena and her team. I normally don’t tout too many vendors but I brought her into my 20 group – I’m the president of my NCM group and introduced her to many members around the country – and I think many of them have begun using her company.
US: What would you tell dealers who do warranty reimbursement internally with no outside assistance?
DON: Too many dealers for the sake of trying to cut an expense or save money feels like their service manager or one of their people can do it, but I can tell you it’s a much more complicated process than that and if they’re doing it themselves then I can guarantee you they’re leaving money on the table.
Interview with San Tan Ford Director of Fixed Operations John Bernath on Warranty Reimbursement and Recruiting Service Techs
US: Please introduce yourself and your dealerships
JOHN: My name is John Bernath. I run five stores for the Richardson group. My main hub is in Gilbert, Arizona. We have 4 Ford stores and one Dodge Chrysler Jeep store.
US: How long have you been in the business of fixed ops?
JOHN: I’ve been with Ford for 30 years. I started as a technician and then became a service manager. I’ve been in my current position for about 13 years.
US: What are some significant ways that fixed ops has changed over the years for you?
A lot of things have changed. Warranty costs are going up again, especially with Ford Motor Company. Margins are shrinking on new cars so the pressure for fixed operations to perform in the last five years is about as big as it’s ever been. We’re doing all kinds of different things to make sure that our margins are staying the same and continue taking care of customers. We are putting what we call a rubber band on the customer after we sell the car to try to get them back in the service department to take care of them.
With that comes technicians. It’s a shrinking group of people so we’re having to pay them more and when we have to pay our technicians more we have to charge more, and dealing with our manufacturers is a big part of that.
US: How does your dealership address its shortage in service technicians?
We’ve actually done a lot with technicians. One of the big things we are doing is getting into the high school levels and getting the trades back into high schools and our communities. We try to show people that are in the trades who don’t want to go to college that there’s a good opportunity for them and the dealerships and manufacturers are willing to help pay for it to help you get a career. I myself am one of those guys from 30 years ago, so it’s really fun for me to get into those environments. We currently have most of our technicians in our shops that we’ve grown in one way shape or another.
US: How has QB Business Solutions helped your dealership?
JOHN: Lumena and her team were pretty instrumental not only in getting us to the standard we should be with our labor charges but also process. In my experience working with several different dealerships, they are very bad at process. We just kind of run a day-to-day business and what’s coming at us today and let’s fix this. We don’t think about cause and effect. We just handle it and move on but when you start breaking down the process side of it, asking how can I be sustainable in this business and continue to have these profit margins without any issues?
Warranty Reimbursement – Process and Long-Term Sustainability
As you can hear from both Don and John, warranty reimbursement success is about process and long-term sustainability and growth. Policy and procedures vary by manufacturer and differ from state to state. Working with an experienced team such as QB Business Solutions can, as Don might say, help make sure you aren’t “leaving money on the table.”
Don’t miss out on the money you should be earning in retail warranty labor and parts. Visit the QB Business Solutions website today to find out how much your reimbursement could be earning you.