Autoscope – A compelling independent auto shop alternative to the dealer.
Over the years, much has been written and discussed in many forms about the pros and cons of independent (non-dealer) automotive repair facilities versus dealers. Traditionally, the independent auto shop has inadvertently positioned itself as a “lower cost alternative to the dealer”. While this may have been true early on, it is not universally true any longer. eCommerce, ready availability of advanced factory-level diagnostics systems, modern technical training programs, factory and factory-level parts, have collectively leveled the playing field.
A large number of independent auto shops have effectively embraced these opportunities, and have positioned themselves to successfully compete with dealers. Autoscope is positioned as a major alternative to dealers by choosing to place emphasis on value and total customer care, not merely cutting costs. Here is a list of a few areas where we provide compelling contrasts to dealers for your European car repair in DFW.
- Technical Skills and Root-cause Diagnostics
- Complex Repairs vs. Simple Repairs
- Customers Co-mingling with Technicians
- Multi- vs. Single-brand Vehicles
- Warranty Services
- Satisfaction Surveys
- Access to Top Management
- A Place for Automotive Fun
1. Technical Skills & Root-cause Diagnostics
Autoscope has a full complement of highly-skilled technicians who can do a complete rebuild or repair of modern and complex vehicles, as well as performing the routine basic service. This is significant in that complex problems are correctly diagnosed at the onset, the root cause has been remedied, and the customer takes possession after repairs with full confidence. We deliver exemplary repair work on advanced and complex vehicles; we perform these repairs right the first time, every time. Basically, High Skills – Low Volume.
By contrast, most dealers’ business emphasis is on high-volume standard factory-recommended services as well as routine repairs, which usually require low-to-moderate technical skills. By design, these services have high profit margins for dealers; aka as “gravy” in the industry. Diagnostics generally verify the symptoms, which are then followed by parts replacements. They offer these diagnostics as “free” if customer authorizes the quoted repairs. In reality, the cost of “free” diagnostics in built into the repair costs; there is no “free lunch.” Basically, Low Skills – High Volume
2. Complex Repairs vs. Simple Repairs
Autoscope’s business model embraces all types of repairs and services, regardless of the vehicles’ complexity or sophistication. Replacing the twin turbo-chargers on a 12-cylinder Bentley or complete rebuilding of late-model Porsche engines are performed at Autoscope routinely. All by the same technicians who also perform basic maintenance services. Our technical skills are not allocated based on a repair’s complexity.
Very few people realize that most dealers avoid undertaking major and complex repairs. These repairs require significant technical skills, tie up service bays for days (and weeks, often), and require loaning vehicles to customers. The resulting low profit margins are inconsistent with their business objectives, and they often shun complex repairs. Most avoid repairing and/or servicing their own franchise-brand vehicles that are older than 6-7 years. In fact, Autoscope routinely handles repairs on vehicles sent directly to us by the dealers, themselves. If they can’t or don’t want to work on something, they send it to us.
3. Customer Commingling with Technicians
As an element of our pride in our workmanship, we encourage customers to see their vehicle while being repaired, engage our technicians for better understanding of the issues being resolved, and develop a better appreciation of the correlations among faulty areas or sub-systems. This also creates a bond between our customers and technicians. Our technicians develop knowledge regarding the vehicle, the owner, and their history, which facilitates future diagnostics and repair recommendations.
Most dealers neither encourage nor permit customer/technician interaction. Service advisors are assigned as the customer-technician liaison/intermediary, which can lead to technicians’ misunderstanding of the real issues, incorrect diagnosis, or frequent customer calls – – all eventually lead to repetitive repair visit to have the original complex issue resolve.
4. Multi- Vs. Single-brand Vehicles
Autoscope employs senior and highly-skilled technicians who are specific to the European vehicle brands we serve. This brand-specific specialization enables us to confidently work on these vehicles and provide a full array of quality services and repairs. Customers with multi-brand vehicles in their household can enjoy the convenience of bringing all their European vehicles to one company, Autoscope. We also have the freedom of selecting the best diagnostics systems on the market, as well as establishing business practices custom-tailored to our customers’ preferences.
Dealers are brand-specific (they are authorized to only service & repair the vehicle brands they sell), and their business practices are dictated by the “parent” company or corporate headquarters. Custom-tailoring to accommodate unique situations cannot be readily put in effect. Customers with a BMW, an Mercedes-Benz, and Audi in their household will have to visit 3 separate dealers.
5. Warranty Services
As an integral part of our diagnostic services or courtesy inspection, we identify all discoverable issues with the vehicle. We also inform the customer of those repairs that are covered under factory warranty. Although we can perform repairs that are covered by factory warranty, we leave it up to the customer to decide whether to pay Autoscope for the warranty service (for convenience), or have it performed by the dealer.
Contrary to popular belief, “maintained by dealer under factory warranty” does not mean that all repairs known to or identified by dealer during diagnosis or inspection will be reported to customer and fixed under warranty (recalls are excepted.) Dealers generally repair under warranty ONLY those problems reported by a customer, except for safety-related issues. So, at the warranty expiration date, an under-warranty dealer-maintained vehicle may still have myriad outstanding problems. Unfortunately for the customer, the undisclosed problems begin surfacing shortly after the warranty expires, and the customer will have to foot the bill, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Check out this post for more about extended warranties.
6. Satisfaction Surveys
While Autoscope places a very high priority on total customer satisfaction, and we have follow-ups and measurements to ensure very high customer satisfaction, we do not have corporate-mandated customer satisfaction targets. Our business primarily consists of repeat and referral customers, which are the best indicators of customer satisfaction. We do not exact a “5” rating from our customers; we don’t depend on factory incentives (see next paragraph).
Most dealers are required by vehicle manufacturers to achieve and maintain a very high (5/5) customer satisfaction rating, whether or not such ratings are voluntarily given by customers, persuaded, or even coerced. These ratings are used by manufacturers to establish dealer incentives, new vehicle allocations, business subsidies, etc. Incidents of customer “black-balling” for a less-than-4 rating exist.
7. Access to Top Management
By design, Autoscope’s customer-facing operations are highly streamlined (we don’t have rows and rows of greeters, service advisers, and porters). We focus on knowing each customer and establishing a lasting bond. We meet, greet, and engage to truly get to know customers and their plans for the vehicle (e.g., keeping it long-term, giving it to children, selling it, down-grading it to a back-up vehicle, etc.) We then develop a custom-tailored service and repair program and provide it to the customer with programmed systematic follow-ups, so they don’t have to. We do not refer to our customers by Order Number. Our top executives and decision makers are available on-site full-time, and are fully accessible at all times.
At most dealers, the top management is invisible. The dealership may be a part of a major national chain (even though a local ownership image is presented), the top management is at the corporate offices in some distant city, or is “buried” within the dealership complex. Customers must have a real hard and fast issue to warrant access to them, and such access is often provided by appointment. A sense of immediacy or genuine concern seems absent. By the time a customer concern is reviewed, filtered, diverted, and closed, the real issue may not surface at the decision-making level.
8. A Place for Automotive Fun
We built Autoscope facilities to provide our customers with an exemplary automotive experience. We provide all the amenities provided by dealers, plus the unique opportunity to experience automotive fun, such as:
- Engaging our management on automotive, business and technology matters
- Interacting with our technicians and learning about nuances of your vehicles
- Having access to our vast variety of premium journals and magazines
- Having access to our dual dynos for test-drives and modifications
- Using our conference rooms at our Park Cities repair facility
- Hosting automotive events
- Just hanging around with a cup of coffee and conversations
- And more…