To the Houston area’s Fred Haas Toyota World and Fred Haas Toyota Country, that conventional approach looked like a business opportunity. Though the two dealerships are extremely large and already incredibly successful, they recently adopted a seven-days-a-week service schedule to better serve their customers.
“We had a feeling they would appreciate it if we opened our doors on Sunday,” says Mark Wood, service director at Fred Haas Toyota World. “But to be sure, we sent out an email survey. The customer response was very favorable. So, almost two years ago we rolled it out.”
The extended offering does have its limits, however. The service departments at both dealerships are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. But the Sunday hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
And while the full range of maintenance and repair services are offered the other days of the week, the Sunday focus is on express work, such as oil changes, tire rotations, tire replacement and repair, front-end alignments and battery replacements. However, minor repairs, certain recall campaigns, and other minor warranty repairs are also available.
Keeping Pace with ToyotaCare
Barry Whitlock, service director at Fred Haas Toyota Country, says the ToyotaCare cost-free maintenance program—launched in 2010—is helping to drive this new business.
“We have a separate express maintenance facility, in part to help keep up with the growth created by ToyotaCare,” he says. “Expanding our hours during the week really wasn’t going to help with that very much. A lot of people can only come in on the weekends.”
Wood says the Sunday service option got off to a slow start, but quickly gained momentum when the dealership began promoting the new hours on its website and via a big banner in the service lane. Nearly two years later, the volume continues to grow. And Saturdays are just as busy as ever.
“At first, it basically took away some of the flow from Saturday,” says Wood. “But now, the Saturday business is back to normal and the Sunday business is growing. We started out with eight express technicians and two service advisors on Sunday. Now we’re up to 12-14 techs and four advisors. The Sunday volume has nearly doubled since we started it.”
Technicians Like It, Too
The two dealerships’ service staffs seem to have adjusted, too. Wood says some of his technicians actually prefer to work the Sunday shift in exchange for working a half-day during the week—thus making it easier for them to manage their personal schedules.
The bigger picture? The expanded schedule increases the likelihood that customers will continue to return to the dealerships for their service and maintenance work, rather than migrate to independent repair shops. That, in turn, increases the chances they’ll buy another vehicle from Fred Haas when the time comes.
“Once our customers make their last ToyotaCare visits, the last thing we want is to have them thinking about going somewhere else,” says Wood. “We have them up to 25,000 miles, but we need to work hard to keep them at 30,000. Opening on Sunday helps with that.”
“Independent repair shops are open so we should be, too,” says Whitlock. “This is all about our customers and taking care of them on their schedule.”
“It’s not for everyone,” adds Wood. “But for a certain mix of customers, it is very much appreciated. I don’t see us ever going away from it.”