Digital workshop processes in the car dealership.

Digital workshop processes in the car dealership.

The trend towards digital and transparent processes continues to grow in all industries and is now increasingly reaching German car dealerships. When people think of digital processes in car dealerships, they think primarily of car diagnostic equipment or electronic repair support systems. Fully digital service processes, measuring the capacity utilisation in the workshop as well as online appointment booking and transparent tracking of the repair status for the customer are not yet part of the focus of the German dealership organisations. Digitalisation therefore still has enormous potential within the German car dealership landscape.

Although IT structures are becoming increasingly important with regard to service process flows in the car dealership due to external factors, 90 % of the workshops still have no digitalisation strategy to date. 40 % of the workshops have not even planned an IT budget – only 19 % have an existing IT budget.

Digitalisation as a necessary step towards competitiveness

One of the latest drivers is certainly the pandemic situation. The “need for digitalisation” is now also becoming greater among small and medium-sized businesses. Up to now, there has been less pressure in this regard, as the order backlog could be generated even without digital solutions. However, repair and service work is currently experiencing an initial idle period, primarily due to a lack of “walk-in customers”. Customer retention is therefore currently essential for car dealership groups. Ideally, customers should and want to be informed about the status of the vehicle around the clock.

In addition, OEMs increasingly see themselves as innovators for cross-company IT solutions for linking vehicles, customers and dealerships, and the workshop landscape in Germany is unable to implement these requirements in ongoing operations in the short to medium term. One reason is certainly the (insufficient) IT infrastructure in the individual companies. The software options specified by the OEM cannot be used (immediately) to digitally map the daily business. The consequences are then system breaks and manual “interim solutions”.

Surveys show that many retail companies have a fundamental interest in digital progress in their own company. The fear of a lack of know-how and too little capacity, as well as the apparently non-existent medium- or long-term added value for increasing sales, is still too often ignored to date.

Already first progress

Nonetheless, there are already some initial good signs in German car dealership operations. Particularly in customer communication, digital solutions are increasingly being used with their own apps or online appointments via the company website. There are no limits to the digital workshop processes. The next stage of expansion is fully digital software solutions, ideally cloud-based and editable by every employee in the company on all terminals with a uniform user interface.

The customer has already scheduled the service or repair appointments himself via his own app, and the employee in the car dealership can start immediately with the order planning in a digital workshop planning software. With the help of a “digital file” including history, it is possible for the service advisor and the workshop to view all information about the order.

In concrete terms, this means that the workshop manager and service manager have an overall view of the orders internally: They assign them to the employees, track the workload and capacity and can also check and intelligently control downstream processes such as invoicing. For the external processes, the car dealership can provide the customer with a transparent overview of costs and pick-up times with the help of online appointment booking solutions and the tracking of the repair status.

These are not visions, but the reality in the car dealership.

Employees must also develop further.

Paper-based job folders and an overloaded telephone hotline could soon be a thing of the past and maintain long-term competitiveness. The employee has a better overview of the customer status and, with the help of fully digital software solutions in the car dealership, also serves their individual needs more specifically. This makes it all the more important that, in addition to investment in IT infrastructure, the employer, i. e. the car dealerships, also empower employees to effectively use innovative software solutions.

The Munich Consulting Group is currently working intensively on digital workshop processes and advises on the efficient use of software solutions in car dealerships. For this purpose, we analyse innovative digitalisation solutions/products on the market. In doing so, we carry out an individual stocktaking and requirements analysis, and support the car dealership/car dealership group in the selection of the system. We create training concepts, carry them out and accompany the development of the system until it is taken over into operation.

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Marco Mauler
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