- To accommodate their customers' busy schedules, some auto dealerships, including Clearwater Toyota and Koons Tysons Chevy Buick GMC, are now opening their service departments on Sundays.
- According to data from the National Automobile Dealers Association, 83 percent of service departments report being open evenings and/or weekends.
- Sunday service, although still not common, could be a growing trend as dealerships strive to compete with independent repair shops.
CLEARWATER, Florida — To accommodate their customers' busy schedules, some auto dealerships, including Clearwater Toyota and Koons Tysons Chevy Buick GMC, are now opening their service departments on Sundays.
There was a time, not really that long ago, when car shopping on weekends or during the evenings was unheard of. Now, evening and Saturday sales hours are taken for granted, and many dealers routinely open their showrooms on Sundays.
But a growing number of dealerships are expanding their service hours, as well. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association State of the Industry Report for 2013, 83 percent of dealership service departments report being open evenings and/or weekends, compared to 78 percent the previous year and 72.1 percent in 2007.
And even though Sunday parts and service hours are still not common, at least some dealers around the country have found it worthwhile to keep those departments open seven days a week to take advantage of increased weekend retail activity on the part of busy consumers.
As Gregg Willard, service and parts director for Clearwater Toyota in Florida, explained to Edmunds: "I looked at Sunday traffic by our store and thought I would give myself another revenue stream."
Willard's service department has maintained Sunday hours for more than four years, and he says the response from his clientele has been "incredible — I have only had two or three complaints from customers in those four years, and the CSI [Customer Satisfaction Index] is outstanding on Sundays. I believe customers are more relaxed and not in a rush or have an easier ability to drop in on Sunday versus weekdays."
David Barrie, service director at Koons Tysons Chevy Buick GMC in Vienna, Virginia, where Sunday service was implemented seven month ago, agrees. He told Edmunds: "With everyone having busy lives in our area, it makes sense to be able to get your car serviced as well. Most everything else is open seven days a week now. We figured why not us?"
Although customer satisfaction was cited by both service directors as the main reason for Sunday hours, they also note that independent repair shops in their regions have maintained Sunday hours for many years, providing another incentive for them to expand their operations.
As Willard put it: "One reason independents got a lot of the dealer work was weekend hours. We as franchise dealers were late coming to the table."
Can we expect to be able to schedule more Sunday service appointments in the future?
Willard, for one, sees it as "the evolution of our business. I can remember opening stores up on Saturday, and people thought I was nuts back in the early '90s. Midnights in Chicago in '91. Again, people thought I was nuts. But it kept opening up the revenue streams and gave us access to those guests who may not otherwise choose dealers over independents."
Edmunds says: Seven-days-per-week shopping is now the norm, so it makes sense that consumers would expect the same for vehicle service.