- Subaru of America is helping dealers beef up their service departments with its new Fixed Operations Expansion or FOX program.
- The goal of the program is to increase service capacity by 70 percent over the next four years.
- Car shoppers are snapping up vehicles like the 2014 Subaru Forester and XV Crosstrek, which is why expanding service capacity at dealerships is critical for the brand.
CHERRY HILL, New Jersey — Subaru of America is helping dealers beef up their service departments with its new Fixed Operations Expansion or FOX program.
Added service capacity is critical, since Subaru is experiencing a sales boom here, fueled in part by high demand for the Subaru Forester, which was redesigned in 2013 and the new Subaru XV Crosstrek. Subaru said the two have made "significant contributions" to its strong sales in 2013. The Forester and Outback model lines both achieved over 100,000 units sold for the first time in the company's history, according to its 2013 year-end sales report.
"This is a national story for Subaru, with every Subaru region, zone, and independent distributor setting an all-time sales record for the second year in a row," said Bill Cyphers, senior vice president of sales for Subaru of America, in a statement. "Furthermore, our Sunbelt sales grew by 45 percent for the year. We thank all of our retailers for their continuing dedication and commitment in making these record-breaking sales possible."
The goal of the FOX program is to increase service capacity by 70 percent over the next four years.
Subaru Director of Corporate Communications Michael McHale told Edmunds that the amount of financial support will be "driven by our projection of how much service capacity our retailers will need" over the next several years.
Each dealer will receive an analysis from Subaru showing the expected near-term growth for that location and recommendations for service upgrades. The degree of company funding will then be based on that data, as well as the amount of investment from the dealership itself.
The program is optional, but McHale said the expectation is that 33-40 percent of Subaru dealers will take advantage of the offer. He noted: "The money can be used for lifts, waiting areas, amenities, etc."
The service upgrades and increased capacity will be needed to handle the continued growth in Subaru sales. In 2013, the company experienced its fifth straight record-setting year, with 424,683 units sold versus 336,441 in 2012. Subaru is projecting that sales will reach 460,000 units this year and 500,000 by 2016.
In addition to adding service capacity to match sales growth, Subaru is likely hoping to address the relatively low marks it has received in that area on surveys. The 2013 J.D. Power Dealer Service Ratings showed Subaru near the bottom in Overall Service Satisfaction and in specific key areas, although it did rate slightly higher (three out of five gold dots) in the actual quality of service provided.
Although McHale didn't reveal Subaru's total investment in the FOX program, whatever funding the company allots for service expansion and improvement will surely help boost those ratings and assist dealers in meeting the service challenges that come with increased sales.
Edmunds says: Subaru's emphasis on service improvements should come as good news for current owners and potential buyers.