Established in 1919, Hartwell Automotive Group is one of the UK’s leading dealer groups representing Ford cars and commercial vehicles. Hartwell currently operates 11 sites across Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire, Herefordshire and Bedfordshire, each featuring modern workshop and aftersales facilities that carry out servicing, repairs and MOTs for Ford’s extensive vehicle line-up.
With hundreds of thousands of cars on British roads wearing the Blue Oval, Ford dealers are some of the busiest in the country, and Hartwell is no exception. With up to 27 aftersales appointments a day at most sites, footfall is high, particularly during the peak periods of early morning and late afternoon when customers arrive to drop-off and collect their vehicles.
As is often the case during these periods, queues can quickly form, with service advisers under pressure to process each booking to the same high standard as during the quieter periods.
To improve the overall customer experience and ensure a speedy check-in and check-out process for both customers and staff, Hartwell turned to Tjekvik, the leading developer of digital self-service solutions for dealer aftersales. Over a three-month period in late 2022, all of Hartwell’s dealers adopted Tjekvik’s technologies.
These new Tjekvik systems enable customers to check their vehicles in at a time and place convenient for them, either at home using Tjekvik’s mobile-optimised site, or at the dealer via easy-to-use touchscreen kiosks. Instead of waiting for service advisers to become available, customers can use Tjekvik’s solutions to provide pre-service instructions, select added-value items, sign their authorisation and securely drop-off their keys within dedicated lockers built securely into the kiosks.
Once the digital self-service solutions were integrated with Hartwell’s Gemini Systems dealer management system (DMS), Tjekvik continued to work closely with the dealer group to optimise customer use and ensure staff are benefitting fully from the technology.
Customers are first informed about digital check-in at the time they make their booking, with a booking confirmation email and a pre-visit email or SMS providing further information. When they arrive on-site, stickers and banners help to direct customers to the kiosks, while service advisors and Customer Experience Executives at branches including Kidlington, Abingdon and Watford provide additional support during peak periods; particularly useful for those who are unfamiliar with using such systems. Some sites have also changed their service reception layout to optimise digital check-in procedures and encourage more usage.
When it comes to vehicle check-out, Hartwell staff proactively send customers a payment link, followed up with a phone call to ensure a seamless vehicle collection process that can then be carried out on arrival via the kiosks. Hartwell conducted surveys that highlighted that 90% of customers that used Tjekvik’s digital self-service systems were happy with the experience.
For staff, initial training was carried out to ensure they understood the digital check-in and check-out processes, how they could help and encourage customers to use the technology, and how they could optimise the self-service solutions to meet business targets. Weekly meetings are carried out to review overall performance, with management teams from each site reviewing data obtained from the systems.
Neil Collie, Group Service Manager at Hartwell Automotive Group, said: “We set out to transform our aftersales departments to ensure our customers could benefit from the very latest digital self-service solutions for the best user experience. Right from the off, we engaged our staff to appreciate the benefits digital check-in could bring, and adoption has been very high across our network. We will continue to monitor its usage across the group and keep evolving our processes for consistency and effectiveness.”
More customers than ever are choosing to check in across the Hartwell dealer network using Tjekvik’s technologies. A total of 6,674 customers used Home Check-in between January and May 2023, a 54% monthly average, with customers at Hartwell Banbury being the most prolific users (70%). Kiosk Check-in has proved to be even more successful, with 13,497 customers choosing to leave their keys at the kiosk rather than with a service advisor over the same period. Along with a 90% monthly average across the group, Hartwell Hemel Hempstead saw the highest utilisation, reaching 100% at one point. A total of 7,290 customers used the kiosks to check out resulting in a 49% monthly average, with Hartwell Oxford being the best performer at 96%.
As well as improving customer service and helping service advisors focus on those customers that most need attention and support, Tjekvik’s solutions have enabled Hartwell to increase revenues by upselling products and services during digital check-in.
100% kiosk check-in at Hemel Hempstead
96% kiosk check-out in Oxford
£33,000 in added value
A total of 851 customers purchased additional products or services between January and May when prompted by Tjekvik’s systems, raising over £33,000 in additional revenue across the group. Hartwell Dunstable raised the most during this period, earning more than £4,300 in additional revenue. The most popular traditional products sold were for service plans, with over 900 customers signing up. The next most popular products were for wiper blades and replacement key-fob batteries.
As customers bring in their cars for maintenance, many use the time to browse the latest models in the showroom or on the forecourt. A significant number of customers are using the digital check-in process to find out the value of their existing car, with over 1,300 customers requesting a vehicle valuation between January and May. Hartwell Dunstable provided its customers with 177 vehicle valuations, the highest across the group. By easily enabling a valuation during the digital check-in process, the retail side of Hartwell’s business can begin open dialogue with customers without it appearing as a hard sell; a preferable solution for many.
Following the successful roll-out, Hartwell is considering adding to its digital self-service functionality by integrating Tjekvik’s solutions into the Hartwell customer app. The company is also considering adopting Tjekvik’s new Outdoor kiosks, some of which could be located at high footfall locations such as airports and mainline railway stations for customer convenience, particularly outside typical workshop opening hours.
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