By Kurt Batdorf HBJ Editor
EVERETT — Klein Honda is remodeling its service department for the second time in two years to get customers in and out of the dealership with less waiting.
Come April 6, when work is scheduled to be complete, customers will see the biggest change as they pick a lane for regular service or express service and drive through the Rytec high-speed garage doors and park on a polished concrete floor under infrared natural gas heaters. Both lanes will have racks that will let technicians quickly check a vehicle’s alignment and scan each vehicle’s onboard computer for any diagnostic fault codes. The express service lane will have two lifts that will let technicians get under the car to perform oil changes and other services that typically take 30 minutes or less, service manager Ryan Holmes explained.
Each Klein Honda service customer also gets a personalized multipoint vehicle inspection that shows maintenance needs, explains why the repair should be done, and how much the work will cost, he said.
Klein Honda owner Steve Klein credited his son, Rory, and Holmes for the foresight to expand the service department.
Holmes said when Klein Honda adopted its “no appointment necessary” philosophy, it attracted about 800 more customers each month, bringing in 2,200 to 2,400 per month.
“We didn’t expect that much business,” he said.
Klein Honda is the only Honda dealer in the Seattle metropolitan area to post an increase on the service side of its business — up 30 percent, Holmes said. He shops his service competitors and posts their prices for routine maintenance and major repairs. Klein Honda’s posted prices met or beat the competition in most cases.
With the growing customer base and the busier service department, Klein Honda hired five new workers to keep up the pace in 2011 and seven more in 2012, said Tom Hunt, dealership general manager. Total full-time-equivalent employment at the dealership stands at 95.5.
The service department’s first remodel two years ago cost $400,000, Steve Klein said.
“It paid off for customer convenience,” he said. “If you want to be successful, you have to reinvest in your business.”
That led to the current remodel to further streamline the customer service experience, which will cost $500,000. Klein and Holmes said all companies that are working on the project are local, including Gaffney Construction and Botesch, Nash &Hall Architects, both of Everett.
The new express service lane will feature two adviser kiosks and an attached customer waiting room, restroom and baby changing room, Klein and Holmes explained on a tour of the expanded service area. The service department’s three current express lube lifts in a detached building will still be used, providing five lifts for quick services.
“We get customers in and out quickly and we’re priced better than Jiffy Lube,” Hunt said.
Klein earns environmental award
Klein Honda has earned the Honda Environmental Leadership Award and has been recognized by American Honda Motor Co. as a leader in the company’s effort to reduce the environmental impact of Honda dealerships in communities around the nation. Klein Honda was among the first Honda automobile dealers to receive the award.
Klein Honda earned the award for achieving specific environmental targets, which include reducing total energy use at the dealership by at least 10 percent, developing a water conservation plan and implementing Honda’s recycling program.
Klein Honda has taken numerous steps to reduce its environmental impact and to earn the Honda Environmental Leadership Award, including vast water conservation and recycling efforts.
Honda introduced its new voluntary “green dealer” program to its U.S. dealers in the fall of 2011. The company uses a third-party evaluator to conduct environmental audits of participating dealers and recommend strategies for reducing their energy use.
Kurt Batdorf: 425-339-3102; email@example.com.