Service and parts continue to account for one of every nine dollars in sales at a typical car dealership.
The average U.S. auto dealership rang up $33 million in sales in 2004, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Service and parts represented 11.5 percent of those sales, NADA said.
That percentage includes body repair work.
In 2003, service and parts contributed 11.8 percent of $32.3 million in sales at the average dealership. NADA chief economist Paul Taylor said he expects that figure to rise to 12 percent this year.
Vehicle warranties have gotten longer during the past two years, Mr. Taylor noted, and dealership service departments are attracting more warranty work as a result.
Many dealerships' remodeling plans encourage customers to spend more time in the stores, Mr. Taylor added. Enhanced waiting areas-which include such things as high-speed Internet connections-``help the customer use the time spent at the dealership more productively,'' he said.
More car dealerships are creating dedicated service lanes for quick oil changes and other light maintenance work, he said. They are expanding their displays of aftermarket parts.
Dealerships' parts sales over the Internet also are growing rapidly, Mr. Taylor said.
The percentage of car dealers selling parts to customers on the Internet increased to 41.7 percent in 2003 from 23.6 percent in 2001, NADA reported.
Figures for 2004 were not available.
Frank McElwain, a Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac and Cadillac dealer in Ellwood City, Pa., is doing better than average. He said his dealership's service and parts sales last year accounted for 13.8 percent of its total sales of about $55 million.
Mr. McElwain, a member of General Motors Corp.'s Dealer Fixed Operations Advisory Board, said he wants to boost that figure to 15 percent this year.
He said he's focusing on selling more accessories, such as truck wheels and tires. Mr. McElwain also seeks to provide quick service for customers without appointments.
He keeps his service department open two nights a week and on Saturday. The weekend hours attract customers who haven't bought vehicles from him, he said.
``We'll continue the late hours,'' Mr. McElwain said. ``We're going to stress selling skills with the service advisers, which GM has a very good program for.''
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An important chunk of change
At the average car dealership, service and parts sales represented:
* 11.8% of total sales in 2003
* 11.5% of total sales in 2004
* 12.9% of total sales in January and February 2005
Source: National Automobile Dealers Association