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Dealerships routinely lean on their service and parts departments during a recession. The U.S. is not in a recession but that’s exactly what stores are doing.

As a percentage of a dealership’s total gross, profits fell in the new- and used-vehicle departments, but rose in service and parts, an annual study by the National Automobile Dealers Association shows.

The profit gains come after about a third of all U.S. light-vehicle dealerships expanded their service departments by at least one bay in the past 18 months to capture more service revenue, said NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly. And with new- and used-vehicle price competition remaining intense, Szakaly predicted, “Going into a [sales] plateauing year, customer loyalty is going to be very key for dealers.”

That loyalty will come from expanding fixed operations’ revenues, he said.

Some other trends that the study revealed:  Read full article here.

By Jamie, LaReau,