Building Your Fleet

How offering loaner vehicles can help your shop grow

Wednesday, June 7, 2023 | Summer 2023

with Laura Tierney, Sales Manager at ShopLoaner

It’s difficult enough for customers to find time to bring their car into the shop. Add in the inconvenience of being without a vehicle for days at a time, and the task becomes even harder. Offering loaner vehicles to your customers can help ease this inconvenience and may be the reason a customer comes to your shop versus a competitor. However, offering loaner vehicles without proper insurance and liability forms can put your shop at risk if something were to happen while a customer is driving the vehicle.

MWACA sat down with Laura Tierney, national sales manager for ShopLoaner to learn how ShopLoaner can make fleet management easy and help your shop grow.

Why is it important for shops to offer loaner vehicles to their customers?

Tierney: Shops can offer loaner vehicles to entice customers to come to their shop instead of other shops or, more importantly, a car dealership service center. Shops can have a competitive edge against a car dealership service department by offering their own vehicles. Often, once a new vehicle is out of warranty, the car dealership isn't going to offer a loaner anymore and there's no real reason for customers to continue to go to the car dealership to get their vehicle serviced. An independent repair shop offering the vehicle will probably also fix their vehicle at a more reasonable price.

If a shop wants to start offering loaner vehicles, what is the first step they should take?

Tierney: The first thing they need to do is find some cars they want to use. The cars need to be clean, functioning, and safe. If the car meets those requirements, I don't think it matters how old the vehicle is. The second step is to make sure they're registered correctly to their shop or LLC. The third step is to ensure they have insurance on those cars. Then, usually, the insurance company wants to see what kind of rental or loaner agreement the customer will sign, and that's where we come in. We can give them an example of an agreement that they can show their insurance company. We provide the software that's going to help shops have that agreement completed for each drive and organize the agreements.

We have the ability to take pictures of the customer’s driver’s license and insurance card and securely store the customer’s credit card in a merchant account if needed. We give shop owners a free 30-day trial to get this process started. We allow our customers to put their vehicles into the system and start creating agreements. We also offer training and help our customers through this process during the trial.

What are the biggest mistakes you see shops make in managing their own fleet versus using a fleet management software like ShopLoaner?

Tierney: The number one thing that I see shops do that kind of makes me cringe is that they have a neighbor or friend or maybe someone they do not even know, and they just throw them the keys to a loaner. They allow that customer to walk out the door without filling out an agreement. If you don't document which customer is in the car, their insurance policy, and the vehicle information itself — or you have a half-filled-out document — that's not going to protect you if something happens when that person is driving your car. If you do it correctly, that document will protect you.

One of the biggest things that our system emphasizes is having a good document that the customer fills out and signs off on when they're driving a vehicle that doesn't belong to them. We have an agreement built into our system for our customers, and you cannot skip important data fields on that document.

How can offering loaner vehicles help your shop grow?

Tierney: I think it's important for shops to evaluate the customers asking for loaner vehicles as the first step of that process. Shops need to have vehicles ready to offer customers because it will help them secure a sale of a large repair or high-ticket repair order because they have a car that they can offer a customer as a courtesy and a convenience. The customer may pass two or three shops on the way to get to your shop because you're going to be able to put them into a vehicle. That makes the customer happy, giving them a replacement vehicle, and it gets the shop large ticket repairs. By doing this consistently shop owners will see their revenue grow.

Laura Tierney is the national sales manager for ShopLoaner. She loves helping independent repair shops and car dealerships understand how they can better manage all things related to their loaner and or rental fleets. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, four kids and two dogs.