Promoted | Volkswagen: making van servicing easy
If your van is the cornerstone of your business, keeping it on the road and reliable is key. That’s why Volkswagen has made servicing simple and hassle-free...
Update (25th March 2020): As a result of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is following the latest government advice to maintain the health and safety of both its Van Centre teams and its customers, while continuing to support the hard-working businesses delivering vital services to their communities.
Taking a vehicle for its annual service is never something to relish – especially if you’re a van driver. After all, every hour a commercial vehicle spends off the road is an hour in which it’s not earning you money.
Vans are driven far further and worked considerably harder than other vehicles, though, and that means proper regular maintenance is the key to keeping them reliable and delivering the goods for your business.
Skipping an annual service will likely create bigger problems down the road, and while it’s tempting to pick a supposedly cheaper independent over a manufacturer service, skimping on costs can be a false economy. The time taken for the annual service is actually valuable and worth investing in.
As part of its ‘Working With You’ commitment, Volkswagen has placed a significant focus on taking the pain and inconvenience out of commercial vehicle servicing. So, we visited Marshall Volkswagen Van Centre in Reading in order to find out the difference a Volkswagen van service makes.
Keeping things simple and convenient
Volkswagen has 68 Van Centres (and 28 Authorised Repairers) around the UK, so you’re never more than 45 minutes away from one. Equally, extended opening hours in the morning and evening – with the ability to pre-arrange drop-off times – can be a boon for busy drivers, eager to get their vehicle booked in and get on with their day.
“There’s never a great time for a van to be off the road,” says Service Manager, Kieron Eaton. “We appreciate that servicing can be an inconvenience for any business – especially sole traders and small firms who drive their own vans. After all, a van is a working vehicle that’s earning you money. That’s why we focus on making servicing as simple and flexible as possible.”
Inside Marshall’s Reading Van Centre, the reception desks back onto a bright white vehicle inspection bay with a raft of high-tech diagnostic equipment. The glass frontage lets drivers watch the MOT process from the comfort of the Van Centre, with a cup of coffee and Wi-Fi access on while-you-wait appointments.
But, if you can’t spare the time to wait for your van to be serviced – or if your van needs to spend additional time in the Van Centre – Volkswagen can help keep you on the move with loan and hire vehicles to suit both your needs, and the time your vehicle will be spending in the workshop.
Service plans to suit your needs
As you’d expect with a Van Centre on the apex of the M25 and M4, Marshall Volkswagen has a broad mix of customers – ranging from sole-traders who drive their own vehicles, to large corporate fleets with high-mileage vehicles, as well as private-use customers with an Amarok, Caravelle or California camper van.
Volkswagen offers a wide selection of service plans to fit each of these needs and budgets – from simple pay-on-demand, through popular Upfront Fixed Price Servicing packages that are just like service plans for passenger cars, to Monthly Fixed Cost Maintenance that helps small businesses manage costs month to month.
For large corporate fleets, there’s the option to build a more bespoke service plan, tapping into the full breadth of Volkswagen’s 68-strong Van Centre network. “Fleet vans tend to spend more time on the road with high mileage, so they always need maintenance of wear and tear items when they come in,” says Kieron. “But fleet customers know that’s part of the vehicle’s lifecycle and like to plan for it.”
“Each customer is different. Some just want to drop their vehicle off and get it turned around in a timely manner; others want a chat and a more personal experience. Whoever they are, it’s about making the process as simple and easy as possible – listening to and understanding their unique needs, not over-complicating things, and ensuring the constant quality and attention to detail you expect from Volkswagen.”
Making time on the ramp count
Even at this early hour, Marshall Volkswagen’s service bays are a hive of activity. Volkswagen’s central vehicle database means any Van Centre technician in the UK can quickly see a van’s history. “Our technicians can instantly see the vehicle’s background, what it’s used for, and work that’s previously been done on it,” says Kieron. “That means we can diagnose problems faster. We also get a lot of vehicles coming in for regular services, and customers get to know our technicians on a first-name basis. That means we know the vehicles first-hand.”
Every service starts with a visual and electronic health check – the Van Centre technicians giving each vehicle a thorough inspection to quickly identify any additional work that may need to be done. This is all outlined on a checklist report, with clear colour coding to indicate areas of concern – amber for advisory work that can be scheduled for a later date; red for items that need immediate attention as they’re either dangerous on the road now or won’t last to the next service.
The Van Centre technicians also provide customers with a video that lets them see areas of concern, without having to duck their head under the vehicle themselves. “We don’t want customers to feel like things happen behind closed doors,” says Kieron. “The fact customers can see the problem on the video means there’s no mystery. Everything we do is about being open and transparent.”
Customers are then notified about additional work that may need doing beyond the service, letting them choose whether to tackle it there and then. “We get customers who drop the vehicle off and say: ‘Just do whatever needs to be done’,” says Kieron. “But, with respect, we’ll never do anything without the full authorisation of the customer. We have a duty of care, as well as making it easy for the customer.”
In the case of large fleets, where costs and maintenance are controlled centrally, Volkswagen’s internal fleet system mean these decisions can be made in minutes, helping to get drivers and their vehicles back on the road as soon as possible.
Adding the personal touch
As we head back from the service bays, we walk through a large storage room with a wealth of common spares – all Volkswagen Genuine Parts designed specifically to keep Volkswagen vans operating at their best and most efficient, while also boasting a confidence-inspiring Volkswagen two-year warranty.
In addition, Van Centres can help you give your vehicle the personal touch, with an extensive range of Volkswagen-approved add-on accessories – all designed to fit and work perfectly with your vehicle, with a two-year warranty. These can also be installed quickly and easily by Volkswagen’s expert Van Centre technicians.
So, whether it’s for style, work or play, there’s no end to the ways in which you can customise your van ¬– ranging from Sportline body kits and alloys, through waterproof seat covers and mats for hard-working vehicle cabs, to plylining and racking for the rear load bay that help you keep your tools organised in style.
“It’s one thing to have the Volkswagen badge on the front of the van, but customers want their vehicle to have that added ‘wow’ factor that helps them stand out,” says Kieron. “Equally, a lot of van drivers choose a pick-up or kombi that they can use for their family car, or as a lifestyle vehicle for sport and hobbies at the weekend. It may be a work vehicle, but they want it to work hard and to look good. It’s always nice to see someone take pride in their vehicle.”
Why the Volkswagen difference matters
So, what is the difference with a Volkswagen service? Well, according to Kieron, the word ‘service’ – and its double-meaning – is key. “It is all about the personal service and attention to detail we provide to a customer,” he says. “Every customer is an individual to us, and we have a duty of care to them and their vehicle.
“It’s the investment we make in our technicians and facilities to have the most up-to-date equipment, information and Volkswagen-specific product knowledge, ensuring real quality and attention to detail. Plus, we know that every second a customer’s van is off the road, it’s not earning them money. Any time that a vehicle spends in our service bays and on the ramp should be productive.
“That’s why we put a lot of focus into listening to customers, understanding their personal needs and providing a service that is honest and fair. Life is stressful enough, without having to worry about what’s happening with your van.”
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