To summarize last week’s article, many people love how Tesla service works: It has a history of bending over backward for its early customers and it doesn’t try to make money off of its service, but only to break even. Its cars have many fewer moving parts, which add greatly to their long term reliability, and the over the air updates are great for both enhancements and fixing many issues. Tesla Mobile Service and scheduling appointments through the mobile application is more convenient for most customers than bringing their car to the shop to get it fixed. Lastly, Tesla is continually improving the design of its cars to make them more reliable and cheaper to fix.
The video below, by my friend Trevor from the Model 3 Owners club gives you an idea of what mobile service is like. I’ve had mobile service come to my house twice and I greatly prefer it to going to the service center.
For many new customers of Tesla that love the cars, but who weren’t looking for a whole new ownership experience, 3 items can cause them concern.
1. Appointments, whether mobile or at the service center are frequently booked up for weeks in advance.
2. Most third party shops don’t work on or carry parts for Tesla vehicles.
3. Tesla is driving all the customer interaction to the mobile app, which is more efficient, but some customers are more comfortable talking to a person on the phone.
As you can see from the video from 2017, Tesla understands the goal of a simple and convenient service experience. The solutions to these items aren’t complicated, but they aren’t easy either. I’m recommending they hire more people and build or rent more facilities. Tesla needed to manage costs carefully as they were not profitable until recently. They still need to be careful to be as efficient as possible but should spend a little more to protect the reputation of their brand.
In other to solve the problem where you can’t get an appointment for several weeks, they could hire more people, both for their existing service centers and open new ones where their sales are high enough to support a new center. They could hire mobile service technicians and continue to find ways they can perform more services. This is especially important for customers that live a great distance from the nearest service center. Lastly, maybe they could offer a premium option that either lets customers pay extra for an earlier appointment or sign up for a premium service plan for a fixed price for customers that value prompt service more than others.
Third-party shops want to learn to do Tesla service, but much of the information they need to do certain operations is unavailable to them. Tesla could find a way to share some of its technical documents and service information for its most common maintenance and repair issues with technicians that sign up for training and pay an annual fee for the system.
For customers that are more comfortable talking to a service advisor, the before mentioned premium service option could offer local phone support for those customers willing to pay for it.
Another idea I got after reading this article is that Tesla could offer free maintenance for 4 years on their vehicles. Since the vehicles require almost no maintenance, this would have a minimal cost to the company but would help when buyers are comparing their cars to other companies that offer free maintenance for a few years.
Tesla needs to open more service centers and increase staffing at its existing centers and mobile service to support its growth. Tesla hopes to reduce the service needed through innovative design, but until those changes are proven to reduce demand for service, Tesla should err on the side of caution and have a little more service than needed to protect their reputation.
In order for Tesla to allow non-Tesla shops to work on Tesla vehicles, they will need to develop a portal that will let authorized and trained technicians access to some of the technical info and updates that Tesla service has access to. They should publish clear guidelines as to the services they train other shops to perform and services they reserve exclusively for Tesla Service.
Finally, Tesla should offer some kind of concierge service for customers unable or unwilling to navigate the online experience that will meet the needs of many of its customers. This subscription service will pay for itself and allow customers that love cars but don't love the service experience to become happy Tesla customers that rave to their friends about their cars. This service could offer reduced wait times, enhanced phone support, and complimentary maintenance for a reasonable cost.
Addressing these 3 issues will accelerate Tesla's growth as they expand to new markets and expand their market share in existing markets.
Top of Page Image By John Goreham
Paul Fosse is a Software Engineer delivering financial data marts using massively parallel databases (Exadata and GreenPlum) for a major healthcare insurer and a lifelong lover of cars. From the time I saw the 1972 Volkswagen Dasher review in Consumer Reports, I knew the industry would convert to front-wheel drive. Now I am excited to have a front-row seat to the industry's biggest transition in generations, the transition from gas and diesel cars to electric vehicles. I ordered my first EV (Nissan Leaf) in 2010 and now own a 2018 Tesla Long Range Model 3 and have a Cybertruck and a Model Y on order. Contact me on Twitter at Paul Fosse with tips for new stories. Full disclosure, I'm a Tesla Shareholder.
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