The Concept Of Saab Independents Doing Warranty Work

Posted on 23. Sep, 2009 by in 2000-2009, mechanics

There has been quite an interesting dialogue in the comments field recently about the future of Saab Cars North America.

This dialogue involves the concept of including select independent Saab facilities to do warranty work where there are no Saab dealerships within a range of 100 miles in all directions in the United States. This program actually has been done in the past with a facility in Orange, Connecticut that went up when a local dealership closed, creating an opportunity of which Saab Cars USA at the time accepted and was quite successful.

With the precedent already set for this kind of arrangement, the question now is, how many of these independents due to many factors such as the quality of their facility, the quality of their work, their ability to work on modern Saabs and of course their geographic location would be able to be chosen if such a program came into existence? I am sure that all of the owners of any independent Saab facility would be interested in this idea, but obviously the final choice would not just fall on them.

I encourage you to add your comments into this dialogue below to continue this thread. I’ve taken the previous comments and included them here, so we don’t have to start from scratch on the topic once again. I would like to hear from not only independents and customers, but dealerships as well, to talk about the pluses and/or minuses of this idea.

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No Responses to “The Concept Of Saab Independents Doing Warranty Work”

  1. Ian Glenday

    23. Sep, 2009

    It is really imperative that areas of the US and Canada that no longer have Saab service because of dealer closings or breaking contractual agreements with Saab USA be included in the new plan with a capability to get warranty work done where current customers exist. The dealership I used no longer is with Saab. Their former master tech has set up his own shop locally and lots of his prior customers are now coming to him for service. He is however not authorized to do warranty work by Saab. It is time for Saab Cars of North America to think about customers such as me and many more in the US and Canada who are in limbo and could be dire financial straits if we cannot get warranty work done locally. Saab USA has used SAAB Service only facilities and should continue that practice.

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  2. TOM LETOURNEAU

    23. Sep, 2009

    As a former Saab Field District Parts and then Sales Sanager, before being moved into a Corporate Position as SAAB’s Eastern Region Dealer Development Manager, I can assure the many Saab owners out there that the loss of, and closing of many “So-Called Saab Dealers” is not in any way, shape, manner or form a loss…rather it is probably a blessing in disguise!

    Many of these domestic dealers that obtained the SAAB Franchise didn’t give a real damn about it and/or properly servicing the true SAAB customer, especially the long time ones, as they treated the franchise as a “Bastard Child” and were only concerned with the added gross and cash flow that could be generated!

    Here in America the market (a market) will always find itself and there are many a qualified shop out there, that once they realize the potential of this new found business they will step forward, and address it, which will include the proper and knowledgeable sevicing of the SAAB Product lineup!

    And this will be possible as any and all information that is needed is, today, readily available from the industry’s two major suppliers of repair information…ALLDATA and Mitchell On Demand wherein they both supply independent shops with 100% original factory information….which happens to be required, by law, under the Right to Repair Act!

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  3. Ian Glenday

    23. Sep, 2009

    Tom,

    I agree 100%. My main point is that warranty work be done in a broader realm than authorized dealers. The Service Only facility I was most familiar with was Saab Service of Orange, CT. When Saab of Milford went under, many owners in the local community were out on a limb for warranty work. The former service manager and his staff worked with Saab Cars USA to establish the first Saab Cars Service facility. I for one was glad they took this approach as it saved me lots of travel time going for service. It seems to make sense to have recently released Saab Master Techs (yes they are still out there) return to the Saab fold.

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  4. Gary Hilberer

    23. Sep, 2009

    Thanks for the support Ian. I am the Master SAAB tech who has opened his own facility due to the dealer ending his agreement with SAAB. I have spent the past 14 years as a SAAB tech. I also have 9 years experience as a Service Director for 2 G.M. dealerships. My knowledge of this field more than adequate to open a SAAB only Service facility.

    I myself am an orphan of the closing of our local dealer. Between myself and family we own 7 SAABS. We are 110 miles from the closest dealer in a community who has had a dealer for 14 years!

    To become a SAAB master tech takes some time and isn’t for everyone. This is only one of many requirements needed to have such a facility. The facility is also required to have all essential tools to perform the repairs. The cost of owning every tool needed is quite expensive. The facility needs enough space to stock needed factory parts.. The list goes on.

    As for myself I went out on a limb so to speak when I purchased all of the SAAB essential tools from the dealer whom I was employed. I also inventory genuine SAAB parts.
    I have everything I need to perform warr service and welcome the chance to serve the over 500 customers in our immediate area.

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  5. Russ Cleaton

    23. Sep, 2009

    I’ve been a Saab tech. since 1985. In 1998, I opened my own independent shop. I am more concerned with the new owners plans at this point . It is my hope that they will bring Saab back to where it was before GM. These are unique cars with a very loyal and unique customer base. They should stand alone on the sales floor. The dealership does not have to be a huge facility. The dealers should realize that independent shops actually help their business (we promote what they sell). As for independent shops doing warrantee work, only under certain conditions should this happen (the 100 miles from a dealer is one example). I, for one, enjoy working for myself and I would not like having a service Rep. stop by and enforce company policy on my shop, nor would I want to have COD shipments of special tools, some of which will never be used, shipped to me that would be required to maintain some sort of franchise. In other words, a lot of things would have to change to get my business to perform warrantee work. As to the statement from the article concerning questions about “the quality of their facility, the quality of their work, their ability to work on modern Saabs” our shop and reputation speak for themselves. We have serviced over 4,000 Saab owners cars since opening. Our shop has the capacity and ability to handle as large of a workload as our local dealer on a daily basis. You can check out pics of the quality of our facility at

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  6. peter

    23. Sep, 2009

    The EU countries have a scheme whereby importers (think SCUSA) can appoint service only dealers who are allowed to carry out warranty repairs.

    These dealers must meet the same requirements as full dealers from the point of view of special tools, training, etc.

    They are often in areas that don’t have enough business for a full dealership and many are multi franchise.

    Nearby, I have an ex Fiat dealer who is now an approved service outlet for 5 franchises.

    Peter

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  7. Ryan

    23. Sep, 2009

    Peter, et al,

    This is insightful!

    R

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  8. SandS

    23. Sep, 2009

    We would be open to doing warranty work. We have been servicing SAABS for twenty years. So I certainly think we are capable with some training on newer models.

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  9. John Schreiber

    24. Sep, 2009

    I would like to suggest that those who think they would like to do warranty work, and are currently independent, think seriously about the fact that it may actually be less profitable than the work you are currently doing. Warranty labor times are lower. Parts margins are smaller. You will generally not get paid when you deliver the car, you will need to save the old parts, and deal with warranty audits. New, high tech cars sometimes have warranty issues that will tie up the best techs for days, reducing overall shop productivity.

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  10. M.Zack

    24. Sep, 2009

    If SAAB were smart they would allow independents to do warranty work. Too many Saab dealers are out of business and it leaves the unfortunate Saab owners on their own to trek MILES for service. In Europe, there are LOTS of service only dealers. A concept long overdue in this country.

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  11. mike grieco

    24. Sep, 2009

    i left the dealers 16 plus years ago to open a indepedent saab only shop ,warranty work is not paying the propper time to do the job right its baced on flat rate and not real word time you could keep it i will stick to paying jobs out of warranty also i am a master tech that spent too long at low paying warranty jobs

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  12. Ryan

    24. Sep, 2009

    Great insight everyone!

    I think one huge takeaway I’ve been hearing a lot about here over and over is how the service writers way underestimate the time for just about every job.

    For example, slightly exaggerated, the techs are given 2 minutes to do an oil change which requires 30 minutes. It’s unreasonable and bad for the dealer & possible independent, and bad for the customer because they are getting someone to “rush” the job at their expense.

    Everyone looses. This needs to change with the new Strategy of “winning the customers back” that Knut told us in my interview with him in Frankfurt last week, check it out here.

    http://www.saabhistory.com/2009/09/17/saab-history-interviews-knut-simonsson-saab-automobiles-global-director-of-sales-marketing/

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  13. Robin O;Connor

    24. Sep, 2009

    Hello all its an interesting idea but it has a down side, some of you may be aware that I work for Mitsubishi in the Uk I advisde dealers on warranty issues and process claims, one of the biggest complaints is that the flat rate times are insufficient to carry out the work, in general you do not make any money from warranty work, however it does get people into your garage that may not have visited you previously, this gives you the opportunity to sell them other services, I know a number of Saab specialists in the Uk that could carry out warranty work correctly, there is one specialist I know that regularly resolves problem cars for the main dealer in the same city, Robin

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  14. fred diesel

    25. Sep, 2009

    Ready, willing and able Ryan. Not only do service “franchises” need to be reviewed, but dealerships as well. Here in Chicago, the huge BMW dealer in town also has the Saab franchise at another fair at best location. Most days, youll only be able to leave a message at service or parts…maybe theyll call you back. I cant believe theyre THAT busy. The closest suburban dealers can be 20, 30 miles away. Frankly, in alot of locales youve REALLY got to want a Saab to put up up with the BS of owning one.

    BTW, Ive been fixin Saabs in Chicago since 1978 and Saabservice Above and Beyond is back at its now fourth location/rendition at 1400 W North Av, right next to the Kennedy xway. Its easily the best equiped shop ever, the best location, and my boss, landlord and I are confident we can impress ANY Saab customer. We ALWAYS answer the phone, so thats a start. Thanx for bringing up a subject that “New KSaab” needs to address. Fred

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  15. John Schreiber

    25. Sep, 2009

    Hi Fred!

    Remember, if the dealer could do the job (of servicing cars) properly and for a fair price, our business model would not work.
    Let Walmart, Costco, or IKEA sell the cars., and have service franchises to maintain them. The manufacturer with the best service structure would win. Eventually the most user friendly (from a maintenance standpoint) vehicle would prevail.

    Cars are commodities anyway.

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