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AUSTRALIA’S best-known scratch and dent service, Schmick Car Care Club, is rolling out its business model to New Zealand dealers after first setting up in the Shaky Isles in June last year.

The club told GoAutoNews Premium that it was responding to requests from large Australian dealer groups which use Schmick’s scratch and dent operations here in Australia.

Matthew McIntosh, the general manager of the Schmick Car Care Club, said that the Australian dealer groups recognised that they were missing out on the business benefits they got from selling Schmick subscriptions in the Australian market because Schmick was not available in NZ.

Mr McIntosh said that in responding to the requests to help the Australian groups’ NZ affiliates, Schmick Car Care Club has seen firsthand the potential of the New Zealand market and the club saw the potential would mean it could grow the service “really quickly.”

“We currently have 30 dealerships we are working with in NZ. We have another 20 who we will be onboarding early this year,” he said.

“2024 will be the year of expansion. We have quite a number of dealerships that are coming on board now.” 

Matthew McIntosh

“We will be in all major cities in the North Island and South Island. We are in Christchurch and in Auckland at the moment. We are not yet in Wellington, but soon will be.” 

Mr McIntosh said Schmick was about to appoint its second account manager for NZ with a focus both on recruiting more dealers to sell the product and for training. Schmick’s national product manager assists with the training and Schmick’s national operations manager is assisting with the setup of vans and demonstrations. 

He said that training was especially important because the NZ aftermarket sector has significant differences from Australia.

“It’s not like rolling a product into Australia where you have experienced car consultants selling the product. In New Zealand, they don’t; they only have business managers and they are not experienced in selling cosmetic repair at all. So they need a lot of training and we really need to spend some time training and supporting the dealers selling our product,” Mr McIntosh said.

“It is a fantastic product but it relies on high quality training of the consultants so they don’t oversell the service. If customers get the product over-sold to them, they are not happy. But if you tell them exactly what it is and what it does, and the benefits that they get, then you have really satisfied customers.”

Mr McIntosh said that the scratch and dent sector had a reputation in NZ for not supporting the dealers and that the focus on dealer support and training was giving Schmick a competitive edge.

“That’s why we’ve had a fair bit of success so far, so we want to roll this out at a pace where we can train and support the dealers who are doing it.”

Mr McIntosh said that Schmick expected to grow to about six vans performing scratch and dent repairs in NZ.

Footnote: A large number of Australian car dealers are reaping rewards from selling memberships to Schmick’s body repair assist program, run along the lines of car club roadside assist services, which saves members hundreds of dollars at the panel shop and prevents loss of their car for days on end for each minor repair.

Schmick’s Car Care Club program, which has more than 250,000 members and is sold through more than 600 dealerships, repairs minor scratches and dents from a fleet of fully-equipped mobile vans staffed by qualified spray painters who repair members vehicles on site for a low fee that is usually just $50 per repair.

This compares with panel shops which can charge hundreds of dollars and sometimes thousands to fix quite minor damage while claiming on insurance can impact premiums.

Schmick says that body shops and insurance companies are not really geared up to fix such minor damage and, when they do, it means the owners lose their vehicle for days.

For dealers, selling Schmick memberships is appealing because not only does it provide great value for their customers, but the dealership’s retail margin from the sale goes straight to the bottom line. Schmick looks after the servicing costs of each membership over its term.

It also means that trade-ins are cleaner when the cars come back to the dealership to be replaced. These cars need no or low rectification because the owners have had them repaired by Schmick as the damage occurred.

By John Mellor