The ZF Services [pro]Tech workshop concept can look back on three successful years. [pro]Tech has already convinced over 4 600 partners in the D-A-CH markets since April 2012. One reason for the success is closely aligning the portfolio to market developments: A high-voltage training course, for instance, was offered early on in order to tap into the fast-growing number of vehicles with electric drive components as potential for independent workshops, too. For those workshops that are not yet taking part in [pro]Tech, ZF Services sees 2015 as the ideal time to join.
Six years ago, the government-funded scrappage incentive caused the private new registration market to double in Germany. Instead of the 1.2 million buyers in 2008, more than 2.4 million customers opted for a new vehicle in 2009 (cf. Federal Motor Transport Authority). Meanwhile, these vehicles constitute enormous potential for independent workshops:
- Six to seven-year-old vehicles are the most frequently maintained of all vehicles (0.98 maintenance visits/year)(cf. DAT Report, p. 64).
- Independent workshops account for 31 percent of maintenance work; the percentage for authorized workshops falls as the vehicle gets older (cf. DAT report, p. 65).
- Parts such as brakes or shock absorbers should be checked and replaced where necessary every 60 000 kilometers (with a mileage of 11 000 km/year).
Subcompact and compact vehicles tended to be the most popular options bought in 2009. Dr. Ulrich Walz, member of the ZF Services Board of Directors responsible for Market: “The budget-oriented drivers in these segments are an ideal target group for independent workshops. The fact that such a large number of vehicles are now reaching an age where branded workshops are losing market shares opens up additional potential – particularly if you can rely on a workshop concept like ZF Services [pro]Tech.”
[pro]Tech allows independent workshops to become more efficient with their workshop workflows, as well as coming across as more professional vis-à-vis their customers.
Substantial value added for independent workshops
The workshop concept introduced in April 2012 now has over 4 600 partners in the countries within the D-A-CH region. “What makes [pro]Tech so special is the diversity of our training courses,” explains Markus Schmitt, Head of Workshop Concepts at ZF Services. “We have increased the number of two-day practical training courses this year to 55 dates. They are held close to our partners in the regions in each case and provide not only a holistic analysis of the driveline, chassis, and steering system, but also the opportunity to share knowledge with other specialists and extend one's own network.
The lineup also includes a training course for automatic transmissions for passenger cars. This module teaches participants how a ZF automatic transmission is put together, highlights causes of shifting problems, explains how to use diagnostic testers to best effect, and what to look out for when changing the transmission oil. The latter is particularly interesting since vehicles with 150 000 plus kilometers on the clock are far from an exception nowadays. Particularly with vehicles with high mileages, a transmission oil change is recommended to prevent consequential damage – even though it is often not specified by the manufacturer.
One particular feature of the ZF Services workshop concept is the early integration of the very latest trends from the passenger car market. Thus, ZF Services [pro]Tech was one of the first providers of high-voltage training courses and is increasingly broadening its portfolio. And with good reason given that the number of hybrid vehicles has almost doubled since 2012, while the number of all-electric vehicles has even tripled over the same period (cf. Federal Motor Transport Authority). Vehicles with electric drive components also become an interesting proposition for independent workshops as these vehicles get older – [pro]Tech partners are perfectly prepared to take advantage of this situation. The three-hour high-voltage training module – included in the ZF Services [pro]Tech plus start-up event – gives all participants an EuP certificate (certificate for persons instructed in electrical engineering).
Workshops have to be familiar with increasingly complex automotive technology so they can keep pace with automotive manufacturers and independent service providers in the fiercely competitive service market. This calls for more and more, increasingly detailed knowledge.
As needed: ZF Services [pro]Tech and ZF Services [pro]Tech plus
Even the [pro]Tech basic package provides a comprehensive service package for independent workshops: For a one-time fee of EUR 150 for new customers, dealerships receive access to vehicle-specific installation instructions for products such as clutches, shock absorbers, chassis parts, and steering components. It also includes access to the online WebCat parts catalog. The portfolio is supplemented with an installation and product telephone hotline, a helpline via e-mail, and an option for ordering advertising material. The training modules together with database access to vehicle manufacturer service campaigns can be booked separately at an additional cost.
These service packages are already included in ZF Services [pro]Tech plus at no extra cost – for an initial fee of EUR 100 and an annual system fee of EUR 400. On top of this, there are the vehicle manufacturer service campaigns and the personal on-site support provided by regional field service personnel from ZF Services. Attendance at a two-day ZF Services [pro]Tech plus start-up event is obligatory. The events are held at one of the German ZF locations so that informative insights into the production and development processes can also be offered on-site.
The ZF Services [pro]Tech workshop concept is not restricted to the passenger car sector. Particularly for commercial vehicle workshops, ZF Services offers [pro]Tech practical training courses covering transmissions, suspension components and 4-point links. The two-day basic training course is aimed at commercial vehicle specialists, which work predominantly with trucks, vans, construction machinery, and buses.