In the wake of its successful three-year run as a service provider to the island’s BMW and Mini Cooper vehicle owners, Autogermana BMW is considering opening two more similar operations to serve the southern and western regions, Miguel Cruz, director of parts and services for the company.
Autogermana invested some $15 millions to open its first local service operation in Guaynabo in 2008, with facilities to take in between 90 and 95 vehicles a day. The facility houses 50 service bays and employs 35 certified technicians, he said.
While owners who live and work in the San Juan metropolitan area bring in most of the vehicles, Cruz noted there is “room for growth” in other parts of the island.
“There ‘s high demand in the south and in the west, which is where we have been thinking about establishing service operations. We’ve concentrated our efforts in achieving consistency in our response and service in Guaynabo, before considering that,” he said.
“However, expanding is something we could do in the near future. If Autogermana continues moving forward at the pace it has had, and with the financial health we have achieved in the last year, that expansion could be considered even quicker,” he said.
Autogermana’s Guaynabo facilities have made it a point to incorporate the most advanced technology to respond to the needs of the BMW and Mini Cooper models.
“BMW offers high technology and constant innovation for all of its models, and that same philosophy applies to the group of technicians who constantly update their training and experience with 20 to 40 hours of formal and practical annual training at BMW’s stateside headquarters,” Cruz said.
Services offered at the Guaynabo service center include simple oil changes, tire alignment or changes, and brake work that can usually be turned around the same day. If the required work is more complicated or one that will likely take several days, Autogermana has several “loaner” units to help out stranded clients.
“That in a sense is one of the challenges we face, because not having a car in Puerto Rico is a serious problem, which is why we’re concentrating our efforts on ways to offer the most convenience not only in what distinguishes our products but on responding quickly to customer needs of a fast turnaround time,” he said, noting that for the past year, customer surveys have reflected positive feedback to the company’s service offer.
BMW is selling an average of 80 to 100 units and between 30 and 40 Mini Cooper models per month. Considering the island’s difficult, and protracted economic scenario, Cruz said the sales are “reasonable.”
“The market is probably 20 percent below what it was in 2006, before the recession started,” Cruz said. “However, we expect to sell 1,000 BMW vehicles this year, and we’re on track to achieve that.”