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Dealers shifting their focus from sales to service Accountants helping companies find way to move relationships from showrooms to garages

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The Mironov Group has a large auto dealership practice, and besides dispensing tax and accounting advice, “we help auto dealers solve problems inside their operations,” said George E. Berry Jr., a partner in the Edison accounting firm, which has 375 dealership clients, 300 of whom are in New Jersey.

For example, Mironov has on staff a veteran automotive service department director who helps clients tackle their service department problems; Mironov also has staff experts on warranty claims and parts department issues.

Berry said dealerships are motivated to improve their operations because auto manufacturers are under constant pressure to improve their customer satisfaction performance.

"The manufacturers measure customer satisfaction in the service department, as well as the whole dealership experience," Berry said. "So we are very tuned in to how the dealership treats customers and stays connected to customers." Mironov also helps dealerships figure out how "to be more productive in their service department and make sure their technicians are busy."

Berry said the dealership's gross profit on the sale of a new car has been declining for the past 20 years, as a greater emphasis is put on service and parts. He estimates that of the typical dealership's revenue, 40 percent comes from the sale of new cars; 20 percent, used cars; 25 percent, service; and 15 percent, parts.

Jessica Barish, who owns Route 23 Honda in the Pompton Plains section of Pequannock, said Mironov provided invaluable help last summer when she acquired Route 46 Chevrolet, in Hackettstown. Barish said Mironov's Christine Andrews "has specialized knowledge about how to set up a dealership, and she was able to do what it might require a whole team of people to do."

She said Andrews also works with her to manage the complexities of day-to-day automotive accounting, which requires extensive reporting to the government, vehicle manufacturers and banks.

"There are not that many people who can keep track of it — there are so many moving pieces," Barish said.

E-mail to: beth@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @bethfitzgerald8

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