Building best practice automotive after sales network: The Volkswagen case

Gerlinde Mikolik

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis aims to analyze the service operations and networks in the automotive industry as research into the automotive After Sales service network lacks the necessary fine details and industrial feedback. Its purpose is to present the insights and lessons learned from studying the After Sales service network of Volkswagen, thereby defining a roadmap for further research, and to discuss the needs of the sector. The foremost idea in defining the research question was based on the observation that the automotive After Sales business could be improved by applying and adapting principles and methods used in other industries and in the field of Business Operations research.
The initial step thereafter was an extensive external and internal literature research. The key characteristics of the automotive industry in Germany, at the VW Group, at OEMs and at the wholesale level were identified and are described in chapter two. In chapter three the primary After Sales processes are described and analyzed, from the interaction with the customer to the necessary activities at wholesale and OEM level.
The proposed research methodology relied on extensive external and internal research and a qualitative and quantitative approach based on structured, in-depth interviews and direct observation. The objective of the interviews was to highlight the most important activities in the service delivery operations within the network and identify the major key factors for success or failure. The best practice dealer model is described in chapter five and was subsequently abstracted and generalized so that it can be applied to other industries too.
A Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), described in chapter six, was undertaken to determine the “efficient frontier” of service operations. Key performance indicators were identified from the important elements discussed and the best practices. In order to achieve an in-depth understanding of their general business models a benchmark analysis of six companies from industrial sectors complementary to the automotive business was then carried out and is described in chapter seven. The thesis highlights the development of a “best practice” network in chapter eight. This network grasps the dynamics of After Sales activities in the light of new technological developments and the experience gained from the benchmark with other industries. The thesis closes with an evaluation of the research work.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
  • Ashayeri, Jalal, Promotor
  • Brekelmans, Ruud, Co-promotor
Award date22 Feb 2017
Place of PublicationTilburg
Print ISBNs978 90 5668 505 8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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