Posts tagged with "Childcare"

Car dealerships offer manicures and movies to draw in maintenance customers

June 17, 2019

Most people who bring a car into the dealership for a tune-up or a repair come prepared with a book or a laptop, a cup of upscale coffee or tea, a smartphone, and as much patience as they possibly can muster.

Progress reports are few and far between, asking plaintive questions at the intake area of the auto service department is frowned upon, and the hours stretch ahead—time you will never get back, but will pay for (in big bucks, for labor and parts).

And the waiting rooms, themselves? They tend to be forlorn places, with cable news on a glitchy TV and last year’s copy of Newsweek, if you’re lucky.

But now, all that is changing, The New York Times reports. Today, you can get blackened chicken or grilled salmon on the lunch menu at Honda of Fort Worth, or a complimentary workout at the fitness center attached to the Lincoln-Mercury/Land Rover-Jaguar store in Merritt Island, Florida, the news outlet informs us—assuming you wouldn’t rather play pool or watch a movie.

This amenity-laden shift can be traced straight to dealers’ bottom lines. Vehicle sales may be down this year, but service revenues continue to be reliable—and promise to grow, if dealers can make vehicle maintenance a more engaging experience.

Already, at the end of 2018, half a typical dealer’s gross profits came from the service department, according to Patrick Manzi, senior economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association.

 “Service and parts are very important to dealerships right now,” Mr. Manzi told the Times. “Cars are selling on the internet, and there’s more competition and more access to vehicle prices than ever before. Margins from selling new cars have been consistently on the decline, so dealers are focusing on service. They’ve realized they can help grow customer loyalty by standing out in the amenities.”

According to the Times report, Lexus might be the pacesetter in this cushy new world— and women are being specially targeted and pampered, with beauty services and childcare.

“In one of our stores in San Antonio, Texas, we have a free coffee bar with snacks, a manicurist and a masseuse,” Kimberly Sherron, the dealer facilities manager and design leader at Lexus, told the news outlet “In Wichita, Kansas, you can drop your vehicle off at the service department, get taken to the airport and then picked up when you come back. In the Tampa area, we have a store that features a manned barista bar, with free macchiatos, croissants, and sandwiches.”

Ms. Sherron added, “They go above and beyond.”

That may be understatement, but this new twist on the waiting room is not just for luxury brands like Lexus. A range of dealerships have been adding amenities.

Toyota— a notch downscale from the same Japanese company—has a play area for children in its Chesapeake, Virginia dealership, as well as (can you believe it?) a movie theater, a hair salon and a shoeshine area. On Wednesdays, it provides free manicures.

What’s more, the Times reports, automakers also are supporting their brands with “experience centers” that are even more over the top. At Intersect by Lexus—dubbed “An Immersive Cultural Space”—in Manhattan, which opened last fall after similar centers in Dubai and Tokyo, there’s an auto parts wall installation, fine dining with rotating chefs (currently, one cooking avant-garde tapas from Chile), a circular bar featuring the same leather used on Lexus car seats, and a third-floor exhibition space.

“It’s an homage to the cars,” Kirk Edmondson, the general manager, told the newspaper. “We reference the brand’s legacy of hospitality, design and craftsmanship — but we don’t scream about it.”

Research contact: @nytimes

‘Daddy time’ is not as limited as it used to be

January 9, 2018

Today, U.S. fathers are giving their children nearly three times more attention than they did a half-century ago: seven hours a week now, compared to 2.5 hours a week in 1965. However, most (63%) of dads still say they are spending too little time with the kids, based on results of a Pew Research survey released on January 8.

A much smaller share (36%) say they spend the right amount of time with their progeny, the survey of 4,573 American adults nationwide determined.

Moms, by comparison, still do “the heavy lifting” when it comes to childcare and are more likely than dads to say they are satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their kids. About half (53%) say this, while only 35% say they spend too little time with their kids, according to the research results.

Fathers without a bachelor’s degree are particularly likely to say they spend too little time with their kids. About 70% of dads with some college or less education say this is the case, compared with half of dads with at least a bachelor’s degree–perhaps because those with a degree are spending more time at work.

Education is not a factor when it comes to the share of mothers who say they spend too little time with their children, but employment status is: 43% of full-time working moms say they don’t spend enough time with their kids, compared with 28% of moms who work part-time or who are not employed.

For both dads and moms who say they spend too little time with their kids, work obligations are cited most often as the main reason: 62% of dads and 54% of moms indicate that this is the case.

A major exception? A sizable share of fathers (20%) say that the main reason they spend too little time with their children is that they don’t live with them full-time.

These findings come as about one-in-four fathers of children 17 or younger (24%) are living apart from at least one of their children, and 17% are living apart from all of them, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the National Survey of Family Growth.

Interestingly enough, about  half of black fathers (47%) are living apart from at least one of their children age 17 or younger, and 36% are living apart from all of their children. Far lower shares of Hispanic (26%) and white (17%) fathers are living apart from one or more of their children.

Research contact:

Good U.S. childcare is hard to find

January 2, 2018

Two-thirds of U.S. parents with young children say it is hard to find a childcare or preschool facility that meets their health and safety standards, according to survey results reported on November 20 by HealthDay News, a division of U.S. News & World Report.

Researchers questioned more than 300 parents nationwide who had at least one child below the age of six. Sixty-two percent said they had trouble finding facilities that met all of their standards, according to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

In addition, only about half felt “very confident” that they could determine if a facility were safe and healthy. This is key, because concern about safety was the main reason parents cited for rejecting a facility. For example, about 70% of parents said they would not leave their child in a school or center in a “sketchy” area. More than half said they would reject a place with guns on the premises, and 48% said the presence of other adults (not including staff) was unacceptable.

The poll also found that nine in 10 parents think childcare centers and in-home childcare providers should have the same health and safety standards.

“Parents want to feel confident that all childcare and preschool options meet certain standards,” poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a university news release. “Parents could then choose their preferred childcare option without compromising their child’s health and safety.”

Health was another major concern. About 40% of parents said they would not leave their children at a childcare site that permitted unvaccinated children to attend. And 30 percent would not place their child in a home or facility where there was a smoker.

“Our poll demonstrates the challenge of choosing a preschool or childcare setting that meets all of a parent’s criteria. Safety and health factors are important to parents, but too often, parents aren’t sure how to determine if a childcare option is safe and healthy,” Clark said.

She suggested taking extra steps to assess childcare or preschool facilities. These might include drop-in visits to observe safety features. Look to see how close a playground is to traffic or entrance security, for example.

Also, check websites for health-related policies like vaccination requirements for children and staff, background checks, and security policies.

Ask about other safety aspects, such as whether a gun is stored in the facility or whether other adults will be on-site while children are there, she added.

“Some health-related characteristics are observable while others, such as how often toys are cleaned, are not as obvious,” Clark said. “The more research parents do ahead of time, the more confident they will feel that their children are in a safe and healthy environment.”

Research contact: @csmottpoll