Dealership Service Department Efficiency & Productivity
Here we are in the middle of another exciting football season. Some teams can’t seem to do anything wrong, some can’t do anything right. And then, there are all the teams in- between. Regardless of how the teams are faring, they all resort to Monday-morning-quarterbacking. The key distinction is that the winning teams make good on their findings. They just don’t talk about what they should have done or would do if they had it to do over. They do it. They move players up and down. They hire new players and release others. The hard decisions are made to move the team forward, win games, and keep their jobs.
I like Monday-morning-quarterbacking. I think it is healthy, but only if you move on your findings. I think it is something every business should do at least once a week. Not once a year at the annual review, not semi-annually or even monthly. Weekly reviews are what have always worked for me, especially when it concerns coworkers who are on the front line handling customers and their issues. Employees are either executing as expected or they are not. It’s like so many football coaches have said over the years, you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem.
When I Monday-morning-quarterback, I use a simple formula that has served me well. I have shared it with many service mangers, general managers, and dealer principles, and almost all have used it successfully. So here it is:
1. Did you hire the right person for the job? The first question to ask yourself is, did you hire the right person for the position you are analyzing? All too often, I see new service advisors that are not a good fit for the position, based on their productivity. If you have a system in place that has delivered the numbers you seek in all areas and you bring on someone new, they should be able to perform at a level that allows them to hit at least your minimum standards in each area. Look at the New England Patriots. Nearly every player that is added to the team produces at the highest level, whether they are a rookie or a ten-year veteran. Why? Because the process for success is already well established within that organization. Each new player either succeeds at a high level or they don’t. If they don’t, they are cut. It should be the same with your front line people. If you have a system that is working and you bring in a new advisor, they should be able to at least hit your minimum standards within ninety days. If they don’t, they never will, and you will probably be best served to cut them.
2. Is the performance consistent? Assuming you have a successful system in place and you have hired the right person, the next thing you need to review is each person’s ability to be consistent with their performance. Every sales organization is likely to have a top service advisor. The top service advisor is the person you can count on and bank on, month after month, in all areas. The rest of your staff should be measured against your top service advisor. When they post their numbers, they are demonstrating that at least the posted level of success is possible. At that point it no longer becomes a question of, can it be done? It becomes a question of, how many people can you find, train, coach, and lead to produce those same results? The ideal situation would be to have your worst performer being within ten percent of your best salesperson’s numbers. Those who can maintain at least that should remain on your team, those who can’t, need to be moved to the bench.
3. Everybody has a bad week. Keep in mind that only one NFL team has ever delivered the perfect season. Your advisors will have a bad week or month from time to time. Life happens. For example, illness, family problems, or moving, will cause distractions. That is normal and to be expected. What is not okay is when a team member’s performance drops off permanently to unacceptable levels. What is not okay is to accept poor performance because of an employee’s number of years with the company, the fact that they are likeable, or that you are friends with them outside of work. Is it fair that one person who can’t or won’t deliver is allowed to remain? By allowing this, you negatively affect your technicians and your parts department. The poor performer affects everyone else’s ability to succeed and prosper. Why would you want an under-performer to dictate your level of earning power and success? You are running a business. Your first priority should be customer satisfaction and profitability. It’s like in football. If you are the manager or coach of the team, and your players are not scoring touchdowns and winning games, the first person the team owner looks at is the coach. By not making the tough decisions, you are jeopardizing your own career. Is it worth it? Usually when a football team performs poorly, it’s the coach’s head on a platter, not the receivers who dropped the passes and cost the team the game. They may want the receivers head too, but they want the coaches for not being smart enough to resolve the problem. Be reasonable about distractions. Don’t be foolish.
4. Is your game plan working? Are you making the right decisions? Again, just like in football, the score doesn’t lie and neither do your numbers. If you are going to Monday-morning-quarterback your staff, you have to be willing to do the same for your own performance. This is the one step that will separate those teams that get a bowl game from those that won’t. It will separate the team that wins the National Championship from all the others who will have to wait another year. Checking your own performance is key to providing the right kind of leadership to ensure success for everyone. Your job is to win and win big. You should take at least two hours every week to review your department. Do you have the right staff? Does your staff have the best tools to execute their jobs? Do they have the right support? Are you making the tough decisions? The very best service managers and fixed operations directors that I have ever had the pleasure to work with all subscribe to this game plan. It is their job and number one goal to deliver the absolute best working environment for their employees so that customers receive the best possible service. The service advisor is there to win. They are there to make sure the owner gets what they are paying for. They are not employed to make vendors happy. They are not employed to make employees happy. They are employed to create a winning team that wins every minute of every day, every month, year after year. The elite managers know that by delivering these kinds of results, they win too. They also know that to win, win big, and keep winning consistently, means keeping your eye on the ball. It means being an effective leader. It means making the tough calls and decisions, even at the risk of their popularity. The closer you stay to the situations that evolve, the more you can control them. As a manager, the more you foresee, the greater control you will have.
And, just like in football, the greater control you have, the less likely someone will run the score up on you. This has to be a weekly practice. There are four Monday mornings, on average, in each month. Quarterbacking is not a part time job.
In football most want to be the quarterback, the star of the team, the one who throws the winning touchdown in the last second of the game. Very few ever get that privilege. But in management, everyone gets to be the Monday-morning-quarterback. It seems like everyone is willing to point out what’s wrong. But not very many can make the changes necessary to fix the problems. It is the actions you take or do not take that will determine if you ever make it to the “Super Bowl” and win. Will you be left in the stands with all the other Monday-morning-quarterbacks? So many fail to recognize the flaw in themselves of not making the hard decisions, implementing change, and demanding excellence of everyone around them. Don’t remain a part of the problem, become part of the solution. All talk and no action is bad for business. All talk and no action will get you sacked.
About the author: Jeff Cowan, in his 29th year of Service Department Sales Training, is recognized as the creator of the modern-day, walk-around and selling processes for dealership service departments and after-market auto service repair shops. Jeff is the nation’s authority when it comes to training service advisors and service support staff. You can see him on a weekly broadcast of CBT News and read many of his published articles on various automotive publications. Currently partnered with NADA, EasyCare, NCM, Marellen, Elead1One and other vendors and manufacturers.
Visit his website at AutomotiveServiceTraining.com get info on On-Site Training, Public and Private Workshops, DVD Training Program, Webinars, and a FREE trial of Virtual Training! For more great tips and advice, follow Jeff on Twitter at@JCowansProTalk. He’s also on Facebook, and Google+. You can also watch Jeff Cowan’s videos on YouTube!
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