In order to develop a true sales mentality, service managers need to work on their sales instincts; here is a road map to improvement.There was a time when we at PRO TALK would visit a dealership, train the service advisors and expect to achieve desired results. That has changed given a significant shift in the needs of the service customer, the vehicles, the manufacturer and the dealer. Today, when we visit a dealership, we must also work with and train the service managers, cashiers, porters, parts counter, greeters – anyone who talks to customers.However, I have noticed the service manager often needs the most support. Since most service managers earn their way up after working as a technician, parts manager or possibly an advisor, they typically are taught by their predecessor or through an outdated management class. The most glaring deficiency in these management classes has to do with sales management. Many dealership service departments failed to recognize that what used to be a simple “service and repair” center has evolved into a “service and service retail” center offering many additional products and services. This being the case, the role of service manager has evolved into a service sales manager.When this evolution is not acknowledged or recognized, the extra services, products and sometimes even repairs are not effectively offered and sold, resulting in an underperforming department. How does your service department avoid becoming an underperformer and instead overachieve? By following these six steps:
If you have never attended a selling class, read a selling book or watched selling videos, then this is where you start. You have to become a master salesperson in your own right if you expect your staff to follow your direction. How can you instruct them to meet outstanding sales numbers, if you yourself do not know how to do that?
2. SELECT YOUR SALES TRAINING VERY CAREFULLY. You will find there are many product vendors and factory sales training programs available to you. Some are decent but most revolve around how to sell specific products, and the benefits are usually specific to those products.Search the Internet for your training. Begin by searching for a general selling program with books and tapes, like those from Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy. More recently, Jeffrey Gitomer and others have joined the list. Then, look for specific training programs on the products your service department will sell. Plenty of independent venders provide that type of training.
3. ONCE YOU ARE MORE FAMILIAR WITH SALES BASICS, CREATE YOUR OWN SALES PROCESS. This process should be based on uncovering needs, presenting solutions and asking for the business. It should be as simple as you can make it and one that all service employees are required to learn and fully execute. SET SALES GOALS FOR EACH SERVICE EMPLOYEE
4. SET BOTH BUSINESS AND PERSONAL GOALS FOR EACH OF YOUR SERVICE EMPLOYEES. You want each service employee to have and know defined goals, why you are pursing those goals, and the benefits to him. You must manage to those employee goals, and when they reach their goals, you reach yours.These goals should be set annually and discussed monthly with each employee, to ensure that everyone stays on track.
5. LEARN HOW TO WRITE AND PRESENT SALES MEETINGS. Your first job will be to create a basic training class. It may take a few days to a few weeks for your employees to complete. It should be followed by twice-weekly sales meetings last about 15 minutes, followed by a monthly sales meeting that lasts 30 to 60 minutes. I would recommend that annually, you hold recertification meetings to retrain every employee and refresh a condensed version of the base program.Do not let creation of content for these meetings overwhelm you. At first it may seem daunting, but eventually you will find it gets easier and easier. The general approach I suggest is to: 1) Identify your staff’s concerns; 2) Create or search out a sales solution for each problem; 3) Role-play the solution with your staff; 4) Monitor whether your staff is utilizing the information you provided; and 5) Determine if the problems are being addressed and solved.
6. SET MINIMUM STANDARDS AND HOLD YOUR STAFF ACCOUNTABLE TO MEET THEM. Service managers must execute this most important step, or the whole exercise becomes pointless. Every serious selling job I ever had required that I sell a minimum amount of product, that I make people happy and keep them coming back for more product. A smart manager knows it requires a great deal of effort to get the customer to come in the door, sees each customer as an opportunity and knows if the opportunity is not maximized, minimum numbers will not be achieved.
Don’t let employees dictate what the level of success will be. You are the leader. You decide where you are going, develop the plan to get there and execute the plan. Managers who fail to assume that responsibility ultimately fail in their positions. When employees refuse to do what you ask of them – like walking around cars, memorizing word tracks and other tasks that guarantee your success – you show your dealer, your manufacturer and the world that you are incapable of leading or managing.A question I routinely get asked is: How can I tell if I am in jeopardy of losing my job as service manager? The answer is simple. You uncover the average numbers in service sales, customer paid repair order, effective labor rate, survey scores and customer retention for the manufacturer that you represent. Then, you compare your department to those averages. Once you discover what those averages are, compare yourself to them.If you are average or below, as 50 percent of those reading this article are, then you are in danger of losing your job. As a matter of fact, I would not feel totally safe in my position if I were not in the top 20 percent. The movers and shakers reside in the top 20 percent; this is where true talent exists. My first and only goal would be to get to that top 20 percent as quickly as possible, and work to move up from there.The good news in all of this is that while the task may seem daunting, once started it will become easier and easier to execute, resulting in great success. The bad news is that if you don’t recognize that “service and service repair” has been replaced with “service and service retail,” you are wasting a golden opportunity. If you don’t train your staff and yourself to become professional salespeople, you are wasting a golden opportunity.About the author: Jeff, in his 28th year of training, is recognized as the creator of the modern-day, walk-around and selling processes for service departments. Currently partnered with NADA, EasyCare, NCM, and other vendors and manufacturers, Jeff is the nation’s authority when it comes to training service advisors and service support staff. Visit his website at AutomotiveServiceTraining.com and sign up for free, weekly training. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @JCowansProTalk. He's also on Facebook, and Google+.