Service Managers, as the tide rolls out on 2015 and we look ahead to the new incoming tide of 2016, it is time we sit down and start to plan for what I believe will be a record year for service department sales.
I have witnessed many service managers and service departments experiencing their best years, year after year. Although the number of service departments having their best years has not increased much with each passing year, those who are having record years understand that it is not happening because of luck. It is happening because they are identifying their roadblocks, developing plans to navigate around those roadblocks, setting minimum acceptable standards, and executing.
Having worked with literally hundreds of these successful service departments, I will share with you their secrets of how and why they are so successful.
1. They have processes that have created a sales culture throughout their entire service department; processes that guarantee no matter who a customer speaks with in the service department, they will be talked to and handled in the exact same way. The managers in these successful stores understand that just like in selling, you have to take control of a customer, and they understand that you must do the same with your staff. Take control of them, train them, require the memorization of word tracks and processes, and then execute them. They fully realize that if they are not in control of their staff and their customers, their staff and customers will control them.
2. They have all the latest tools needed (including multi-point inspection processes) which are utilized to their fullest by both their technicians and their service advisors. They have tablets to make the check in process cleaner and quicker. They have up to date displays which are inviting and easy to work from. They have processes in place to maximize the technologies of email, texting, telephones and video to communicate to their customers in the most efficient ways possible; ways that today’s customer welcomes with open arms.
3. They have some type of rewards-system that remunerates their best customers for repeat business. Think airline mileage programs. They know that these types of programs are what truly accelerate customer retention, and they never rely on cheap prices and coupons. That said, they will use coupons, but with an advertised “value price” and not necessarily the cheapest price.
4. They have processes to guarantee that every declined service and every missed check in time is followed up within 24 to 48 hours, maximizing every opportunity and showing their customers how serious their shop is when it comes to maintenance, repair and providing great service.
5. They approach training from the stand point that training is not something you did. It is something you do – forever. They have a basic training course that every service employee must attend when first hired, where they earn a certificate. This is followed by weekly fifteen minute sales meetings, capped with a monthly hour long sales meeting, where strengths and weaknesses are examined and corrected as needed. They typically have a recertification meeting once a year, because they believe all training certificates should come with an expiration date. They also look outside their own business for training, to make sure that they do not become stagnant and that their message does not grow tired.
6. They schedule annual meetings with each employee to discuss goals, each individual’s role, and what they are being held accountable for. They have a briefer quarterly meeting to make sure that their goals are on track, and stay on track. Their mantra tends to be, “It is not about any single employee; it is about every single employee”.
In addition to all of these major items there are minor things they do as well, to ensure their success. They take this seriously and execute it with great enthusiasm, because they clearly understand that if the customer is not “wowed” every single time, there may not be a next time. They get that they are there for the customer and if there is no customer, there is no job security.
As many of you know I am out in the field on a consistent basis, and have been for over 29 years. I may not know everything, but I see a lot. I receive telephone calls all the time from Dealers and Managers hearing exactly what their dealerships do to have these record years. That question arises in nearly every meeting I am in. When I spell out what I have spelled out here, a few heed the advice and steer their ships toward newer and greater horizons. However, many more write it off as too much work, or unrealistic, and remain on the same ship in the same rough waters, never seeming to realize that it is they who need to simply plot a new course and guide their ship to discover these newer, bigger horizons that await all who are willing to navigate the waters.
About the author: Jeff Cowan, in his 29th year of training, is recognized as the creator of the modern-day, walk-around and selling processes for service departments. 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, 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 get info on On-Site Training, Public and Private Workshops, NEW 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!