While sitting in my client’s service manager office recently, I overheard this conversation between an elderly lady customer and a very young female quick-service writer. The exchange was conducted over the top of a formidable counter away the actual service-drive and subject vehicle, which was parked in the lot – somewhere.
Customer: “I’m here for an oil change.”
Writer: “Do you wanna rotate the tires?”
Customer: “Nah, just an oil change.”
Customer: “I’m gonna wait.”
Writer: “Ok. We have cookies and coffee in the lounge.”
Customer: “How long?”
Writer: “Shouldn’t take very long, just an oil change.”
I sat there thinking I was listening to a modern version of an old TV series, The Amateur Hour. Now, understand this youngster is as sweet as maple syrup, intelligent, well spoken, and loyal to both the dealership and the customers. She has the potential to be an excellent assistant service manager – someday, but not now. What’s the cost of allowing her to handle customers today?
Watta ya know?
So, I’m thinking about the pressure created from the crummy repair order flat rate hours, which have essentially collapsed for most franchises. Not only is there less and less customer pay maintenance and repairs per vehicle, the quick service craze combined with inexperienced, untrained, non-technical writers are making a demanding situation even worse.
“I sat there thinking I was listening to a modern version of an old TV series, The Amateur Hour.”
To cap off this challenging condition, dealers are spending big bucks on constructing indoor reception areas which are, for the most part, not even used as intended – basically they become parking lots and storage for new car deliveries in way to many cases (not yours of course amigo).
Oh, and the important maintenance schedules buried in the computers aren’t being used much either. The concept of printing each vehicle’s “perfect” maintenance menu for presentation to a panting consumer is a wonderful concept, but mostly a deprived application. If “prep packs” aren’t prepared beforehand containing this vital information, then “basically forgetaboutit totally” (trying to keep up present-day verbosity here). prepared beforehand containing this vital information, then “basically forgetaboutit totally” (trying to keep up present-day verbosity here).
Where to start?
Professional service managers / directors / witchdoctors / gurus, etc. can make a great start by documenting a well-constructed visualization of how the service reception process should be conducted – insert “Duh” here. Including flow control (get the freakin’ vehicles into the service drive using an aggressive greeter/traffic controller), and the “expected” (“This ain’t a democracy,” as one successful manager once explained to me). This includes the interaction pattern and specified flow between the writer and the querying guest. This construction should embrace developing the sentences (the words thingy) a professional writer should use to lead to create constructive and ultimately successful presentations. My take is that if the top dog can’t accomplish developing this crucial vision, the underlings won’t improve. Can you imagine a successful football coach who has no game plan for success?
Management has to put the words into the heads of the writers since few can invent them on their own based on their limited experience and skills, or worse yet they hang themselves as cited above. In baseball a coach doesn’t hand the batter a bat and say “figure out how to hit the ball, Bub.”
Great coaches use available resources for learning / capturing / developing the information they need to disseminate – and they don’t have to be Mensa students, but rather interested and aggressive since the raw materials they need have already been developed somewhere by someone (me).
Now, the really good news is that the bosses who take the necessary interval from their daily BS to develop a smart, thorough, and complete reception presentation game plan own that game plan, and that mentor can now coach it to great success effortlessly. And gaining a starting point won’t be difficult because ifn’ you need one, I will send you a comprehensive presentation set to ostracize, organize, and revitalize to your own perfect specs – just do it brother – for your own sake and your uneducated writers and victimized consumers.
As important is having the non-technical minions spend time in the shop learning (including touchy-feely) the aspects of maintenance performance at minimum. Some years ago I spent three valuable nights working in the shop with three (two females) very non-mechanical team managers, and they loved it (especially the air guns) – it helped put some missing passion into their presentations beyond just the work tracking. You don’t learn to play great golf just by watching videos, reading, or listening.
If you want / need a copy of one of my reception processes to start your improvement journey, just write me an email note and put on the subject line: “Reception – I’ma gonna makea bigga difference” so I know what to send. If you have adopted the super-fast ipad write-up (just kidding) you can adapt this process to work too. Keep in mind, responding to the customer’s need first is the absolute priority, not pictures, the walk around, or updating the personal info in the computer. If you do this half-ass your peeps will increase their dollars per RO – it’s just utilizing words in a managed process – actually no secret and no rocket science here coach.
Author: Ed Kovalchick
Ed Kovalchick is the CEO and founder of Net Profit Inc., Alabaster, AL, an international fixed operation consulting and training firm located in Alabaster AL. Mr. Kovalchick and his firm have assisted hundreds of dealers and manufacturers, and conducted workshops throughout the world for thousands of students since 1979. He has written columns for Dealer Magazine since its inception.