I passionately believe that the service department is first and foremost a sales organization. It is a reoccurring theme in almost every article I write, every training session I teach, and every workshop I present. Every fixed ops consultant that I know and respect agrees with the premise that selling cars is good, but selling service is better!
Every NADA convention I’ve ever attended has had at least two or three workshops centered around this undeniable fact: successful, profitable service departments sell service.
Sales is not a dirty word in the sales department, so why do so many dealers act like sales is a no-no in the service department?
One of my mentors is Don Reed, CEO of DealerPRO Training. I have a huge respect for Don and the wisdom he brings to his dealer clients. He is a trusted advisor to dealers and dealership personnel around the world—and he’s a man who has taught me a lot!
“In many dealerships, when crossing from variable ops to fixed ops, the word “selling” takes on a whole new meaning. It shouldn’t.”
Listen to what Don Reed has to say:
“Since when is selling a bad thing? I have personally spoken with, preached to and worked with thousands of dealers across the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. I have found that far too many dealers and managers have a great divide within their dealerships. I like to call this divide the demarcation line. It divides the variable operations (new, used, F&I, special finance) from the fixed operations (service, parts, collision center). When some of these dealers cross over the demarcation line from the variable operations to fixed operations, the word ‘selling’ takes on a whole new meaning.”
“For example, when I ask a dealer what they would do with a salesperson who only sells five cars a month, the most common response is, ‘Get rid of them and replace them with someone who can sell.’ Conversely, when I ask that same dealer what they would do with a service advisor only selling 1.0 hour per repair order, far too often the response is, “He’s a good guy. Everybody likes him, and I don’t want him to oversell our customers.’”
“By this logic, this dealer would fire a salesperson for underselling and fire a service advisor for overselling?”
“Let’s take this one step further. Using this example, you would fire a sales manager who could only close 10 percent of the sales opportunities coming in the door because he is underselling and losing you thousands of dollars in gross profit each month, and you would fire a service director who is closing 50 percent of the service menu presentations in the service drive because he is overselling and making you thousands of dollars in additional gross profit each month? Really?”
Don Reed continues:
“Why would any dealer tolerate this scenario? Why would any dealer think performance-based pay plans are a good policy for the variable operations but a bad one for fixed operations? If having 100-percent menu presentations is the right process for the F&I department, then why is it not the right process for the service department?”
“In my many years of working in the field with dealers of all sizes, I have yet to find a single dealer who is overselling their service, parts and collision center customers. Of course we should never sell a customer any product, service, part, or repair that their vehicle does not need. That, however, is not what I’m talking about here.”
“I’m talking about the advisor selling the customer what their vehicle does need. I’m talking about selling safety and reliability-related services and repairs. I’m talking about selling the customer on the benefits of preventive maintenance and following the manufacturers’ basic requirements and recommendations.”
Amen! Well said!
Quite frankly, I’ve never quoted someone so extensively in one of my articles, but I think you can see why I did. If you follow Don’s advice for selling service, I can promise great results and great profits.
There are an abundance of sales materials, word tracks, training programs, consultants, presentation tools, and sales processes available to help your fixed ops team hone their selling service skills. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help knowing where to start.
Happy (service) sales to you!
Author: Charlie Polston
Charlie Polston is an Automotive Customer Retention and Profitability Consultant with BG Products, Inc. Charlie has been with BG’s Fixed Operations Division for over 34 years. He has trained over 5,000 dealers, managers, and technicians – and has been a frequent workshop leader at NADA’s annual convention.