There are a few things in our business that everybody talks about, but no one seems to be able to do anything about them. They are: lost sales and walkarounds. Both are things that we know we should be doing every day in order to be profitable, yet while paying lip service to them, we are largely guilty of not doing them.
There is probably no greater cost effective activity that a service salesperson can do then to inspect a vehicle, with the customer present, before the unit goes into the shop. Think about it, what a golden opportunity to establish a business relationship with a customer while at the same time discussing the needs of their major investment. Instead we allow our salespeople to hide behind a counter and their computer. This effectively distances themselves from the source of their livelihood. Here’s what could be happening:
- Establishing a personal relationship with the customer.
- Introducing the Multi Point Inspection (MPI) process to the customer.
- Protecting the dealership from prior damage complaints.
- Identifying immediate service and repair needs.
- Eliminating unnecessary follow-up calls.
- Verifying repair issues before the technician gets the vehicle.
- Prepping the customer for a good survey score.
Instead we usually get the following:
- Establishing a cold impersonal relationship with the customer with a “Who’s next?” environment.
- Negating the value of an MPI inspection.
- Exposing the dealership to probable situations of exiting damage claims.
- Loss of revenue on obvious service/repair needs.
- Excessive loss of ASM and Technician productivity spent making multiple calls to customers for work approvals that could have been obtained in the drive.
- Loss of technician productivity in wasted diagnostic time due to poorly written ROs (i.e. “Check for rattle.”
- Poor to mediocre scores when asked about courtesy, timeliness and fixed right the first time on surveys.
So what’s the solution? I know, you’ve “been down this road before and nothing works.” I submit to you that this is a process and management issue. The only way to change behavior in people is to:
- Establish the process and clearly document it.
- Train on the process. You can’t expect people to learn by guessing what you want.
- Measure the process. Daily, weekly, monthly and constantly.
- Reward the process. Make it part of the pay plan.
Much like walkarounds, lost sales have been around for a long time. Countless epistles have been written about them, but just like their Biblical equivalents, they are doomed to be repeated every time the faithful gather.
What is a lost sale? Lost sales to parts is the same as traffic control to sales. It is the means of identifying what a customer needed from our inventory that we could not provide from stock.
Why is this important? Without the posting of quality lost sales our DMS’ capability of developing a proper inventory is compromised. It has to rely solely on real sales and misses the ones we could, and should have had if we only had the part on hand.
Why do most dealerships not do good lost sales?
- Management doesn’t see the need.
- Management doesn’t understand the importance.
- Employees don’t understand the value.
- Management doesn’t manage the process.
- No one measures the process.
How do ‘enlightened’ dealerships do good lost sales?
- Management is trained on the importance and value that quality Lost Sales provide to a high performing parts inventory.
- Employees are informed of the values to them, not just to the dealership.
- Management states the policies and objectives of the dealership clearly.
- Management measures the performance of all employees and coaches to success.
- Management maintains a culture that says it’s important to them and the dealership.