The hot ticket these lean days is attending some type of “service sales” workshop, webinar, or similar rodeo, teaching dealer service professionals how to create and sell additional flat rate hours during the service drive reception process, and/or inspection results from the now ever-so-popular multi-point inspection thingy.
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ is the usual underlying theme, and in fact there is a flat-rate red-suited fat man in every service department bearing lots of flat rate gifts for good selling girls and boys. Based on some recent research I did, there is likely up to four tenths additional on the average repair order (lots of 0’s, but lots of 2.0’s too). However, discovering and presenting more flat rate hours is just a minor part of this unfortunate saga.
Take a number
I have the sweet opportunity to conduct a lot of training sessions for “people of the service drive,” and frankly I love doing it. If you know me, you are aware I am a been-there, done-that, bought-the-shirt kinda guy, who has experienced the reality so many assistant service managers (Ok, service advisors — boo) are persevering through. Service support staffs have been cut to the cuticle, while at least 25 million first-owner customers (in the country of course) have been told they don’t need an appointment, while the other 25 million are receiving appointments by incompetents (good individuals, just lost) using feeble appointment software, or making there own on-line (same thing).
Consequently, expectant drivers are continually showing up in menacing wolf pack manner, placing the ASM in a reactive survival mode, barely able to keep up with the basic demand, let alone another they dare to create. ASMs regularly confide in me that they “don’t sell much” because they are not able to cope effectively with the flow as it is in their 10 to 11 hour day.
Do me, do me
Consider these expected accomplishments: Process customer reception 10 times (listen, question, confirm, document, estimate)- check wipers, tires, damage, under-hood, lights, and for reconditioning needs — check recalls — present Multi-Point Inspection — maintenance needs — second estimate — signature authorization — manage loaner — rental — shuttle (be back in 20 minutes, yeah, right) — answer phone, make phone call — dispatch to shop — open reception door for 15th time — move vehicles — ride with customer — make third estimate — check coffee in lounge — present diagnostic finding — find lost waiting customer — find lost keys — find lost car — find lost paper work — find lost porter – cashier — active delivery — schedule next service appointment — whoops, handle upset customer, another coupon customer (forgot it), CSI customer (give it away), etc. And all of this occurs before 10 am!
As far as I am concerned, no human being should be allowed to make any decisions regarding service appointments, the service process, additional selling, or anything remotely related, until they gain adequate substance by spending a few months doing the deed themselves. Completely inexperienced (clueless) marketers, software developers, and hapless managers of all sorts are making unfortunate decisions negatively affecting the ASM position, which is frankly ensuring it will be a disaster. Then well-meaning pundits exacerbate the free-for-all situation by “threatening” these employees to sell more or else. Does this make any sense?
Do them, do them
Here are a few answers to the above circumstance. Get a greeter for the service drive. I know you don’t have any money, that’s why you should use the general manager — ok, that won’t fly. How about a sales person, who needs to make contacts anyway, rather than reading the newspaper in the outhouse. Or the parts driver who isn’t leaving till 10, or a cashier not busy in the morning., or the parts manager checking e-mail in his or her office, or at least a part-time retired person who’s been up since 5 am. anyway. How about the shuttle driver who isn’t leaving for another 30 minutes — don’t sit on a bench, join the team of helpers.
Mr. Service Manager — please be at the drive for the first several hours directing the activities of everyone! Forget that marginally useful paperwork pile for a couple hours and get out there to ensure everyone is doing their job in support of the weary ASM staff. Pitch in where needed, and keep the porters moving instead of sneaking smokes around the corner.
As far as service appointment controls go, they have to be effective for an operation expected to cope profitably with warranty, large repairs, diagnostics, engineering issues, whining customers, sold units, NPFs, and so-called friends-of-the-dealer. No appointment needed has even bit the simpleton quick lube industry, which is experiencing customers leaving when there isn’t an empty bay in sight. If you can afford it, assign a professional to manage the appointment process, not just someone who can fog a mirror. Just last week I was conducting a workshop and one ASM piped up that since they had put a retired tech in the appointment control slot their entire world had improved tremendously!
Raise your right hand
Yes Virginia, everyone would like to capture the additional the flat rate hours lurking behind the original concerns. But, for many dealers it ain’t gonna happen until someone recognizes the real issue, and then takes the steps necessary to gain control of the customer flow — giving worn down ASMs at least a fighting chance to sell. If you don’t believe me, do something really creative and ask your ASMs to tell you how it really is — ask for the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That will give you the start you need to help selling begin. Don’t forgetaboutit.