I looked at my desk and the seven repair orders I laid out to visualize what I had going on. Six more repair orders sat in a stack under my keyboard, several more wedged between my desktop speaker and the wall. The flashing red light on my phone reminded me of the four voicemails waiting in my inbox but my attention was drawn away from all this into the service drive. Another car pulled in. I saw down the line my coworkers scattering. I already knew I was going to have to take this customer. I knew I was drowning…What’s one more gulp of water?
This wasn’t a unique situation but I remember it vividly for two reasons. One, I had just learned that a customer completely destroyed me on a survey. I knew the math and was very aware that I had just lost my CSI bonus which meant that all this hard work and stress…was for nothing. The second reason was that my employer had brought in a consultant and after spending the day trying not to complain but instead explain the issues I felt needed to be addressed, his suggestion to me was to “pop the hood in the drive”… because I used to be a technician and I could upsell more in the drive. Rage doesn’t cover the emotions felt that day but I didn’t walk out, how could I with all those open RO’s?
My experience as a service advisor was not unlike most others. I lived on black coffee and red bull. I worked 60 hours a week and rarely took lunch breaks. I made it my business to know everyone at the dealership. Who they were, what they did, how they did it. If I could use them to help get me through the day I did. If they were going to slow me down, I learned how to work around them. I knew the tricks to getting my cars in ahead of others and how to “hide” a loaner car when I really needed to. I could get a car detailed with no appointment in half the time it took by saying the right thing to the right guy. I was good at my job, and hated it.
I walked around with the weight of the world on my shoulders and felt underappreciated, undervalued, and unacknowledged.
I never spent longer than 18 months at one dealership. I danced through the honeymoon phase, did my best to improve what I could and then slowly became another voice in the crowd.
I learned to complain about everything.
Eventually I would hit my limit and move on to the next dealership…the next place to inevitably leave.
Why is this one of the norms in this industry? Why was this process doomed to repeat and why does it still repeat for others?
It took me a journey into self-development and personal growth to get that the reason why I struggled so much wasn’t because of all the obstacles I had at my dealerships.
It was because I wasn’t a leader / good communicator.
I was trained on how to sell and upsell. I was trained on how to greet a customer and how to write a repair order. I had no idea how to properly communicate with my coworkers. I had no idea how to be present for my customers.
The worst part of all, I didn’t know how to put my work down. My time away from work was filled with complaining to my girlfriend about the job which did no service to our relationship.
I now work in automotive consulting. I travel to dealerships and educate staff on how to build a community together, become leaders, and generate a happier work environment. I get to transform staff from where they are now, to where they want to be. Nothing makes me happier.
If you’re working in a dealership and reading this, I want you to get that you are so much more powerful than you think. I want you to get that you are the solution to your problems. I want to acknowledge you for your hard work.
If you’re a manager or an owner, I want you specifically to understand that behind every complaint, is a request. Your staff is asking you for help. They want to be successful! They want to be happy! Imagine what going to work would look like if everyone was there working together resolving problems on the spot! Imagine going home and not taking work with you!
Right now at every dealership, there’s a team of leaders that can improve your sales, customer experience, productivity, and moral. They’re your employees. Teach them to listen. Teach them to communicate. Teach them to be leaders. I promise you, they are your greatest resource.
Author: Josh Robin
Josh Robin is the founder of Posivibe LLC, a company that combines years of automotive experience with personal coaching, leadership development, and innovative communication technologies. Josh’s drive for helping businesses generate leaders, fostering a strong sense of community, and building deeper relationships with customers, has made him known to be a pioneer in the automotive industry. Josh’s newest endeavor is a startup that is developing cutting edge software to streamline service flow. This will translate into a less chaotic, lower stress environment for staff and a more pleasant customer experience. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org