Which is harder: knowing or doing? Almost everyone understands that “doing” is harder than “knowing.” I agree, but the first step in the knowing/doing process must be, by necessity, “knowing.”
It is the height of absurdity to demand that service advisors sell more maintenance service if they haven’t been taught how to do it. It’s silly to expect them to do an on-the-drive walkaround if they haven’t been shown the proper way. It’s a waste of time to reprimand an employee for doing something the wrong way (or not doing it at all) if you’ve never instructed them on the correct way to do it.
Another common mistake managers make is to assume that after attending one workshop, their advisors are now trained. It doesn’t work that way. As my colleague Ben Patnode says, “you have to practice, drill and rehearse.” Then you know what you have to do? Give them more training! When does the learning process stop? When you die.
Just to be clear, I encounter automotive professionals everyday who “have arrived,” they “know it all” and training is a “waste of their time.” They are dead; they just haven’t fallen over yet.
The greatest, most successful dealers and general managers I know are those who practice a life-long learning process. The top producing service managers and advisors in our industry have a thirst to get better at their profession.
The ultimate goal of training is to produce wisdom. Wisdom goes beyond knowledge to understanding and action! Read that again: it’s very profound. Look at the progression: training, wisdom, understanding, and action. If you want to take it one step further, action produces results…i.e., money!
So maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, fine Charlie, I agree training is one of the basic principles of success, but who is going to do the training, and how do we carve out the time?”
In a perfect world, the service manager does all the training, but that’s not practical in the real world. However, it is very workable for the service manager to coordinate all the training.
Action point: Set up a calendar of weekly training and rotate your personnel through the meetings. Do training at lunch, in the evening, on-line, off-site, via DVD or any number of different ways.
Enlist a team of professionals to do the training. Involve your strategic vendor partners, have a technician teach the advisors about a mechanical component, let your dealer discuss the vital role that fixed operations plays in the overall dealership business plan, the list of “trainers” is endless.
I’m willing to personally help you myself. Every month, I teach a live service success webinar. Last year, over 2,500 automotive professionals attended these on-line interactive sessions. If you and your staff want to participate, then send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know the name of your dealership and the city and state where you are located.
I’ll send you the 2011 webinar schedule and start the process to get you registered. The webinars start at noon (central time) and last a brief 45 minutes. Because the webinars are live, you’ll be able to ask me questions and get the answers in real time. Best of all, I’m offering this to you for free—how’s that for a deal!
I have always been a strong advocate of having a weekly service “sales” meeting. This is the opportunity for the service manager to re-focus the techs and advisors on the parts and labor sales goals. It is a time to remind the service personnel that they are all on the same team. It is a chance to publically reward top producers and commend those who are continually making improvements.
Obviously, Mr. Manager, you can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t lead where you won’t go.
Breaking news: The primary role of a leader is to lead from the front! Therefore, it is important for managers to continually seek out training for themselves. I repeat, cutting edge automotive managers are always looking for workshops that allow them to sharpen their skills.
One last word: don’t ever send someone for training as a punishment. Training is a reward! Don’t ever say something like “if you reach your target hours per RO this month, then you don’t have to go to training.” If management has a positive view of training, then the employees will also.
Someone once commented to me that they didn’t train their employees because eventually they just leave the dealership anyway. Listen my friends, there’s only one thing worse than training your people and having them leave, and that is not training them and having them stay!