Last month, my article focused on helping you hold your people accountable to your service processes. Odds are your dealership has sound processes in place, but is it time to do a process “makeover?” In other words, is it time to update and refresh the process? Or, as my friend Joe Bynum says, “is it time to put a new set of clothes on the old man?”
Processes tend to get stale over time, they don’t become suddenly irrelevant, but it is pretty easy for processes to slowly lose their luster. Sometimes a process is flawed or poorly implemented. It isn’t bringing in any revenue, but because your people are in the habit of doing it, they continue doing the process without getting any results.
To illustrate the point, let me tell you about some consulting work I was doing with a dealership group earlier this year. The advisors were faithfully doing the walk-around process on every car; they never missed one. It was required by management and in fact, it was a condition of employment. However, upon review, I found the walk-around wasn’t producing any revenue for the service department. The advisors never reviewed the walk-around form with the customer. They never did any “discovery” and therefore, never up-sold any additional maintenance services. They apparently forgot the walk-around process wasn’t the “end,” but rather the means to the end. That’s insanity!
Okay, so that is not really the dictionary definition of insanity, but you see this played out everyday, right before your eyes, don’t you?
Here are some examples of dealership insanity:
- Techs complain about not getting enough hours, but they won’t fill out a multipoint inspection form.
- Advisors get slammed at 7:30 a.m., but they refuse to use the appointment feature of your DMS system.
- Managers complain about their service staff, yet they fail to realize you don’t hire “who you want,” but rather you hire “who you are.”
- A service process is wildly successful and profitable, yet due to one customer complaint, management shuts it down.
- OEMs oppose profitable fluid maintenance services while telling dealerships to make up the lost revenue by selling more “wax, vacuum, and detail” services. Oh, brother!
Let’s shift gears and look at some solutions to get processes that are bogged down to a point where they are moving again and bringing in revenue.
Maybe all you need to do is tweak the process and do it a slightly different way. A great illustration of this principle is found in the Bible, in John 21:
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore…He called out (to the disciples), “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “throw down your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
(Upon reaching land) Simon Peter…dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn.
They had the same tools (boat, nets, and tackle). They had the same personnel (experience and expertise). They had the same territory (the lake). They had the same goal (to catch fish). And they had the same opportunity (there were fish in the lake)!
So, what made the difference? The leader said to execute the strategy in a different way and in a different area. It worked and resulted in success.
Now, let’s apply the principle to your service department. Your tools on the service drive are computers, write up sheets, menus, point of sale materials, etc. Your personnel are service advisors, techs and porters. Your territory is your customer base and cars on your service drive. Your goal is customer retention and increased gross profit. Your opportunity is greater than ever before, because vehicle owners understand that preventive maintenance is cheaper than repair. Preventive maintenance revenue will flow your way when you educate customers and ask them to buy!
As you begin this new year, take a couple of days to evaluate the way your service team is carrying out your processes. Look for ways to implement a new approach and look for ways to do things differently. Maybe you’re too close to the situation and you need to bring in a consultant or one of your trusted strategic vendor partners to give you an objective third-party opinion.
Over the next few months in my articles, I’ll keep supplying you with some fresh approaches to proven processes. I have a passion for helping you reach your goals and desired outcomes. You can do it and I am honored to have played a small part.
Speaking of the next few months, I’ve got an idea for a future Dealer magazine article, but I need your help to pull it off. I want to do a “Question & Answer” article on the topics and issues that are at the top of your list. I always write about the things that are important to me, but I’m reaching out and asking you to let me know the things that are important to you.
E-mail your questions to me at email@example.com. Please make sure to let me know if I have permission to use your name or if you wish to stay anonymous.
Let me tell you up front that I don’t have all of the answers, but after almost three decades in the business, I know the people who do. I look forward to hearing from you!