Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Ultimate Service Manager-Part One

I have been asked over and over again what does it take to become a Top Performing Service Manager? In Part One of this series I've titled "The Ultimate Service Manager", we are going to explore this topic in depth.

This E-Book will also guide you what to look for, make a plan to accomplish it, and how to execute it. We will also provide proven, common sense solutions that will lead to "Unrealistic Results" month after month.

Over the past fifteen years, I have trained,coached and consulted many dealer principles and service managers and it seems that the one common thread I find with each of them is lack of execution after an evaluation and a plan has been created.

I have a three step process that if followed as designed will bring you continuous success over and over again.

Here it is:
  • Evaluate
  • Plan
  • Execute
When your done REPEAT! It's a never ending circle if you want to be successful.
Let's dive into what I look at first in an evaluation of my fixed operations.

The first thing is the most important. I take a hard look at your current employees and knowing what you know now about your employees would you hire them today?

If your answer is no, ask yourself why? What happened during the hiring process? Maybe one of the employees has been there for 30 years and doesn't perform up to standards and you didn't even hire them.

If your asking yourself what the answer is, you need a Hire to Fire process in place. If you're thinking to yourself after reading that last sentence..."I know what to do"...then you need to ask yourself..."How well am I doing at what I know?"

The answer I get 95 % of the time is "not very good! Why is that? We know what to do,  however we don't apply what we know to our business. Doesn't make any sense right?

The number one thing I have found after visiting over 300 plus dealerships is the majority of employees are not being held "Accountable" or "Praised" for their behavior or their actions.

Now I have found a few of the dealers employees were being disciplined while others were exempt for whatever reason or excuse. Remember I said "Some" of them. I would rather see no one being held accountable then some of them.

The same is true for praising the employee(s) when they do a great job! This is one of the most basic fundamental things that exists today in any business if you want to achieve your Goals.

Here's what our Hire to Fire questioner looks like and I can already hear some of you saying that you already know or do this. Then you need to find a mirror and take a good look at yourself and ask how well you are you doing it?

A. Hire to Fire questioner:
  1. Would I hire any of these current employees right now knowing what I know about them after working with them?
  2. Do I have a Hiring Process in place so I don't make mistakes from a "Gut Feeling"?
  3. Do I have an Employee Job Description for each position?
  4. Do you have a Pay Plan that rewards what needs to be Repeated?
  5. Do I have an Employee Handbook Process in place?
  6. Do I have an Employee Orientation/Training Process in place? 
  7. Do I have a Goal Action Process in place so my employees don't have their own individual agendas?
  8. Do I have a Corrective Action Process in place so I don't play favorites and correct unfavorable behavior in a timely manner for everyone? 
  9. Do I have an Employee Exit Strategy Process in place so I can learn from it?
  10. Do I create a Job Description first before I hire anyone so I don't just throw people at a problem?
So now after reviewing the list,  how many of these items do you use with every employee? 

Let's review how to use each of these items. The first item on this list is fairly self explanatory, however I would suggest you involve the other managers to discuss all the employees in fixed operations at one time. 

The more input you receive the better the decision on what to do with each employee. Remember to take in account if this employee went through a "Hire to Fire" process when hired? 

The second item is all about having a few interviews to review; personality or behavior profile results, background checks, job description review, overall goals and pay plan. All of which are necessary before hiring so there are no questions left unanswered about the position prior to employment. 

As you can clearly see, not having all these items in place leaves you vulnerable to high turnover percentages which, in turn leads to low employee moral and employee satisfaction rates.

These items are irrefutable! If you are not following these "Basic Fundamentals" the end result is loss in customer retention and net profits. Low turnover percentages is a matter of "Good Management".

Remember, happy employees will create a happy customers every time. Let's take a look at the next item on the list which is your Operational Structure or as we call it "Cradle to Grave" process. This is how we process our customer from initial contact to follow-up.

The number one item on my list is the Service Drive Process. Now, out of this process is the "key" to a successful operation which Appointment System that everyone follows. Here's a question I ask all the time...

Do you allow customers to "Just Bring It In" or do they need an appointment before they come in for anything including oil changes?

If the answer is "Yes"?...Anything else you're asking your Service Advisors to do is going to fail do to lack of Time Management. It also has a trickle down effect with your Technicians and Parts Department as everybody loses!

We all know how many things we ask our advisors to do each day and it can't be done without an Appointment System that is customer friendly.

Do you wait for the customers to approach the advisors or do they greet them at their vehicles?

Is there more then two customers in line for any of your advisors in the morning? If so, then you' customers are not receiving what you promised them which leads to poor C.S.I. and low gross profits.

Do we Inspect Every Customer's Vehicle no matter what mileage it has? These are just some of the items that need to be in place for continuous success!   

B. Operational Structure Evaluation
  1. Do you have a Service Drive Process which is customer friendly?
  2. Do you have a Production Process in place?
  3. Do you have a Morning Meeting with your Techs and Advisors to review current performance and today's objectives?
  4. Do you have a Follow-Up Process that can be reviewed each month?
The service drive process should take care of your customer from the time they call to the time they receive there vehicle to leave. How does your's measure up?

I don't mean what you know, but how well is it working? I have so many managers tell me they already do that and I have seen with my own eyes and ears that it's not working. 

Let's move onto the next item in our evaluation. This is an area which tells the story. I only need to look at a few items to tell a dealer what is happening in his Fixed Operations.

I have so many managers who get themselves into "analysis paralysis" by over analyzing what is happening in their departments and some that don't know what their looking at or never look at it. 

Here's a short list of what I look at when reviewing a financial statement or custom reports.  

C. Financial Evaluation
  1. Labor Sales Per Customer Pay Repair Orders. (Total and per Advisor)
  2. Total Customer Pay Labor Sales Vs. Last Year Same Period. (Monthly and Year to Date)
  3. Customer Pay Repair Order Count Vs. Last Year Same Period. (Monthly and Year to Date)
  4. Number of Technicians and Production % for the last 4 months.
  5. Missed Opportunities per advisor over 30,000 miles.
  6. Departmental Net Profit Vs. Last Year Same Period. (Monthly and Year to Date)
  7. Fixed Operations Absorption Rate.
As you can see, I don't start looking at expenses until I know what our customer retention and sales are doing  because 90% of the time, once you get the Gross Profit up to guide the expenses usually fall into place.

There is a lot of things you can drill down into once you see where opportunity exists. This short list tells me everything I need to know to get started.

The last thing in my evaluation process is how well we are able to take care of our customers. What is their perception of our Fixed Operations when they visit? One of the first things I do is visit the bathroom. Believe it or not, this is one of the top reasons why a customer will not return to you service department. 

It should have a report on the wall when the bathroom was last cleaned. How's the waiting room looking? Do you have magazines dated back months or even years? Is the furniture clean from dirt, dust and stains?

These are just a few things I have found in my dealership travels.

Here's a few key things to look at:

D. Facility Evaluation
  1. Does your signage effectively inform customers of important instructions?
  2. Is a daily Cleaning Process in place to keep everything consistent and professional in appearance?
  3. Is your Service Drive well maintained and vehicles moved in a timely manner?
  4. Is your building clean and well maintained?
  5. Do you meet with other management monthly to discuss any issues concerning the facility?
This is a very short list of what should be looked at twice a year with all management because each of these items overlap into the other departments. We want a Great Customer perception of our facility and how well they have been treated.

Guy Salkeld is the President and Head Performance Coach of Automotive Consultants Group Inc. The only Low Risk High Return Training, Coaching, and Consulting company in the world! To learn more go to  Have a question? E-Mail Guy directly at or Call me direct at: 305-331-3373    

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