Monthly Archives: July 2011

Comfort Zone vs Accountability

As a Dealer, did last year bring you the return on investment that
you expected?

As a General Manager did you meet or exceed your net profit
for the year?

If you are a Fixed Operations Director did you increase your customer pay retail sales for parts and labor over last year?

For all three of you, is your Service Absorption rising year over
year? If any of your answers were “NO”, then you must ask yourself…why?

To begin with, your financial statements will show you where the opportunities for improvement (conditions) are but what they won’t show you is how to fix them. To fix them you have to know what’s causing the out of line condition.

Once the cause is determined you can then make the corrections
necessary to properly bring the condition in line with industry guides. For those of you who have ever written a repair order you probably recognized this as the “Three C’s”, Condition-Cause-Correction.

The Technician needs the Condition to properly diagnose the Cause which then enables him to make the necessary Correction. It’s no different for the Dealer, the General Manager or the Fixed Operations director when it comes to making money.

So, now that you have studied your financials carefully to determine the conditions that prevented you from attaining your respective financial goals, let’s determine what the cause might have been. I believe the culprits here are Comfort Zones and Accountability.

Everyone in your dealership has a comfort zone just as you do. The issue is not to get rid of them but to simply move them again and again until you achieve the results you’re looking for and then move them again!

This is important because it enables you to focus on the performance
of your employees. Next, you must hold them accountable for their individual performance.

Currently, most of you are doing that in the New Car, Used Car and F&I departments, which of course is where you devote much of your time and energy anyway, but you fail to do so in the Service and Parts departments.

Allow me to give you some examples to clarify what I’m talking about:

  1. If I am a Salesperson and I sold an average of 5
    units per month last year, what are you going to do with me? Answer: Train me how to sell 10 units or more per
    month or replace me with someone who can.
  2. If I am a Service Advisor and I sold an average
    of 1.5 hours per customer pay repair order last year, what are you going to do with me? Answer: I have a job for life!
  3. If I am a Sales Manager and my Sales Team averages 5 units per month and my gross per retail unit is at $700, what are
    you going to do with me? Answer: Train me how to average 10 units per Salesperson and gross $1500 PRU or replace me with
    someone who can.
  4. If I am a Service Manager and my Service Team averages 1.5 HPRO and my Technicians’ productivity is at 80%, what are you
    going to do with me? Answer: Leave me alone because the other dealers in your 20 Group are about the same!
  5. If I am your General Sales Manager and my Sales Team
    averages 5 units per salesperson, $700 gross PRU, $200 F&I gross PRU and loose $600 per wholesale unit, what are you going to do with me? Answer: I wouldn’t have lasted 6 months let alone a
  6. 6.    If I am a Fixed Operations Director and my Parts and Service Team averages 34% in retail parts gross, 62% in labor gross, averages 1.5 HPRO, shop productivity of 80% with a declining repair order count, what are you going to do with me? Answer: Thank you for being back there because I sure as heck don’t want to fool with that stuff!


Are you starting to see my point?

Most Dealers and General Managers will hold their Sales Team accountable
for their performance on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and make any
adjustments (moving their comfort zones) on an as needed basis NOW!

Meanwhile their Parts and Service Team remain in their comfort zones to continue to dwell in the land of “underachievers”.
Why does this happen?

My belief is that most Dealers and GM’s are outside their comfort zone in the “back end” of their dealership since their roots are in the “front end.” What can a dealer do to enable him or her to leave their comfort zone and cross over the demarcation line to the back end of their business?

  • Measure the performance of the people you intend to
  • Your people must know that you are measuring their
  • Their performance will be compared to industry
  • They must understand that they will be held
    accountable for achieving or exceeding those benchmarks.

Simply say what you mean but more importantly mean what you say. Again, most dealers don’t hesitate to do this in their Sales and F&I departments. Start  making it happen in Fixed Operations.

Now I want you to rid yourself of the usual whiny excuses that I here from dealers when I’m speaking to 20 Groups, Dealer Associations, Dealer groups or individual Dealers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s north, south, east, west or rural versus metropolitan. I hear this all across the U.S.,
Canada and theUnited Kingdom:

“Don, you don’t understand,
my market is depressed.”

“Don, you don’t understand,
my Service Manager has been with me for a
long time.”

“Don, you don’t understand, I
can’t find an Advisor that’s any better.”

“Don, I don’t want to run off
my customers by up selling”

Well folks, here is what I do understand.

A depressed market has nothing to do with accountability for performance.

Time on the job does not dictate a good performance on the job.

If you can’t find better people, look harder because they are out there. If you or any of your people are afraid of “running off customers from up selling” then you need to get out of the retail business of selling parts and service. (By the way, the
aftermarket already has 70% of your customers’ maintenance)

Don’t you think it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and make the return on your investment that you deserve? Please, drag your Fixed Operations Team out of their comfort zones and start holding them accountable! Once they stop kicking and screaming they will all make more money, they will be happier and your customers will realize you have the best dealership in town.

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”    –Peter F. Drucker

Don Reed


DealerPro Training Solutions

Pro Solutions-Pro Results”


Do or Do Not

Thomas Huxley wrote “Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”

Manager or Advisor…getting things done requires self discipline.

For Managers this is following through on the Daily Seven. That means every day you need to check on certain things in order to achieve certain results.

For the Advisors this is the 12 Step Service Drive Process. Doing this process every time with every Customer will guarantee consistent results.

The Daily Seven and the 12 Step Service Drive Process are two things that need to get done “whether you feel like it or not.”

Don’t have the 12 Step or the Daily Seven? Send an email to with the words “Thomas Huxley” in the subject line and I’ll send you a copy of the 12 Step and Daily Seven.

The Professional Service Advisor and Leader

What would a Professional Service Advisor do?
Professional Service Advisors are Leaders.

You have a unique place in your organization. You are responsible for not only providing the highest quality Customer Service Experience, you are also responsible for your own training and your own Attitude.

In the increasingly connected world, your job is becoming more and more difficult. Not only do you need to take care of the Customers needs, you have to do it faster, with more options and deliver it without interruption, no matter the circumstances.

As the world has shrunk, exponentially our expectations sometimes exceeds what is reasonable and deliverable.

As Customers, we have become spoiled, trained by “instanology” in a world measured by bandwidth bringing us tv, video and streaming media that tells us that fast is not fast enough.

In addition we’ve come to expect that every detail will be perfect in an imperfect world and if it’s not, there must be a defect. Couple this with our loss of basic communication skills and our increasing reliance on artificial barriers or buffers to give us “our” space and a sense of security and pretso…instant poor CSI score.

The Professional Service Advisors has a tough row to hoe.
All is not lost however.

A True Professional  Service Advisor and Leader takes the time to Lead by example, action, training and communication. This in turn will have a trickle down effect on other personnel in the Service Department.

Others in your department learn to overcome because quite frankly, you, the Professional Service Advisor, teach them how to overcome. The words “no” and “stop” are not in your vocabulary.

Your dictionary is filled with words like “can” and “will.” Leaders are “take action and kick ass” people who realize the world is of their making and not one of being made out.

If there is something that needs to be done, you do it with little regard for reward or accolade. You do it because it needed to get done. Period.

You are the True Professional Service Advisor and Leader in your Dealership.

Rules for Managers

Over the years I have made plenty of mistakes. Rather than keep track of the mistakes, I just made  a list of the things I learned.

If you are an aspiring Manager, print this and keep it handy. You might find a helpful thought in there to use and make a difference.

Here is the list as it stands now. I have made changes as I learned something new. Hope you can use it to do something different or make a change.

Rules for Managers

1. You get all of the blame.

2. You get none of the credit.

3. You are always talking about the future.

4. Your job is to make your boss look good and remind him/her of their
excellent choice in making you a manager.

5. Make it difficult for your people to fail, as long as they stay in the

6. Encourage action.

7. Become what I refer to as “Obnoxiously Optimistic.”

8. Always complain up the chain.

9. Always praise down the chain.

10. Learn all you can and pass it down.

11. Prepare everyone to take over your job.

12. Ask your Customers what they think. They will tell you the truth.

13. Ask your people what they think. They will tell you the truth if they
trust you, and if they don’t, then you know where to start building your new team.

14. Become judicious in your decisions.

15. Become a MBWA practitioner. If you don’t know what MBWA is, find out. Google it.

16. Practice principles you believe in. If you are not sure what your
principles are, start by deciding what you value. Then you can find your

17. Don’t be afraid to say “I made a mistake.” Everybody already
knows you did.

18. Lavish praise when needed.

19. Find reasons to celebrate. Then announce a celebration.

20. Take an employee to lunch for no reason at all.

21. Practice integrity. It makes things easier.

22. Be an employee advocate when needed. Sometimes you have to speak for
them when they cannot.

23. Challenge old ideas and ask your employees to do the same.

24. Question information from your sources from time to time. You might be
surprised at what they are not telling you.

25. Become curious about everything. Keep asking questions.

26. After asking lots of questions, shut up. Listen.

27. Ask the hard questions no one else is. Like “What are your
expectations” and “What is the reason we are doing ______?” and
“When can I expect ______ to be done?”

28. Use silence as a tool. Sometimes it is just a matter of waiting and

29. Practice brevity when counseling.

30. Become loquacious when singing the praises of your employee(s) or team

31. Become improvement driven by seeking small victories. They add up to
large accomplishments.

32. Ask forgiveness rather than permission from time to time. It shows
character, judgment and belief in yourself. Just be prepared to demonstrate the
effectiveness of what you did.

33. Celebrate the diversity in your workplace. It’s what made us great to
begin with.

34. Never let the Customer see how you run your circus. They don’t need to

35. Recognize that Leadership and Management are two different things.

36. Have compassion. Sometimes, you are all the person in front of you has
and they are looking to you for answers.

37. Don’t do workers work. Let them do it. Show them, teach them, coach them
and then, let them.

38. Be conscious of your language. Your employees see and hear everything.

39. Practice consistency in everything you do.

40. Be willing to jump in and lend a hand when needed, just not all of the
time. See #37.

41. Be the first to say Yes to new ideas and new projects.

42. Become resilient.

43. Take care of yourself physically.

44. Have a personal Mission Statement. If you have one, you can ask all of
your employees to have one as well.

45. Make sure everyone knows the company Mission Statement.

46. Counsel with your employees more than once a year.

47. Use Goals to inspire, not punish.

48. Be gracious.

49. Practice Courtesy with everyone. They will remember you for it.

50. Say “Thank You” every chance you get.

The one word every Advisor needs to hear…

There is one word every Service Advisor needs to hear.

This word is the key to their future…whether they become a top-notch superstar a middle of the road average Joe or a washout…they need this word.

It defines greatness as well as highlights deficiencies.

The word is…No.

Since our company trains in Dealerships all over the country, we are exposed to every possible Service Advisor imaginable.

From the greenpea who is day one in a new job to the old dog who knows every customer who has come in for the past 5 years!

And in the Seattle area there is a Service Advisor named Chad who became a believer in the word No!

Chad was new to the Service Advisor business at that time. He did not come from an automotive background, unless you count driving a car, and he had no  special skills. And he does not come to work wearing a cape nor does he possess the ability to see through concrete.

When we first started training in Chad’s store and introduced Professional  Selling Skills, Chad was skeptical just like everybody else.

After being trained on the 12 Step Process and ASR Presentation Skills he went back to work in the service drive. At first, he did some of the 12 Step Write-up processes some of the time and followed the ASR Presentation process sometimes… and just like everybody else, he got what you might expect…some results.

But Chad was a little different.

He understood the value in presenting all of the recommended repairs and maintenance to the customers but didn’t always follow through. Like many other Advisors, he didn’t want to seem “pushy” or “sell them something they didn’t need.”

And he didn’t like the word No.

What changed for Chad is referred to as a paradigm shift. His view of “what it means to be a Service Advisor” became radically different when he realized that his customers were having repairs done someplace else even though he had made the recommendations.

And other customers were coming in with the maintenances on their vehicle up to date because it was being completed by other shops…his competition! He realized he was getting all of the “leftovers” and the “warranty work.”

This is commonly referred to as “someone is eating your lunch.” It means  someone else gets to enjoy the fruits of your work without having to do anything for it.

He asked himself “Why are my customers leaving my Service Department  without having the work their vehicle needs completed right here at my Dealership?”

And then it hit him…it was because he NEVER ASKED! And more importantly, he realized he was afraid to ask!

He made up his mind that his customers were going to be serviced at his Dealership! He started believing that the recommendations he was making were helpful to the customer in maintaining their vehicle and actually saved them money!

And he became a fan of the word No.

He started presenting recommended services…and repair recommendations …and started reminding his customers that “just change my oil” was not really maintaining the vehicle and in the beginning he heard a No a lot. In fact, if you ask him, he will tell you that he almost gave up!

But he had decided that in order to be successful as an Advisor he needed to learn how to sell. And so, he heard even more No’s.

And in his mind he decided that every No was a good thing because that led the next YES!

And because he stuck with it…more and more No’s came his way… and still Chad kept going… and going… until finally one day…he started getting YES.

And soon the amount of YES’es doubled the N0’s.

Can you guess what happened to Chad’s HPRO?

Yep…it doubled… in fact…he became the number one Service Advisor in his store. Can you guess what happened to his income?

Yep…it nearly doubled as well.

Chad is still happily employed at that same Dealership…can you guess how his CSI is? Yep…it’s better too!

All of us like to deal with a Trained Professional…someone who can guide us and help us make the right decision based on our needs and wants. Know what else is true?

We will gladly pay for it…and in some cases pay even more. It’s because we all like to be taken care of.

Want to be succesful as a Service Advisor?

Be like Chad.

Get more No’s!

Use the “3T System” to make more money in Fixed Ops.

Making more Money in Fixed Operations is everyone’s goal.

Think not?

Just go tell your Dealer Principal that this month you’ve decided that making money is not important… and see what happens to you, Mr. /Ms. Jobless.

Making money is much easier when you use a system to do it and it is much better than just wishing for more Money. Use the “3T System” to drive more dollars to the bank.

The first T stands for “Tell Everybody” what you want to accomplish this month. It is also called “Create a Compelling Vision” and the more Compelling it is, the more people are drawn to it.

Additionally, it must be specific, memorable and most importantly, reinforced at every opportunity!

It cannot be the same old tired “We need to do better or else!” stuff. They have already heard it before.

If it is, people will just ignore it. Start the month off with a kickoff meeting detailing exactly what it is you must accomplish, what role each person has and how you will be holding people accountable.

Remember, the more specific you are, the better your results!

The second T stands for “Teach me Something New.” Everybody wants to be part of the newest, latest and greatest.

New is fun…New is exciting…New is way better than “old and stale.” Let me give you an example.

When was the last time a you offered to make a sandwich for a guest in your home, and they said to you “Please make mine using old stale bread, month old lunchmeat and could you put some expired mayonnaise on it”?

Not gonna happen. It’s the same way in the Service Department.

People want to feel like they are part of a new challenge and accomplishing new things. Don’t make them a stale old sandwich and expect them to eat it.

Teach them something new about their job, the Customer, the Dealership…anything!

And the last T stands for “Train to Win!”

Bobby Jones said it best when he said “If you fail to get the proper instruction you’ll only get better at making yourself worse.” Train to Win means the best Training by the Best Method yields the Best Results!

Train your personnel using the Best Methods available (like DealerPro VT) and you will consistently improve and reach new Goals!

Looking for a Training Platform accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week? Is on the edge of the latest and greatest? Is recognized by the NADA? Check out DealerPro VT. Click on the link below to get started!