Monthly Archives: April 2012

Original or Commodity-part 2

Most consumers have lumped “service”, whether you are a dealer or an independent repair facility, as a commodity. Which means you compete in a market with everyone else even though the market is not a level playing field.

Customer relationship

Customer relationship (Photo credit: Claudio Cicali)

How do you distinguish yourself from everyone else? How do you stand above the rest?

By providing an experience that the customer can’t stop talking about.

While advertising, facility, market position, location, etc. all have a role in the overall service business development and retention strategy, when the customer comes into the service drive, they still need to talk to someone.

And that “someone” in your dealership is the experience.

When your customer needs to have service on their car they think back and remember what happened the last time they took the vehicle in for service and they form an opinion and make a decision.

So the question is, are your personnel providing the level of service that a customer would remember? Would your customer form a favorable opinion of your service department and their experience? Would they make a decision to come to your service drive? Are you the service department they can’t stop talking about?

When you compete as a commodity, you never see the customer because they pass 6 other repair facilities on the way over to your dealership. In their mind they can get the same level of service there as they could anywhere else.

Distinguish yourself from the rest by having the most professional personnel trained to provide the highest level of service and you will be above the commodity crowd.


Hump Day Inspiration #2: Go, make something happen…

Hump Day Inspiration #2: Go, make something happen….

4 Deeeeezzzz and Spring Cleaning


Desk (Photo credit: Jim Carson)

Spring Cleaning? Ya, me too. If you haven’t taken a look at your work area lately, step back and take it all in.

See that pile of papers on your desk? And those spare parts you were saving for the factory in the corner…how long have they been there? What’s up with that chair with the padding falling out? Are you saving that for someone special?

Hey, this is not limited to the Service Managers office. There are many GM’s and DP’s offices that look pretty darn close to that picture.

In many cases where there is a roadblock to production and profitability you can trace it back to the way a person works. One of the best ways you can get a picture of how that person works is to take a look   at their workstation.

Now, I am the king of clutter. I save tons of notes and ideas for writing and you can often find them piled on my desk. Mostly I keep them on the left side. I also save notes from conversations I have with people I am talking with in regards to their dealership. It helps when you’ve forgotten something to go back and review the notes.

And during a Fixed Ops review at a Dealership I will pile papers and RO’s and statements all around me in separate piles so that I can keep track of what I have examined and what’s next. It is organized and they are neatly stacked.

There is a reason I do it this way which I am going to share with you.

I learned a simple system to keep the clutter down and to stay organized when dealing with massive amounts of communications and papers which we all have to deal with every day.

It’s called the “4 D” system and once you start practicing it, it becomes so easy to do that you stop thinking about it and you just start doing it. Getting started though requires your Discipline to stay with it. That’s the secret “D.”

Ok, there is one rule that makes this whole thing work and here it is.

You cannot put down the paper, part, RO whatever it is you are dealing with until something happens to it. Pretend that it has been glued to your hand and the only thing that will take it off is Action!

Now, here are the D’s.

Decide, Delegate, Dump and the last one Delay.

So, you are standing in front of your desk. There is a pile of paper on the corner that has enough dust on it to refill the Sahara desert. Pick up the top paper. It is now glued to your hand. You read it. Suddenly you remember you dealt with this a week ago and this paper is not even relevant anymore.

You just used the first D…Decide. Everything needs a Decision and there is no better time than now. If you don’t need it, where does it go? Round file.

That’s the D for Dump.

If you don’t need it, get rid of it. If you are feeling a little unsure about all of the Dumping going on, determine if whatever you are holding in your hand can be recreated electronically. In other words, is this stored somewhere in your DMS? Is it a pdf file? Is it an email you have saved? Can you put your hands on it later with the help of modern science?

If so, why do you need it on your desk?

(Important tip… have the wastebasket handy.)

Now pick up the next one and do the same. They key to making this work is taking Action before the paper leaves your hand.

If you are going to Delegate, be ready to explain what you want done specifically or in a short minute or two you’ll find that paper back in your in-box.

What you will find is that the Dump file will fill up pretty quickly. Most of what needs to take place in your Dealership has already happened without that important piece of paper or part on your desk or in your office. In other words, it became clutter.

Studies have shown that the most productive people get the most done when they have a system to deal with the daily communication and paper that cross their desk almost immediately. If you feel like nothing is getting done or you are spinning your wheels, take a look at what your desk and workstation look like and see if that thought process begins with your clutter.

A brief comment about the Dangerous D… Delay.

If you are going to Delay something, you need to put a timer on it. By timer, I mean it needs to go into a file that has an Action date either by days out (like 30 days) or by month. If you can get it down to month and date, more power to you.

That means that whatever you a Delaying will require an Action later. It does not mean “fuggetboutit.” That’s why you put a timer on it. It will eventually go “ding” and you will need to take some Action.

If you find yourself putting more in Delay than what you put into Dump…you might be a packrat. Take a deep breath, go back through the pile, determine if you have it stored somewhere and then toss it. It’s ok.

The same goes for the parts, the old chair, the broken credenza with the door hanging off and oh…the note board with notes on it from 1993. Clutter. Use a D on it and get it cleaned up.

In a day or two (for some of you a week or two), you will find a work station that you can find things and get things done. Now that you have learned that system, start applying it to daily communications. Decide, Delegate, Dump or Delay.

Mix those Deeezzz up with your Discipline you can become more productive and get more Done.

There is too much waiting


Waiting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t you think there is too much waiting going on? I don’t mean the kind of waiting we do for a burger at the local drive thru or waiting for the mail to arrive.

And it’s not the other kind of waiting we do these days “plugged in” as we are.

Heck, we all know that in this “electronic” age, society is way too fast and by being so, has turned us into petulant whiner babies when it takes an extra millisecond to download the “game of the week” into our phone.

Not that kind of waiting.

It’s a different kind of waiting and it is keeping your Dealership from becoming profitable.

Did you know that we are the only species on the planet that will wait for a favorable outcome with little more than the faint a wisp of hope? It’s true.

It’s why we play the lotto. Did you buy a ticket in the recent mega-millions game…the one worth over 600 Million dollars?  Me too.

That is waiting for a favorable outcome based on hope. How did it turn out for you? Same as me?

I didn’t win either. And while this kind of “hope” might be great for the lotto, it has absolutely no business in your business.

Let me show you what I mean.

You have had or know someone who has one right now…the underperforming Service Advisor. Maybe it’s an underperforming Sales person.  Hey, dare I say it, maybe an underperforming General Manager.

Anyways, this person is working in your Dealership. And because I have a special place in my heart for Fixed Ops, let’s look at what waiting based on hope does for your underperforming Service Advisor.

Every day you come in and there he or she sits. And in your mind you picture the day that Fred or Sally suddenly “gets it.” They start following a write-up process. They begin to use a script and become experts at answering the phone and making appointments. They become expert Sales people by using the simplest of Sales processes called a “feature/benefit” presentation and start increasing their close ratio on additional service requests.

And each day nothing happens. They do not become better at anything. They continue to do the same things day in and day out.

You? You are waiting for something to happen that causes a change that results in a different outcome based on this hope.  How’s that working for you?

There is one other problem waiting for that problem to correct itself. Your Advisor does not know they need to change. I’ll bet my lotto ticket on it.

In fact, if I was in your store and I asked them how they think they are performing their duties as a Service Advisor, what do you think their answer to me would be?

If you are the Service Manager and Fred or Sally is working for you, you are living the “waiting for a favorable outcome based on hope” in your store right now.  This is akin to watching the sky for a rainbow and running to the end of it anticipating a pot of gold.

Let me ask you this. What are the odds that Fred or Sally will suddenly become the Service Advisor you want them to be merely because you are “hoping” for a change?

Your next step is one that requires Action.

Taking Action to address known deficiencies in behavior and performance will get results when hope plus waiting will not.

If Fred or Sally is working for you, do these 3 things immediately and you will have immediate results.

1st, identify the level of performance acceptable for employment at your Dealership for a Service Advisor. Is it 1.8 HPRO with a Gross Profit Margin of 73% Labor and 41% Parts, an EFL of 85% of door rate and a CSI rating above the zone? I don’t know what it should be in your store. That’s for you to decide.

But keep in mind; whatever level of performance you decide is the minimum acceptable level of performance that only keeps them employed.

2nd, counsel with Fred or Sally and tell them what the minimum level of performance is, what your expectations are, lay out the next steps they need to take to remain a member of your team and ask them if there is any reason they cannot meet those objectives.

3rd, monitor and coach daily based on your personal observations, the results from the previous days performance and the overall effort they put into their duties.

This Action will guarantee a result. No question. You will get an Advisor who can and will do the job the way it is supposed to be done in your store. Whether or not it is Fred or Sally remains to be seen.

There is too much waiting going on these days and it’s the wrong kind of waiting. Take Action, set some performance levels, begin counseling your Advisors and start monitoring for results.

If after reading this you decide to not do anything and wait for something to change based on “hope”, I’ve got a used lotto ticket for sale. Send me an email.

Webinar on Thursday; 4 Essentials to Achieving 100% Service Absorption

The 4 Essentials to Achieving 100% Service Absorption are: 1.) Improve Profit Margins 2.) Increase Sales per RO 3.) Increase the number of RO’s 4.) Control Expenses. This workshop provides a guide to developing a “Business Plan” for achieving 100% Service Absorption focusing on management processes that will enable every dealer to increase net profits.

The Plan will focus on profit building techniques and marketing strategies for the service and parts departments that will increase sales and build Owner Retention while minimizing expenses.

Webinar attendees will learn their “true potential for profit improvement” by utilizing the 4 Essentials to 100% Service Absorption.

Join Don Reed, CEO of DealerPro Training for a Digital Dealer webinar sponsored by Dealer Pro Training on the four essentials to achieving 100% service absorption on Thursday, April 12, 11:30 a.m. EST/10:30 a.m. Central/8:30 a.m. Pacific.

What dealers will learn from the webinar:

–How to sell more appointments.

–How to increase hours per retail repair order.

–How to utilize a marketing planner to increase owner retention.

How to build a “Business Plan” for achieving 100% Service Absorption

About DealerPro Training: DealerPro’s Performance Driven Training program has helped hundreds of dealers across the nation increase their Service Gross Profits by up to 40% or more. Dealers can achieve 100% Service Absorption and 2.5 hours per customer-pay R.O. while increasing CSI. DealerPro provides in-dealership hands-on training. A one-week installation & training for service advisors and managers, is followed up with monthly in-person monitoring and training to assure dealers are achieving the best results possible. Typically, a dealer can increase Service Gross Profits by $200,000 or more. 

Don Reed is CEO of DealerPro Training. After 26 years in the automobile business as a Dealer, GM, Sales Manager, Service Manager, Service Advisor and Salesperson, Don Reed, CEO of DealerPro Training, decided to start a new career as a Consultant and Trainer, “turning around” dealerships that were in need of building their profits. As CEO of DealerPro Training, Don has worked with hundreds of dealerships and major dealer groups across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom to increase profits in Fixed Operations. He’s been published in AutoDealer Monthly, AutoSuccess, Fixed Ops, Dealer, RV Executive and RVPRO magazines and has conducted workshops for NADA 20 Groups, state Dealer Associations, OEM’s, RVDA Convention and has been rated a Top 10 Speaker at the NADA convention.

It’s been 60 days.

Picture I made for my goals article

Picture I made for my goals article (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been 60 days.

You had every intention of making changes and doing something different. You had all of the information gathered and cataloged. You even made a list of all of the Managers and their responsibilities and revised their Goals based on the information and training you were about to provide them.

You were ready for Success! You had new expectations! You were ready to accomplish new Goals.

You were ready to reap the benefits of attending the NADA Convention. There was MONEY to be made and you and your Dealership were ready to MAKE it!

What happened?

It’s been 60 days.

What changes have been effected? What new Training has occurred? How have your expectations been met? What new Goals have been accomplished? How much more MONEY have you made?

If you are like a lot of people…the answer is None.  Nothing has changed.

The new material you took the time to gather that leads to Training that leads to new processes that leads to new habits that leads to accomplishing new Goals has been “short circuited” like a downed power line in a swimming pool.


There are a million reasons it didn’t happen. With all due respect, none of them matter right now. It’s what you do from this moment forward that makes the difference.

Go get the material, get the vendors names phone number and web addresses, call who you need to call, get lined up what you need to get lined up, get your Managers in the room, and start making changes.

Start the meeting with your expectations; end the meeting with NEW GOALS!

It’s been 60 days.

Don’t make it another 60 days until something happens.

Are you a dog in a cat world?

A dog and a cat were recently having a conversation about how each other looks at the world.

They had been friends a long time and the dog had recently been promoted to the title of Service Manager of his Dealership. The cat had stopped by for a visit and to congratulate her friend on his recent promotion. And, as Managers are prone to do, they began to discuss how each run their own Service Departments. Let’s listen in to the conversation.

“I tell you, it ain’t easy being the dog” the dog said somewhat mournfully. “Especially when you are put in charge of the Service Department. I mean, I wanted to be promoted but I guess I wasn’t really thinking about all of the stuff ya gotta do.”

“For example, I have to get started on improving the Customers perception of our Service Department. Our CSI is a big problem. For some reason, we don’t do very well with cat Customers” he said while glancing somewhat anxiously at the cat.

He continued lamenting and the cat continued listening somewhat attentively, as cats are prone to do. “I mean sure, we can bark and run fast, but is it enough to satisfy all of our Customers?” Suddenly he was quiet for a bit, his brow furrowed in thought. The cat waited patiently.

After a few moments, with a loud, bold bark he declared “I am in charge of this Service Department and things are going to be different around here starting right now!”  This surprised the cat…slightly…and with a mildly bored voice put forth the following question “So, what are you going to do?”

At this point the dog got very excited. He started running around wildly, stopping to gesture with his paws and pointing emphatically “Over there we can put in an automatic bone and treat dispenser, with paw control. Then any dog could just walk up; put your paw down on the control, and Bam! a bone or a treat would shoot out!”

The he pointed another paw and said “Over there I am going to put in a big spray shower, one that would let you get a drink or get wet. If you get wet you could either run around to get dry or lie on the grass over there and get warm in the sun.”

The cat now became interested, as she began to realize there did not seem to be any facilities or amenities to her liking. The dog was on a roll, however and continued to bark, getting more and more excited, as dogs are prone to do.

“And over there would be the BIGGEST fire hydrant! I would paint it yellow and then all the other dogs would gather around to meet and greet, you know, like dogs do, sniffing everything and everybody.” At this the cat wrinkled her nose and said in a somewhat miffed voice “It does not sound very nice to me.”

The dog was incredulous.

He could not believe what he had heard. “I can’t believe what you just said! Are you saying that you would not like this new Service Area?!!! I mean, c’mon, it’s got EVERYTHING! Bones, treats, water sprayer and play area, with a meet and greet hydrant! What’s not to like?” he asked.

“Well, since you asked” the cat said as she uncurled and stretched, while arching her back and massaging the floor with her paws. (Cats take a long time to get started talking)

“I know you dogs like bones and treats (“and quite a lot of them I might add” she said under her breath), but we cats like small treats in small dishes, so we can munch when we want. We don’t mind waiting if we can take our time eating” she said. “And the water sprayer sounds neat and all, but we don’t like to get wet very much.” She continued disdainfully “And the meet and greet hydrant, well that’s just ….yuck.”

The dog was flabbergasted. In fact, he was so stunned, his ears popped up and he tilted his head, as some dogs do. But, he kept quiet and listened respectfully.

“Now if you were to ask me” she said as she started to slowly walk around “If this were my Service Department, I think over here would be a wonderful place to curl up on a chair while I am waiting.” Then she sauntered over to a sunny spot in the waiting room and said “It would be nice to have a nice warm cushion here, instead of grass to lie on outside.”

She then walked over to another area and said “And over here would be a wonderful place to have a pole for climbing with a flat upper landing to lie on and pounce down on your friends when playing.”

The dog realized he had not considered climbing, since dogs don’t climb very well. However, he was now listening intently as dogs are very good at listening.

“And instead of a sniffing and greeting area, cats prefer quiet areas we can stay in and greet if we like.” the cat said. “That’s the type of Service Department I like and would do business with. One that that caters to cats.”

The dog then realized how different they each perceived the world. The conversation with the cat caused him to think about all the things that made them different. Then the dog had a great thought. What about all the things that made them similar? Surely there were some things they had in common!

Dog and Cat Underwater

Dog and Cat Underwater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The dog then made a list of all that he could think of that he had in common with the cat.  Amazingly, he found that many of the same things that dogs like, cats like.

For example, dogs and cats like a warm area to keep dry when it rains, both like fresh water, both like good friends and family, both like straightforward communications with everyone and both liked someone to listen to them when they had something to say.

Using this list as a springboard, the dog made some adjustments to his vision. (With input from the cat, of course.)

Instead of a water park, they decided to have a large pool of water, with a separate area to get a drink. That way all of the dogs could play in the water while allowing cats to get a drink and not get wet.

For the bone and treat bar, they decided to have separate dispensers. The cats got a dispenser that let a few treats fall into a small dish. The dogs got a dispenser that allowed them to get as many bones or treats as they wanted. Later, the dog had to change the rules and declare a “one bone, one dog” rule. (Dogs are like that)

They then placed cushions in comfortable areas in quiet places, which were warm and bright. They also had a play area with lots of grass for running around and barking. As for the BIG fire hydrant, they decided that a more subtle approach was needed, and had an enclosed “area” for the dogs to meet and greet and a separate “hide and wait area” for the cats.

When they were done, the dog and cat looked at the finished Customer Service area, and decided it met both their needs.

Are you a dog running a cat store? Have you looked at your Customers needs and wants? And have you asked them what they would like? Maybe you have been barking instead of purring? Take a fresh look. Use the similar and different lists to find areas that need attention.

Once you have built the list, use it to refine and define your vision. Focus your efforts on the items that have the most potential for bridging the gap between the types of customers you normally serve. Some may want quiet areas or more amenities.

You may find in your investigation that you need to upgrade the skill level of key employees to meet the needs of the Customers you serve, especially in regards to communications. Or maybe it’s as simple as adding a lounge area with internet access.

Whatever area you need to address, start with input from Customers and employees alike. Soon, all of your Customers will be tail wagging and purring.