Helpful…or Professional…which of these sound better?
If you are like a lot of Dealers and General Managers hiring “helpful” people always seems to be the right call. The belief is that you can develop someone into becoming a Professional. While I don’t disagree with this practice, what I find all across the country is the opposite of helpful or Professional.
Because we train all across the country, we have exposure to every make and model of vehicle in every kind of Dealership, whether it is a locally owned single point, multi-line point or large Dealer Group.
And when we train invariably, we get to the point in the training that we ask the Advisor “How do you see yourself as an Advisor” or we might ask “What is your role in working with the Customer?”
And 9 times out of 10 the answer comes wrapped up with a bow in a package labeled “I want to be helpful” or “I want to help the Customer and give the best possible Customer service.” This answer is of course not only the expected answer but the accepted answer. And it has absolutely nothing to do with helping the Customer.
In fact, I submit to you that being “helpful” is exactly what we don’t need in a Dealership.
The reason I say that is because in every single case where I have an Advisor who is trying to be “helpful” to his or her Customers, they have become the exact opposite. They have become “un-helpful” and in most cases a liability.
Let me explain.
Helpful Advisors share 3 common characteristics.
- They make decisions for their Customers without asking the Customer what they (the Customer) would like to do.
- They make judgments about their Customers based on past experiences and fail to honor the word “Advisor” which is part of their job title.
- They are poor Salespeople with poor communication skills and non-existent processes.
Helpful Advisors make decisions for their Customers like not telling them everything that is wrong with their vehicles, instead just telling them what they think the Customer wants to hear.
They do not offer additional services during the write-up process and never present a menu. They have become in effect the same as the person whom we call an “order taker” at your local dry cleaners or fast food restaurant.
Professional Advisors make no decisions for their Customers at all. They Advise them on everything the vehicle needs, recommend additional services they know will be beneficial for the Customer and present a menu at the time of write up. They take the time to explain everything to the Customer so the Customer can decide what they would like to have done on their vehicle.
Helpful Advisors make judgments about their Customers based on the past.
If Mrs. Jones came in 2 years ago and Doubtful Dan tried to make an Additional Service Recommendation and was shot down by Mrs. Jones with the “I can’t afford it today”, Doubtful Dan now assumes that Mrs. Jones can never afford any additional repairs and stops telling her that there are additional services needed in order to maintain a safe and reliable vehicle.
The next time Mrs. Jones comes in for an oil change, Doubtful Dan is surprised to learn she has new brakes and tires.
Doubtful Dan then asks Mrs. Jones “Where did you have the repairs completed?” and Mrs. Jones replies “Right down the street at Bob’s Big Boy Service Center. After the last visit here my grandson stopped by to visit me and said ‘Grandma, you should have your tires checked’ and of course I asked Timmy (my grandson) ‘Why?’ and he said ‘One of your tires has some wear on the edge Grandma.’”
She continues “Well, I just happened to have some free time later that day and popped in at Bob’s and they said ‘Sure we can take a look at it’ and next thing I know they told me that the tires were needing replacement and I said ‘Are you sure, because I just had it in a ABC Motors and they didn’t say anything’ and they showed me the worn tires and wouldn’t you know it, when they took off the tires, the brakes were worn down too.”
In the car business this is known as “Someone just ate your lunch.”
Professional Advisors do not make judgments. They Advise. They take all the recommendations from the repair order, prioritize them from most important to least important and then tell the Customer everything they need to know about maintaining their vehicle. They let the Customer decide.
Lastly, Helpful Advisors are invariably poor Salespeople who do not keep up on their skills and they do not use any Sales Processes because they want to “be natural and not robotic.”
Let me ask you this and you tell me if it sounds crazy.
When was the last time the General Manager stood up in the Sales meeting and said “From this day forward, Salespeople do not need to log their ups. You do not need to touch the desk and you do not need to complete a walkaround and test drive with the Customer. You can do what you feel is natural.”
And every day in the Service Drive we have Helpful Advisors who do the exact same thing. They don’t follow a process, they don’t communicate the benefits of maintaining the vehicle to their Customer and they don’t develop their skill sets.
Professional Advisors use tools like processes, like menus, like Listening Skills, etc. to help them make the Customers service experience the best it can be. They want the Customer to make informed decisions based on the recommendations and vehicle maintenance needs.
So, look around your Service Department. Ask yourself “Are my Service Advisors helpful or Professional?” and decide for yourself which of these is the better choice for your Dealership.
Written by Leonard Buchholz