Category Archives: Training

7 Strategies for Your Fixed Operations “Space Race”

I was thinking this morning about how rockets and Fixed Operations Customer Management are related. With all the news about the different companies striving to become the next NASA, it reminded me that we are all in a “Space Race” even though I know that the two subjects seem completely unrelated and are not even in the same Encyclopedia volume.

And I submit for your consideration that driving a rocket into space and good Customer Service Management is exactly the same. Let me explain why.

Your Fixed Operations Service Business is your rocket ship. In this ship is everything you need to survive when venturing into the hostile environment that is the Customer Service space. In your ship (Service Department) you will find all of your life support systems, everything you need like electrical power, data bases, computer systems and communications.

You communicate with your Customers using phones, text, email and even person to person interaction to get them the information you need so they can give back to you course direction. Things like “Yes, go ahead and repair my brakes and rotate my tires” are course corrections for your Advisor and Techs.

Communications and course corrections are just as critical in your business as they are in the space business. You can’t go anywhere unless you know which direction you are going.

Pretty cool, huh. You were driving a rocket ship the whole time and you just thought you were at work.

There is one other element to consider that is the same in space flight as well as your Customer Service Department. It’s the people flying your rocket ship and what they do every day. So, I’d like to tell a little story about the space travel business (and Fixed Operations) and how monkeys become astronauts.

As the space race was starting, it became apparent that eventually someone was going to have to strap in, flip the switch and ride a burst of hot flaming gasses from earth into space and achieve orbit.nasarocket

In the beginning, there was a lot of concern regarding the effects of flying what is essentially a roman candle, into space. Not wanting to risk human life unnecessarily, the idea was floated to teach a monkey to ride in the rocket, thereby getting the data necessary to facilitate safe human flight. (Can you imagine the conversation around that conference table? “We’ve just spent a gazillion dollars on these rockets and we need someone to test fly them.” From the back of the room a tiny voice shouts out “We can get a monkey to do it!”)

So the call went out, find a monkey to go to space. Now we have continents full of monkeys, however, it’s doubtful any of them had seen a rocket much less flown one or even had any idea they were going to learn how to fly. They are monkeys after all.monkeysinspace

As the search started, it became apparent that we would need to set a few standards in place. We had to find acceptable monkeys. We had to train them. They had to be able to complete some simple tasks, pull a few levers, push a few buttons and survive the trip back to earth.

We found acceptable monkeys, trained them and then sent them. It was a Success…except for one thing. We couldn’t get the monkeys to tell us how the ride was, what they experienced and most importantly, what did they learn.

Why go to space if you can’t learn?

After all of the experiments were over, and we had all of the data, we went out and found the best pilots and asked them if they wanted to become astronauts. We had a very stringent selection process that filtered out those that would not make it in the harsh environment of space. We instituted a long intensive training program to make sure that the astronauts could fly rocket ships and respond appropriately in case of an emergency. We then edified the position to attract even more talented pilots who wished to become astronauts. (Who didn’t want to be an astronaut growing up?) We didn’t recruit or train any more monkeys. We found that we had all that we needed.

Nice story. What does that have to do with Fixed Operations Customer Service Management?

Well, I have a few questions to answer your question, Customer Service Professional.

Did the monkey actually “fly” the rocket or just ride around in it and complete a few tasks?

In your business, are your people flying your rocket, or just riding around pulling a few levers and pushing a few buttons?

Are you searching the continent for monkeys or astronauts? Are you training monkeys or astronauts in your store?

Take a look at the list of seven strategies for your space adventure next year. 311-hey-you

1. Key people in key positions need to be fully trained in the operation of your rocket ship.

2. Astronauts make better pilots than monkeys. Hire the right people.

3. Pulling levers and pushing buttons does not make a monkey a pilot. If they are a monkey, give them monkey duties. If they are a pilot, let them fly the ship.

4. You can train a monkey to only do so much. Then you need an astronaut.

5. Astronauts need to have a destination to fly to. (Set Goals)

6. If you keep flying the ship, no one else learns to be a pilot. They become monkeys.

7. Everyone likes a monkey until there is a crisis. Then they don’t want them.

For the new year is your course set? Do you have astronauts or monkeys?

By Leonard Buchholz

(The original article was posted here: and written by me)


3 Key Components of Outstanding Service Departments

When examining the best service departments across the country, you often find that they all share common best practices that create additional service sales and gross profits for their dealerships.

These best practices combined with daily monitoring, observation and coaching results in professional sales organizations that can sustain a dealer during times of slow sales or downturns in the economy.

One of the most overlooked skill sets in dealers that struggle with decreasing repair order count is service phone sales skills. While you would be hard pressed to find people who do not have the ability to be courteous and project a good image on the phone, it is easy to find personnel who have not been trained to sell service appointments.

One phone survey company* found that service advisors do not offer appointments or attempt to sell an appointment on 57% of the calls they field even though the opportunity sell an appointment presented itself.

If this is happening in your dealership and your service team fields an average of 100 information calls a day, it means there are 57 missed opportunities, every single day. A properly trained Advisor can be expected to convert 30% of those calls (or more) into service appointments.

So the question is, what would your service drive look like with an additional 17 service appointments every day?

Once you’ve trained and coached on phone sales skills you can then begin to train on Advisor communications skills. This is another area that the most successful dealerships continually monitor and coach their employees to near perfection.

Communications skills are not only important to Customer Satisfaction Index scores, they are critical in Customer retention. Advisors that have weak listening skills and a complete lack of follow through on promises, become the source of nearly every Customer complaint registered at your dealership.5waystoincrease

One Advisor will interact with an average of 10-15 Customers per day. Based on that number, one untrained Advisor can impact 44 Customers a month in such a way as they could possibly decide not to come back.

If your store sells 150 cars a month, and your retention is in the mid-range of 40-50%, you can expect a net gain of 31 new car Customers a month from your 150 sales in the front end.

Does it make sense not to train your Advisor in communications skills when so much is dependent on him/her being a professional in every sense of the word? Of course not.

Lastly, those dealers that are doing it right have a complete marketing plan in place. They make a decision to budget funds for service marketing based on repair order count while taking into consideration recalls, campaigns and industry trends.

Recently there has been a flood of recalls that have not left any manufacturer on the sidelines. Many dealerships took advantage of those recalls by highlighting their ability to service their Customers while attracting new business through strategic traditional marketing as well as social marketing.

And they have “hit it out of the park.”

Not only did they service their own Customers, they were able to attract new business with the goal of converting then to regular service Customers. Take an average dealer writing 45 repair orders a day, factor in about a 30% warranty repair order write-up rate, adjust for “just recall” warranty repairs of about 30-40% from that warranty rate, and your team has the chance to make 3 or 4 recall Customers into regular service Customers every day.

So the question is, did you want to allocate funds for marketing, train for opportunities and coach for results…or did you just want to keep doing what you’ve always done and keep getting what you’ve always got?

Make a commitment to your service team and follow through with sales training, communication skills training and a marketing budget in line with your stated Goals and watch your Profits soar!

by Leonard Buchholz

The Service Advisor’s “6 Steps to Happy Bank Deposits”

Here is a simple way to make more every month.
It’s called the “6 Steps to Happy Bank Deposits” and it goes like this.

1st, write down what you make per month right now.

Your position in life is determined by what you believe.

Your position in life is determined by what you believe.

2nd, write down what you want to make per month. (Be Realistic) This is a crucial first step because if you don’t make a personal commitment to make a change in how you think about your income then you can’t make the income you desire. 
3rd, determine your Sales per Transaction. If you write an average of 180 Customer Pay Repair Orders per month and you average $45,000.00 dollars a month in Customer Pay Sales, each Repair Order you write is worth $250.00.
4th, decide what amount of increase you would like on each Repair Order. Write it down and be Realistic. Post it where you can see it everyday. Think of it as building a staircase. You can’t jump to the top of the staircase…you have to take each step one at a time. Make a commitment to yourself to increase by a specific dollar amount…say $25.00 on each Repair Order. 
5th, increase your Sales per Transaction by using the Tools (Menu, Multi-point Inspection, Maintenance Recommendations) and Techniques (Feature/Benefit Sales Presentation, Professional Sales Skills) to Communicate Effectively to the Customer the Information they need to Maintain their Vehicle in a Safe and Reliable operating condition.
6th, Deposit New Income from following these steps.

Set Goals, Be Successful!

By Leonard Buchholz

Training Like You Want It, Like You Need It!


8 Profit Building Workshops, 2 Profit Building Days

                    Dealers – General Managers – Fixed Ops Directors – Service Managers

Here’s What You Get:

Train To WIN Workshop Schedule / Titles

Day 1

8:30-10:30          “The Four Essentials to Achieving 100% Service Absorption”

10:45-12:00    “Converting Service Leads to Sold Services”

1:00- 3:00    “The Power of Quick Lube Operations”

3:15-5:00    “Managing the Essential Eight Controllables”

Day Two

8:30-10:30    “The Three Rules for Maximizing Marketing ROI”

10:45-12:00    “Keeping Your Customers Engaged Online”

1:00-3:00    “Pro Performance20 Group Top 20 Ideas”

3:15-5:00    “Build Your Profit Improvement Plan”

* Includes: 8 Workbooks, Continental Breakfast and Lunch Each Day

Get signed up! Send an email to, get the signup form and get the Training!

DealerPro Training

1020 Taylor Station Road

Gahanna, OH 43230


Phone: (888) 553-0100

Fax: (614) 471-8306

Did you THRIVE or SURVIVE in 2012?

By Leonard Buchholz

Every year about this time we begin to contemplate. What was our final score for 2012? How did we end up? Did we just SURVIVE or did we THRIVE?

For most of you, that reality was written months ago and on the 10th of January you’ll be reading the results you already suspect.

You may even be feeling some anticipation (much like a kid on Christmas morning).

For those of you who spent more time on the “naughty side of retail life” you are hoping for a miracle to turn poor effort and lack of accountability into a Kodak perfect picture moment when you open your present (EOY Financial)…only get ready for the stinky picture…the one with the sad tear-streaked face when you finally tear open your package of coal.

And for the rest of you…”Smile!” click…click…click post it to FB ‘cause you got a HappyFace!

So, the real question is, did you THRIVE in O12 or did you just SURVIVE O12?

Here are 3 Thrive/Survive Reality Checks for you to contemplate right now.

Did you have a significant increase in Service Customer Pay Gross Profit? Let’s define significant. Was your increase at least 20% or more? Before I get a slew of “Hey, we got ___(fill in the blank) and it was significant to us” emails, you have realize that any organization that experiences an increase in Gross Profit, whether they are selling soup or nuts, that is greater than the year before would consider it “significant”, “fantastic”, “beyond expectations”…you get the point.

It just so happens that 20% is considered significant and noteworthy (and all that other stuff) because most of the business world runs on extremely small margins and mucho dinero is made every day in this  country by people smarter than me betting on the tiniest increase and decrease in those margins.

Imagine what a day at the stock market would look like if the Fortune 500 companies all reported a 20% increase in Gross Profits. Wow.

So, yes, 8, 10, even 18% is a nice number when it comes to a Gross Profit increase. But 20% and above is pretty damn significant.

Those dealerships that are thriving…INCREASE! Those that are surviving…SAME! So, I have to ask the question, did you start 2012 with the Goal of staying the SAME or did you want an INCREASE in Service Customer Pay Gross Profit?

Next Thrive/Survive Reality Check is your Service Customer Pay RO Count. In 2012, did you INCREASE your Customer Pay RO Count or did it just stay the SAME?

2012 will be a pretty good Sales year when all the numbers are tallied. Last I read, total sold units in 2012 will be somewhere north of 14 million and represents an overall increase of nearly 14%. 2011 was not all that bad (relatively speaking and compared to previous years) when it hit over 11 and a half million units sold. So, that would indicate that based on these numbers, there are additional Service Customers in the marketplace looking for a Service Facility.

Which begs the question, where did all of the Customers from 2011 and the first 6 months of 2012 go for Service? Was it your Dealership? If not, why not? What is keeping the Customer you worked so hard to sell from coming into your Service Drive for Service?

In every Dealer that we complete a Profit Potential Analysis and review the previous 2 years of RO Counts, I can honestly say that in my experience, there is always room for growth. In fact, I do not believe I have heard any Dealer Principal say “No thanks to increasing the Customer Pay RO Count in our store, we have enough.”

So if you have not had at least a 10% INCREASE in Customer Pay RO Count in 2012, that would be an excellent place to begin your Goal Setting Process for 2013.

Lastly, have you had an INCREASE in CSI or stayed the SAME? Honestly, the CSI Score is without a doubt, the craziest number ever to have been invented to measure a Dealerships performance. Sometimes it can feel like you are trying to hit a mouse in a hurricane with a beach ball.

And many Dealerships consider it a Success just to maintain “Zone Average.” I get it. But the Dealerships that are THRIVING have invested themselves into a new thought process when it comes to CSI…changing the “gottadoit” to the “wantadoit” and the P-step Program “Process,Participation,Prevention” and making a difference in their CSI Score.

SURVIVING means every week/month when the new scores come out, the Service Manager and General Manager have a moment referred to as “Show-me-the-money-or-get-out-the-honey.” Either you hit the numbers or you start spreadin’ the honey. It can be fun in a kinda “You bet your job” sorta way, I guess.

Take a minute on the morning of Jan 10th to consider and ponder and contemplate 2012. Look for other areas you consider vital and important to your business, your Dealership. And take a look at the three areas we just talked about, Service Gross Profit, Customer Pay RO Count and CSI.

As the zero one three business year kicks off in your store and you are starting to write your Goals are you thinking of SURVIVING or THRIVING?

My best guess is you have started to consider THRIVING the year away. Thrivein2013

Would you like a 30% increase in Service Sales?

Lost Sales and Declined Services Customers are in many Dealerships, the largest untapped source of additional revenue. And in most cases, the Sale has been lost because of a few words and not a few dollars.

Trained Advisors Make More Sales!

Advisors who have been trained and coached are the best people to contact those customers, Advisors who are trained, coached and who care are better.

Take John Q. here. He is an excellent example. He has been working at ABC Motors for 7 years. He has an average close ratio at 28%. So, 3 times out of ten, he is able to make the sale on additional recommendations from the Technicians. 7 of his customers have decided to “wait” or “I’ll get it next time” or “I have to talk to my ______” or another of the many excuses we hear every day.

John Q. sometimes calls them back in a day or two or sometimes sends them an email. Most of the time he relies on the CDR/CDM and the DMS system to follow-up with the customer and send them a reminder card or offer them a discount to come back in.

John Q. has been doing this for 7 years. That is around 5000 or so Lost Sales.

What if John was able to convert just 2 more customers per day from a Lost Sale into a RO? His sales would increase nearly 30%. Every Service Manager on the planet would like a 30% increase in sales.

John needs a couple of things. He needs a script to learn and follow until he gets good at following up with the customer and making a case for why his dealership would be a great place for Mr./Ms. Customer to have the repair work completed.

He needs a process whereby he identifies and tracks all of his Lost Sales and CDR/CDM recommendations. He needs Training and Coaching on his results.

And he needs to be monitored. Daily!

Now take the above example and add in the newest software/CRM system that facilitates John’s communications with the customer while explaining the reason they should have that work completed and “BOOM!” goes the Service Sales Increase!

By Leonard Buchholz

Looking for the building blocks of Service Sales so you ca build your Service Business? Go to and see how you can start the construction process!

Techno me, Train me or Tank me…which is it?

It is an age old diametrically opposed argument. On one side, we have technology. On the other side, we have personnel.

I can’t sell anything without a great Multipoint Inspection.
I can’t sell anything without a professional Sales Process.
I must have both in order to be effective.

In recent years there has been a migration to technology because we have come to expect that our Dealerships will be modern, fully equipped Service Centers that have the best tools and equipment because that’s the image that has been built through extended advertising.

It’s also why people have come to believe that going to the Dealer is always more expensive.

What has happened (IMHO) is that technology has become a crutch to be used instead of a professional Sales process and effective person to person communication skills. And becomes the scapegoat when the technology does not produce the Sale.

If I had to choose between the two, I’ll choose the professional Sales Process and Communication Skills because our business is still a person to person elbow rubbing “Hey, how are you doing?” smile on your face take care of the Customer business.

If you have a Service Department that is staffed with people and not extraterrestrial aliens or vampires, then they can be trained to present Multipoint Inspections using a Sales Process that produces consistent results.

In fact, over the past 11 years, we have been dong this very same thing in Service Departments all across the country and have helped them produce dramatic and spectacular results…using the same technology (Electronic MPI, Electronic Menus, Electronic write up, On line Appointment Scheduling, CRM Software, you name it…)  that was already in place and did not generate the expected results because they are simply tools when it comes right down to it.

The perfect example of the difference between training and technology exists in our own collective history. Remember OBDII? What happened when “Software Download” and “Electronic Diagnostics” took over our industry? In the beginning, there was a period of time when the plug in connector was viewed as a precursor to volcanoes and the return of the dinosaurs. The end of the world!

We had to train all of our Technicians to use the new technology. When we completed that re-training, our success in diagnosing the vehicle and repairing it the first time increased dramatically. (Which coincidentally has lead to a considerable decrease in warranty repair work.)

But there was still the Customer.

Why didn’t all of this new technology which made concerns easier to diagnose, lead to a decrease in defects per sold unit and increase the reliability (to name a few of the benefits), lead to an automatic increase in CSI, increased retention and more maintenance visits at the Dealership?

Because you can’t train a computer to smile, ask how you are doing, make a friend, build a relationship, remember their preferences, make recommendations based on priorities, remember that they are always your Customer and not a problem to be dealt with and lastly, you can’t teach a computer or build a software application that has Pride and Professionalism.

That is why you still need a smiling, professional Service Advisor.

Hey, you can keep paying those monthly fees for “stuff that don’t work” or give us a call. It’s up to you.