Tag Archives: Education and 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: http://EzineArticles.com/416202 and written by me)

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Processes Save Lives

Processes save lives. It’s true. It is especially true when you are lying in a hospital bed with a doctor and a nurse talking to you about how their processes will save your life…which was where I found myself in the not too distant past.

Saving a customer's life begins with processes.

Saving a customer’s life begins with processes.

Actually, I found it rather odd that I was being talked to about processes. Usually, I was the one explaining why a process, when properly implemented, would save a customer’s life. (Not to mention the dealership’s life.)

So, there I lay. “We are going to check your vitals every 2 hours until you have made some progress.” That seemed reasonable to me. I might have needed a little extra monitoring to get well. It made total sense.

In our business, whether it is called checking the vitals or touching base, it is a necessary function of the Service Department. It doesn’t matter if the customer is in the waiting room or at home/work, you need to put them on a regular schedule of checking their “vitals”.

Let me ask you this. If you were to check on your customers in the waiting room on a similar schedule, would that save your CSI score? What about saving the customer all of those feelings they get when they are waiting…like “What’s taking so long?” and “Why hasn’t someone come to talk to me?”

More importantly, how would frequent status checks impact your Sales per Repair Order? I think a customer that feels like they are being paid attention to would be more receptive to hearing about what you have to say about their vehicle.

One thing about getting a consult in the ER or a hospital room is the consideration for your privacy. As you may know (once you are admitted) you get to wear a hospital gown that leaves you feeling vulnerable and exposed to the world.

Additionally, because everything is separated by curtains, most people walking by can listen to everything being said. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need my treatment plan broadcast for every person walking by to hear.

How about your customers in the waiting room? Do you just charge in there and start talking to your customer in front of everybody else who is waiting? Don’t you think they feel a little vulnerable and exposed? Why not move them to a little more private area of the service department or take them out of the waiting room to discuss their repairs? It makes total sense when you think of it and the customer will appreciate you taking that extra step to make them feel comfortable.

Better yet, take them to their vehicle! Show them what needs to get done.

Another thing about processes in the hospital… Everybody follows the process. There is no allowance for any personnel to make a change to the process. All of the hospital staff knows that they’ll be held accountable for their actions.  One of the biggest takeaways is …everything is charted.

One of my very first lessons in the service department as an Advisor came from my manager. This lesson was courtesy of some very poor Repair Order documentation on my part. Believe it or not, customers often call or ask questions when you are not around.

In this case, the customer called and due to my lack of documentation (and the technician being at lunch as well), the Manager could not tell my customer anything other than “We are checking it out and as soon as I have some additional news, I will have Leonard call you.”

I can tell you from that day forward that I added notes in detail. The rule was “If someone else other than you picked up the RO they could follow the notes and take action on your behalf.” They do the same thing in the hospital.

What about your store? Do you add enough information to the RO that anyone could pick it up, read it and then take action on your behalf? Are processes followed by everybody? Do you hold people accountable for their actions?

The absolute truth about a process is that it requires action to be accomplished. It cannot act on its own.

This means that when someone does not follow the process, it is because they did not complete an action step. This makes it incredibly easy to diagnose and repair. Let me give you an example.

“Hey Sally, did you complete a walk-a-round and menu presentation on Grandma Jones when she came in this morning?” That is how easy it is to measure whether a process has been done or not.

“No boss. She was just in 2 weeks ago.” Now you have something to talk to Silly Sally about. Why didn’t she follow the process? And, who gives the Advisor/Technician/Parts Counterperson permission necessary to skip a process? Can they just decide themselves which process is necessary and which one is not? Can they decide not to follow a process on their own in your store?

“Well Sally, she just came and asked for the service manager (that would be me) because she can’t understand why two weeks ago you recommend a service (which she declined then) and today, when you talked to her during the write-up, you did not mention it. What do you think I should tell her?”

At this point Sally knows she needs to follow the process every time with every customer.

Sometimes you need more tests to diagnose what exactly is going on. In my case, they needed to complete an additional diagnostic procedure to give them more information.

Not only did the doctor explain the process, but I had at least two more visits from the nurse on call and the nurse assisting the doctor. Each time they asked me if I understood what was going to happen and did I need additional information or another explanation.

Do you take the time to explain the diagnostics involved in diagnosing your customers vehicle? Not only is it the right thing to do, you will find yourself becoming more of an expert on the vehicle. Especially when it comes to recalls and campaigns. If a customer brings their vehicle in and it is chugging like a steam engine, their expectation is that it will take a little time and knowledge to diagnose the vehicle.

But they still want to know what you are going to do! So, tell them. Ask them if they understand what is going to take place. Offer to show them on their vehicle what you will be doing.

Lastly, in your process, do you follow-up? I can tell you that since I’ve been home that I have received 2 calls from the hospital asking me how I was doing and did I need anything else? What a feeling of confidence that gave me.

Do you follow-up with your customers? Many dealerships say they do. Many dealerships think they do. But, the reality is, many of the customers that come in don’t get a follow-up.

Lifesavers are every where if you know where to look for them.

Lifesavers are everywhere if you know where to look for them.

In fact, many of your customers don’t even get a proper send off at the cashier window. Many of them leave without talking to an Advisor or a Manager. Even worse, they don’t even get a Thank You. Or an invitation to come back!

Quite frankly, I did not want an invitation to go back to the hospital. In fact, I would be very happy not see the inside of one for the rest of my life.

Here is your reality. Your customer may or may not see you again too. It depends on how well you and your Service Team followed your process.

Processes save lives.

By Leonard Buchholz

 

The Right Way and The Wrong Way

During the analysis and evaluation we conduct prior to starting a training program the question of ethics and standard business practices we train on usually requires some explanation. In other words, Dealer Principals and General Managers want to hear from us that we conduct our training programs ethically and professionally.

If I were to stand in a room full of Dealer Principals and ask “Who in here believes that the best way to take care of a customer is to sell extra or un-needed services?” I would venture to say that not one hand would be raised.

This misconception is a holdover from an original misrepresentation/misconception of our industry from the early beginnings. It is far past the time that we begin the process of changing the perception that people who work in the car business are only interested in taking as much money as they can using unethical business practices that prey on the public at large.

In 99% of the situations I have personally investigated where something went awry and the customer felt that they were “wronged”, I have found that almost every one of these situations was an error (and not a conscious decision) and 100% of the time it was resolved in the customers favor with little cost to the dealership.

In every dealership and within our industry we have a small percentage of people that just don’t get it, no matter what the culture, training and daily business practices that you reinforce at your dealership and it is those people we must remove permanently from our industry.

Customers are nothing more than the person standing in the mirror every morning, they are you. From Dr.Tony Alessandra “Treat other people as they want to be treated.”

All this means is dig into what the customer wants, separate those wants into needs and then identify the must haves from the needs. Communicate those must haves to the customer in a way they can understand you and do that ethically and with passion.

By Leonard Buchholz

businessethics

 

Uh Oh…Another Employee Quits

Resignation Letter

To: Dealer Principal

From: Fixed Operations Net Profit

Reference: Fixed Operations Gross Profit Resignation Letter

Dear Dealer Principal,

It has come to my attention that Fixed Ops Gross Profit has resigned effective immediately. Without the continued support of Gross Profit I cannot continue to be effective in the performance of my duties while adding funds to your Profitability. (not to mention your bank account)

I too have found other employment at a dealership that understands me and appreciates me for who I am. As you know, I am extremely sensitive to sudden changes in revenue stream, expenses and …ahem…”discretionary purchases” (if you know what I mean)

In the recent past there have been direct actions taken against me by personnel who do not have my best interests at heart. For example, the Service Department has stopped making appointments with adequate time between customers resulting in an instant revenue reduction in my department. In fact, last time I checked, they didn’t have a service drive process at all!

And because we don’t really have any processes in place (including how to answer the phone) there has been a decrease in customer pay RO count. Just last week I heard one advisor tell a customer they could not get in this week for service! And we have techs standing around at 3:30 most days!

I don’t know if you know this or not (and I am not trying to be a “disgruntled ex-employee”), but I heard that the parts obsolescence was at nearly 27% of current inventory! It has become very difficult to get any customers car in and out of the shop in one day due to a lack of parts availability. Just yesterday we did not have brake pads in stock for one vehicle and on another we didn’t have wiper blades.

In one case, the parts manager had to make an emergency purchase and then the advisor gave the customer a discount on parts and labor to make up for the extended wait time they endured while we were chasing down the parts!

Boss, there is not a Net Profit on earth that can work under these circumstances.

I have talked with Margins, HPRO and Effective Labor Rate and they are undecided on whether or not they will stay. Of the 3 (if I had to guess which one), I believe Margins have just about had it as well and will be leaving soon.

I never say never Boss, and if things change around here, I would be interested in getting a call from you.

With Sincere Regret,

Fixed Operations Net Profit

Resignation Letter

Resignation Letter

Date: Effective Immediately

From: Fixed Operations Gross Profit

To: Dealer Principal

Dear Dealer Principal,

It is with great regret that I must submit this letter of resignation effective immediately.

Although we have worked together over the past few years I don’t feel I can contribute to your bottom line anymore. It has been a great experience and I wish you and all of your dealership team the best.

I am quite excited about the opportunity that is in front of me. The team I am moving to have a firm grasp on my potential and have made a commitment to increasing my role while taking care of their customers.

For example, the advisors understand the difference between taking an order and taking care of the customer. They take the time to explain to every customer the different maintenance requirements of their particular vehicle.

And they make sure every customer gets a maintenance schedule with recommendations on how the customer can best take of their vehicle for longer life and greater customer satisfaction.

They even set up a quick lane service that is as convenient as the “aftermarket guys.” Yessir, they have the customer’s best interest in mind at my new place of work.

Those are just a few things they have done to attract new Gross Profit like me. In fact, they made an offer so attractive, I just could not say no. The best part…they even have an advisor service drive write-up process that practically guarantees my continued employment there for as long as I like!

Believe me when I say I contemplated a long time before deciding to make a change. I considered all the benefits of staying here and there are a couple. I know that every month will be the same as last month and there is something to be said for continuity I guess.

Also, doing the exact same things day after day without making changes does have some benefits. At least I always knew that I would have some small role in the dealership’s success. I have to be honest with you when I say that sometimes it was hard watching the other dealerships with larger Gross Profits, but I got used to it.

Perhaps that is what has finally led to this. All in all, I think the best word to describe my time here is “underachievement.” And without any new processes or changes, I’ve made the decision to part company.

I really wish we could have done more together. Good Luck to you in your future endeavors.

Signed,

Fixed Operations Gross Profit

Training Like You Want It, Like You Need It!

TRAIN TO WIN

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 info@dealerprotraining.com, 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

3 Common Mistakes Salespeople Make

The 3 Most Common Mistakes Salespeople Make That Cost The Dealership Money!

The good news: They are all Preventable! Read below for the latest in how you can prevent Lost Sales!

#1-NO INTERVIEW!

An interview is the most important part of any sales process. There are several objectives for the interview. 

    • build a relationship with your customer
    • establish some common ground
    • build rapport
    • find out their needs and wants.

The interview must be conducted in a controlled area such as the sales office. Too often the salesperson will simply escort the customer to the inventory and start their sales process (if they have one).

When this occurs, the sales person has NO idea of what the customer’s needs might be, budget, credit worthiness, who is the buyer, who is the decision maker, who will make the payments, how many seat belts will they need and a variety of other information.

Additionally, many customers will gravitate towards units that DO NOT fit their needs, budget or other factors. Usually they will put themselves on something that is substantially outside their financial capabilities.

The salesperson must bring the customer to their desk/office, sit them down and start gathering information. A decent interview should last at least 15 minutes.

               Skip this process and it will result in LOST SALES.

#2-CUSTOMER CONTROL
Every time there is a face to face encounter a sale is made. Either the customer buys into the salespersons presentation or the salesperson buys into the customer’s presentation.

The sale is made by the person in control. NO CONTROL, NO SALE.

Control is determined by the person ASKING the questions. To maintain control you, the Salesperson, must ask the questions.

You will need to anticipate the direction of the conversation, mentally think ahead to possible answers and be ready for different responses.

This is called “Thinking on your feet”. Explore every angle. Never stop asking questions.

#3-TURN TO A MANAGER Never be the person to let your customer leave the dealership. ALWAYS turn your customer to a manager.

Get a second opinion. Two heads are better than one. We’ve all heard all the reasons, so why doesn’t this get done?

Studies show that turning customers to a manager will result in an additional 5% sold units.

Now this may not sound like much. Let’s do the math. If your store has 500 UPS a month, this one deal saving technique will result in an additional 25 sales.

At $2500 per unit that amounts to $62500 in ADDITIONAL GROSS, just for getting a second OPINION!

Here then are the 3 ways you can turn a lost sale into a SOLD CUSTOMER!
Conduct a real interview, maintain customer control and always turn to a manager! Do this consistently and your organization WILL Sell More Units!

by Dugan Anderson

Sales Training Manager DealerPro Training Solutions

Need help with Sales Training? Losing Sales and looking for answers? Give Dugan a call at 406-755-2910 or send an email to dugan.anderson@gmail.com