Tag Archives: Leonard Buchholz

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)

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
*PhonePops

How to “blow up” your Customer on the service drive 5 different ways

One of the many byproducts of training in so many dealerships is that you get to observe all the different ways people do things. Like how they answer the phone or talk to a customer in the service drive.

Over the years, I’ve made it a point to take note of some of the ways Advisors and Managers blow their customer up in the service drive and I thought I would share with you my observations and my Top 5.Your Customer

Number 5.

Assume the customer knows;

Why they need to maintain their vehicle. Nearly 90% of the customers in the service drive have never opened the owner’s manual. (What do you think that number is when applied to Service Advisors and Service Managers?)

  • When it is due for service. If they aren’t reading the owner’s manual, you can bet they don’t know when specific maintenance items are due for replacement.
  • What recalls are open and need to be done. The information age is not all it’s cracked up to be and the average consumer does not know what recalls are open and whether or not they apply to his or her vehicle. Recent news is an excellent case in point as there have been so many recalls issued, it’s difficult to keep track.
  • How much time the repair will take. Just because they have been in before for a LOF, does not mean the customer knows what is happening in your circus that day. They might not want to “hang around” around for a 3 hour oil change.
  • And the worst of all of the “Assumes”… assume the customer does not have the time or the money. Number one reason why service advisors and service departments do not make money. For those of you struggling to be profitable…do this…inform the customer about the needs of their vehicle…and see what happens.

Number 4.

Be a poor listener.

I can’t tell you how many times (a bazillion) I have observed an Advisor or Manager standing behind the counter, staring at the computer screen while the customer tells them exactly how they would like to spend their money. No acknowledgement, no restatement or concerns, no eye contact or head nods…just staring at the screen and typing away…like the screen is going to give you money.

Get your Listening Skills on track and start communicating with the customer.

Number 3.

Forget to put something on the repair order.

Hey, here is a neat idea. Just for comparison sake, I want you to go down to the zoo, find the bear exhibit, climb into the bear cage and then jump on the bear and go for a ride. Because failing to put something the customer said to you on the repair order is a lot like riding a bear. You can’t get off for fear of getting bit and the terror you feel as you buck around like a rag doll is real.

I personally have been guilty of this and I have to tell you, the claw marks from those encounters take a long time to heal, if ever.

If the customer says anything…anything…like “I was driving down the street on the second Tuesday of last week under a full moon going uphill with my foot on the brake and the front lights on…when I heard a noise from the left rear and it sounded like a blender full of ice being thrown off a cliff” and you don’t write it down on the repair order, then get out your chaps and boots, because you are going for a bear ride.

The first thing the customer will ask you when they come back for their vehicle is “Hey, didja find that noise?” and if your answer is “Huh?”, then you my friend, are about to meet Smokey the Bear’s cousin, “No Jokey.”  This bear is a man-eater and will absolutely tear you up one side and down the other. The best way to avoid “No Jokey” is to document, document, document.

Write it down. Get a tech to take a look. Who knows, there might be a blender full of ice stuck under the left rear wheel.

Number 2.

Fail to offer solutions.

It happens all the time. Advisors and Managers fall back on “It’s company policy” and “It’s not us, it’s the manufacturer” or “We are just swamped” excuse immediately, (it’s like watching a soccer player on the field whenever an opposing team player comes within a foot of them), rather than offering solutions for problems the customer didn’t create and are asking for help.

It requires a new way of thinking. Start with just one common request “Do you have a loaner car?”, and answer the real question “Can you get me where I need to go?” and you will be on the way to becoming a Solution Provider. (Hint: Do this with every common question you get in your dealership)      (BIG HINT: Teach every Customer Contact person how to answer these questions with the prepared answers you and your team have developed)

And lastly, Number 1.

Ask the customer “Do you have an appointment?”

This must be one of the all time worst questions to ask a customer…EVER!

Hey, they are in front of you, they need help and they have something called MONEY in their pocket and you want to know if they have an appointment? In the words of one famous politician “What difference does it make?”

It makes all the difference because asking that question puts the customer on the defensive. Let me ask you this. Is it easier to make a sale to a person who is not defensive or one that is thinking that you just made them feel like an outsider? Or is it easier to make a sale to a friend who just needs a little help?

So that’s my Top 5 ways to blow up your customer. (Go here for more Leonard)200K in 200 Days

I’m sure there are many more and some of you won’t agree with my list, but be that as it may be, there is no doubt that using these techniques and processes in your service drive will result in lost sales and lost customers.

By Leonard Buchholz

Why small increases are important to your Dealership profits

Just what does a 10% increase (in any KPI you choose) really mean to your dealership?

Why small changes make big things happen.

Why small changes make big things happen.

 

Have you heard the old saying “Yard by yard it’s hard, but inch by inch is a cinch”?

If I were to go to any of your dealerships and walk into the GM’s office and say “Would you be interested in a 50% increase in Gross Profits?” what do you think he or she would say to me?

They would jump out of their chairs and yell out “Of course…how do I get it!”

And therein lies the problem with increasing performance or increasing profits 50% at a time. It is really hard to achieve that big of a jump all at once. It’s not that people are not capable or willing, it’s just that getting all of the components of a dealership focused and firing on all cylinders at the same time is a difficult proposition at best, and trying to get a 50% increase in any measurable KPI just becomes impossible.

Truthfully, whenever you have heard someone (DP, GM, New Manager, etc…especially the New Manager) say something like “I’m expecting big things this year and our goal is to increase (fill in the blank) by 50%”, would you say the “Dirty Diaper Alarm” trips in your head and you disregard everything that was said and develop a less than favorable opinion of said “Authority Figure” (or whomever was speaking)? Yep, me too.

But if I go into any dealership and ask any service advisor “Hey there Mr. /Ms. Advisor, do you think you could sell an extra $10-20 dollars on every repair order?” what do you think the answer is nearly 100% of the time?

“Of course I can.”

That is the power of a 10% increase.

So let’s look at John Q. Advisor and some of his numbers. At the average of 1.5 HPRO at $85.00 an hour, every repair order John writes is averaging about $229.00 a ticket. A 10% increase is only $22.90 and if John writes 220 repair orders a month, that equates to a $5 Grand a Month increase in Service Sales.

What does John get? At the end of a year, he gets an additional $60 grand in Commission-able Sales and if he is on an average pay plan, he just made another $5000.00 or so dollars for the year or $400.00 bucks a month.

Now go ask your Advisors, “Hey there Mr. /Ms. Advisor, want to make $400.00 more a month?” and what do you think their answer will be? (If they say something smarty pants or “No” or “Who do I have to kill?” just tell them you are going to write a letter to their spouse or significant other stating they turned down a $400.00 dollar a month raise)

Most organizations focus on trying to increase too much when they should focus on just making small but effective changes that yield results over time.

One more thing. Don’t forget the power of compounding.

Back to back increases of 10% in John Q’s example is big. How big? In the second year of a 10% increase, John’s average sales per repair order become $277.00 per copy or $48.00 more than year one, which equates to a $126,720.00 yearly increase in service sales…not too bad a result for a 10% increase.

Get focused on making small incremental changes that add up to big improvements! Help your team see the value and vision of a 10% increase in their service sales process and watch those profits (not to mention team morale) soar!

By Leonard Buchholz

“Missed it by that much”

There is an old saying carpenters use. “Measure twice, cut once.”

I recently went to a Dealer to present DealerPro and our Performance Driven Training Program and guess what…I measured once and missed the cut.

I didn’t miss by much. About a 1/16th of and inch or so. When you really think about it, on a small scale, 1/16th is not that much at all. It really does not seem that big a deal.

But miss by 1/16th of an inch when you are calculating something like the square footage of your home and taxes are involved and suddenly you remember things like high school algebra and can quote complex mathematical theories.

The point I am making is everyday we all say things to ourselves like “Oh, it’s ok if I don’t give that Customer a menu because I know that they don’t buy anything” or “I’m not going to worry about that multipoint inspection. They were in just a few months ago” and we give ourselves a pass.

Why?

It’s just a little bit and it won’t make a difference. Right?

I flew 200o miles to present our program to a Dealer that was not prepared to see me because I failed to follow my own process. I got busy with other things and did not “measure twice, cut once.” Can you guess the end result?

It’s never the big disaster that kills a deal. Big disasters almost always start with small decisions that don’t really seem that important when you are making them.

Deciding not to personally call this Dealer and get him on the phone even after we had talked a couple of times, did not seem that big a deal. I mean, everybody reads their email…right? And everybody can read and follow directions…can’t they?

It was only a little shortcut. And it caused a huge miss.

Are your Service Advisors taking those little “shortcuts” because in their minds “it’s just a little thing” and nobody will notice? Are you allowing your Service Team to circumvent, use “choice implementation” or refuse to follow processes that are in place? Are they “missing the cut?”

Take the time NOW to review everything you are doing that is working and  everything that is not working and find out why.

Grandma dropped her car off and did not get a multipoint inspection? Why?

Mr. Jones came in for a recall and was not offered a menu? Why?

Billybob the local twice a month customer came in and was not greeted properly? Why?

Silly Sally the Service Advisor did not complete and walk around on her 10 writeups today? Why?

Ms. Coffeecellphone came in and was completely taken care of and even wrote a letter to the owner about her recent service experience. Why?

It’s not just about what is not being done. It also about what is being done correctly.

Find out what is being done correctly… train, show,coach, review, train, show, coach, review, lather, rinse, repeat daily for maximum results.

Do this enough and missing by just a 1/16th becomes a footnote in your Success Story.

Me, I’m back to measuring twice. I hate missing the cut. Don’t you?

(send me an email with the name of the famous tv show that the title of this blog post came from and I’ll get your Service Advisors signed up for a free e-learning series lbuchholz@dealerprotraining.com)

Smothered by the Rut Blanket

What would a Professional Service Advisor do?

Professional Service Advisors are prepared for the day ahead of them and don’t get caught in the “why bother because everyday is the same” rut.

Now, why is this so important? I mean, c’mon, isn’t every day just the same?

Open the door, reset the alarm, start the coffee, turn on the computers, check for night drops, check your email,  flip through the stack of carry-overs, etc, etc, etc.

Sounds like the “same ol’, same ol’” to me. No change required.  No need to do anything different.  You can live your life like a sheeple.  Lots of companies need sheeples.

If that is the kind of career and the kind of earnings you want, then go for it.  It is easy to be easy.  You can let your whole life creep along this way, no problem.

What you have to realize is that it is not the daily routine that gets you; it’s the thinking behind the daily routine. If the day before you looks like and feels just like yesterday, then it must be the same.

And that’s when the rut gets you.  Ruts do not grab you suddenly from behind like a mugger on a city street.  It is not a full front assault. Because if getting into a rut was like that, we would all take precautions and avoid it.

No, getting into a rut or “stinkin’ thinkin'” is more like being smothered by a soft layer of blankets, one blanket at a time.  When you get that first blanket, it’s all warm and cozy (just like your daily routine) and  it feels good.  Who wouldn’t feel secure in a snugly little blanket?

Then the next blanket gets piled on and you feel even more warm and cozy,  just like Grandmas house at night in the winter after a cup of hot chocolate.  Doesn’t that sound nice?

And every day another soft blanket gets piled on and before you know it, you are being crushed by a pile of blankets a thousand feet tall.  You can’t breathe, you can’t move, in fact, you can’t even get out from under that pile of blankets. It’s so freaking heavy it squeezes the life out of you like hot cheeze wiz. Gruesomely gooey.

Blankets don’t seem so  warm and cozy now, do they? Ruts are like that.  Softly smothering you while wrapping you up with a false sense of security. And nothing rips through that blanket like a bucket of cold water than the Dealership getting sold, or the manager getting fired.  Where is your blanket now Linus?

Earl Nightingale said “A rut is nothing more than a grave with the ends kicked out.”

We all want our days to have some routine and normalcy.  It is what makes the world go around.  What we don’t  want to do is assume that everyday will be the same as the last one and start assuming that our Professional life and career growth stops merely because we have figured out a way to stay “warm and cozy.”

Professional Service Advisors get prepared for their day and their careers because they know that every Customer is different and it is better to be prepared to Take Action that to have Action Taken.  And they take that into their Professional life as well.  They don’t stand around and wait for the manager to say “Hey, have you completed training this year?”  They are constantly taking the time to become better at their profession and better prepared than their competition.

Here is another way to think about it.  If this does not describe you, then it’s the Advisor standing next to you getting prepared.  Your immediate competition.

Here are 10 ways you can get ready for your day, your career and your Professional life.  Get out of your rut.

  1. Read more. Read anything that contributes to your abilities, your skill sets and education. You own those 3 free and clear. Making them better pays dividends to you 10 times what you put into it.
  2. Practice your skill sets frequently. Role play, write a new greeting, new script, anything that will stimulate your mind and get you thinking about how you can do something better or different for your Customer. This will lead to a sense of satisfaction and just as important, more income.
  3. Start a focus group in your workplace with other Advisors. You don’t need permission from anyone, JUST DO IT! Believe it or not, there are other Advisors in your store that have issues just like you. Waiting for someone to help is not going to get it done. Pick a subject that needs attention in your Service Drive, get the other Advisors together and get started on taking care of it.
  4. Mentor someone at work. Teaching them the right way to do things will keep you on the right track, stimulate new thinking and may, just maybe, lead you to a new way of doing business.
  5. Join a Professional Organization or Association. This will let you connect with others in the car biz while allowing  you to gain knowledge and skills. Google it.
  6. Join Toastmasters. If you are a true Service Professional and have not taken advantage of learning how to speak on your feet (for nearly nothing by the way) how Professional can you be?
  7. Take a class. Writing, Speaking, Computer etc… Get new knowledge!
  8. Teach a class at work. Teaching and Mentoring is the new “old school.” Skills and knowledge are being lost in the workplace faster than can be replaced. Someone has to lead the way, why not you?
  9. Write down what you have to do the next day before you leave that day, go through all of your carry-overs, go through all of your appointments and make notes so you are prepared to talk to your Customer, check with Parts and make sure the VOR Parts got ordered (can you see where this is going?) etc.
  10. GET HUNGRY! GET PASSIONATE! People love doing business with people who are HUNGRY and PASSIONATE about what they do. ( I use Caps to show you how PASSIONATE I am about the Service Business) There is absolutely no better experience than dealing with a Professional who wants to do a better job because they are HUNGRY and PASSIONATE about their Profession.

Preparing for the day ahead is not just about the very next day. It’s about being ready for every day, about changing your life and getting out of it what you want.

Professionals get prepared.

Hater or Creator?

It has been said that “the world is divided into haters and
creators.”

Creators are people who believe in themselves and their ability to find solutions and act on them to Create whatever it is they desire in every aspect of their lives.

The first step to becoming a Creator is embracing the role of being a Creator because you will soon find yourself besieged by Haters.

So, how do we become Creators?

Creators are people who decide which direction they are going and then they take the first step.

This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Creators
are different than Haters because they are “first steppers.” They use this first step as an act of ….Faith.

Faith in themselves and the tools they possess.  (read Attitude, Skills, Knowledge) This Faith comes from the belief that the actions they take will result in a desirable outcome of ther own choosing.

Creators then mold and pull and add and push and turn and
twist to keep moving forward no matter the circumstances.

A Creator in the act of creating rarely questions the material given to him or her.

No doubt, they seek the best material, but in the end, they still accomplish what they set out to do with what they have.

Creators are people who others want to follow. It’s a natural instinct all people have. When someone is in the act of Creating and there is Leadership, Pride and  a Sense of Accomplishment, everyone wants to be close to the person who is responsible.

Who wouldn’t?

Haters.

Haters question everything and everybody. They have little
belief in themselves and thereby want to control an outcome by proxy.

They know that if anything anyone is trying to accomplish turns out bad, they can stand on one side, and point their finger while saying “I told you so, I told you so.”

Haters would rather tell you and everyone in earshot why
it is dangerous to do anything new, when they tried something new something bad happened to them, how many times they had something bad happen to them, how many times they have seen others have something bad happen to them, etc…

They use this to create a feeling of control over themselves and others while never realizing that they gave up control when they decided to stand and watch
instead of Create and Take Action.

Haters are out to prove themselves right and everybody else
is wrong. They spend more time deciding how the world should run if they were
in charge and yet take no charge of their own world. Life is what happens to them.

There is not one spark of Creation anywhere.

So, at the end of it all, will you be remembered as a
Hater or a Creator?