Tag Archives: service drive 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)


Where does Repair Order Count attrition start? On the Telephone of course!

With the emphasis on increasing RO count through the manufacturer’s initiatives in regards to Quick Lube, Express Service, Fast Oil Change or whatever you call the 30 minute oil change in your Dealership, you would think that RO counts would be going up.

In some instances, yes they are. There is no doubt that these programs have resulted in more traffic into some stores in some cases.

But, in many stores, even with the advent of the “30 Minute Oil Change” marketing push and Free Maintenance, RO counts are going down.


Because Mr. and Ms. Advisor still answer the phone that same way they did last year…and the year before that… and the year before that.

Advisor “Hello, this is ABC Motors, can I help ya?”

Customer “I’m having a problem with my ’07 wagonmaster. It makes a funny noise when I start it up in the morning.”

Advisor “Yep, I’ve heard that one before. It’s probably the flutenator valve.”

Customer “Flutenator valve, huh. It sounds expensive. How much to repair it?”

Advisor “It’s depends on what type your wagonmaster had originally installed. Sometimes the whole rocket box assembly has to be replaced as well. Basically, if you don’t need it re-chromium plated, it’ll run ya about $395.00 installed.”

Customer “$395.00…I’ll have to think about it. I wasn’t expecting it to be so much.”

Advisor “Well, I’m not supposed to do this…but we have a coupon for 15% off right now for any repair. I have an extra one in my desk if you want it. Please don’t tell my boss that I gave it to you. Just come in and ask for me, Dumbass Dan.”

Customer “Ok, I’ll think about it.”

Advisor “Ok. Thanks for calling.”

I conduct in dealership live phone calls all the time. It’s part of our process when we are doing an evaluation. In the past 4 years, I can count on one hand how many times an Advisor came close to what would be considered a “professional telephone call” (by any standard you choose to use)  in which the Advisor guides the call and the customer to actually making an appointment.

Which, by the way, is the only reason for the Advisor to answer the phone… to make an appointment!

I have never met an Advisor whose last name is Google, but all day long they answer the phone and give out information and pricing and advice and coupons and everything else under the sun!!!!… without actually SELLING THE APPOINTMENT.

In addition to having poor to non-existing phone skills, the Service Departments themselves have a hard time dealing with an influx on customers who come in on the promise of a quick oil change by trained professionals and yet experience a long drawn out wait peppered with bad tv shows, loud pages over the intercom (yes, it still happens every day), and little to no information as to what their vehicle needs in order to maintain it in a safe and reliable condition.

“I have identified the enemy and it is us.”"I've identified the enemy..."

Want a better customer experience? Want more RO count? Want to capitalize on the marketing the manufacturer has pushed (not to mention your own efforts)? Then you need phone and communication skills to match your expectations.

Not training your Advisors is a choice.

by Leonard Buchholz

The 100% Rule


Dealership (Photo credit: Dan McKechnie)

100% of doing exactly the same thing next year as what you did this year will yield you 100% of the same results.

100% of Personnel employed in your Dealership will perform exactly the same next year as they have this year.

100% of the Processes you used this year to get the results you now have will give you exactly 100% of the same results next year.

100% of the of the Profit you make this year will be exactly the same as next year and exactly the same as last year when using the same Personnel and the same Processes combined with the same Expectations.

100% of Making a Change comes from the Desire to Do Things Different.

What do you want the Next Year to look like?

When to make Hard Decisions in a Dealership

Every week I am in a Dealer and have found certain things to be true for those that are successful and those that are not.

In Dealers that are successful, they make the hard decisions.

The gather information, investigate, counsel with whom they need to and decide. Once that decision is made action is taken and the news is passed on to everyone it needs to be and implemented immediately.

In Dealers that are struggling, this process is broken.

More often than not, they make no decision.

They rely on just the bare information from one source. Little consideration given to other information sources. There is no investigation into alternatives, counsel is not sought nor asked for and decisions are delayed.

In fact, hard decisions are delayed sooooo looooonnnggg that they become superfluous and detrimental to the overall health of the Dealership.

In these broken Dealers you can count on most challenges to go unmet and unresolved. This leads to demoralization and a culture of uncaring and overall malaise.

On the other side is the Dealer that faces the challenge.

They decide on a course of action and implement it so that all of the staff know what direction is being taken, who is responsible, what roles need to be filled and who is doing what. They cultivate a culture of accomplishment, teamwork and satisfaction.

In the end, the Dealer that makes the hardest decisions quickly gets the benefit of Action!

Happier Employees, Outstanding Customer Service and Greater Gross Profit!

Send an email to lbuchholz@dealerprotraining.com for a Free Report on “How to Increase Your RO Count.” Or you can call 888-553-0100 for a Service Department Profit Evaluation. Action Gets Results!

What Do We Do At DealerPro Training Solutions?

We are a Performance Based Fixed Operations Training Provider.

In plain english, we Coach and Train Service Advisors, Service Managers, Parts Department Personnel including Counter Personnel, Technicians and Dealer Principals on how to Sell Service. And we do it on a Performance Based Compensation Program. If you don’t improve, you don’t pay.

It’s not all that we do. We coach and train on accountability, processes, techniques, customer service, management, marketing, expense management, profit generation and maximizing the service visit, to name a few.

We can be found at www.dealerprotraining.com, www.fixedopsnews.blogspot.com , YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. We have posted articles at numerous online sites like www.ezinearticles.com. We contribute regularly at www.dealerelite.com, www.autodealerperople.com and www.sellingiron.com.

We can also be reached at 540 Office Center Drive Ste 286 Gahanna, Oh. 43230 or by calling 888-553-0100.

If you are interested in increasing Gross Profit and Service Absorption in your Fixed Operations you need to contact us.

If you are looking for more information go check out some of Don Reeds videos at YouTube under Dealerprofixedops.

Passionate About Success in Service? Are You Using “Old Thinking” in New Times?

I was reading a post on another site when  I read something I found quite profound. It was a comment by another gentleman.

 He said “If you are not passionate about what you do, if you do not believe in it with every fiber of your being, it will be reflected in your achievements.”

In my role as a Trainer, this is the single biggest reason I see people fail in this business as Service Advisors and Service Managers.

1st, they don’t want to be there. This is “just a job.” For many it is just the “means to pay the bills.” The amount of effort they put into the day is just enough to get them through it. Yet, when questioned, many people say “I need my job.”

Really? Lots of people need a job.

The truly successful Service Advisors see themselves not only as Advisors, they see themselves as  Caretakers of the Customer. Not as Order Takers or Receptionists.

2nd, they don’t believe that what they do has real meaning. The Truth is, in our roles as Service Managers and Service Advisors, it can be a thankless and grinding task.

You are not going to rescue a child from a burning building or invent a cure for a life threatening disease.

However, if you are looking for something that involves working with people, thinking, communication skills, sales, action management, technical knowhow, Customer Service knowledge and the ability to remain calm during stressful situations then you are going to love this position. It has all of that and more.

 I like to think of the Service Advisor as more of a Traffic Controller than anything else. Just as important as the Air Traffic Controller is to the Tower, the Advisor is to the Dealership.

The average Advisor has more to do with the overall profitability of the Dealership than any other single person employed by the Dealership.

It is an important role and if you don’t have that mentality, then you should find another profession. And, once in a while. there will be someone who recognizes your efforts and Thanks you. Sometimes they bring donuts, sometimes they just look you in the eye, and say “Thanks for taking care of me.”

Lastly, Resistance To Change. Why is it in our business everyone thinks that once you are trained, nothing else need be done?

What single business on the planet remains static, frozen in process and procedure? What single business on the planet has a constant supply of the Customers who are exactly the same as they were the year before? With all of the same buying habits, demographics and metrics? Not one that is still in business. Because every single business that thinks that way goes out of business.

 Look around you. In the past 5 years, Dealerships have Decreased! and Aftermarket Competition has Increased!

Why are you using old thinking in new times?

Change is inevitable. Become a Change Agent. Read everyday about your Profession. Find and attend Training relevant to your areas of opportunity. Ask your Customer what is important to them. Become proactive and not reactive.

Have questions? We have answers! email us at lbuchholz@dealerprotraining.com, call us at 888-553-0100 or write us at DealerPro Training Solutions 540 Office Center Drive Ste 286 Gahanna, OH 43230.

Not Taking Action Has Consequences

Yesterday I had the privilege of addressing a room of Service Managers and Factory Personnel. And I have to believe that everyone in that room was there to find or gather some new information that would help them take action on something that might be causing them some problems at their Dealerships.

Why would you attend if you had no hope of getting something, right? I hope that everyone one of them got something that they can use right away at their Dealership this week.

And because I had a long drive home afterwards I started thinking about the consequences of not taking action.

In the Service Department the consequences really multiply quickly.

Lets take a look at John Q. Advisor.

John Q. is a underachiever at ABC Motors. His HPRO is at .9 and his Gross Profit Margin is below 70%. Now, John Q. is not necessarily a bad guy. In fact, he is a likeable and hard-working employee. He comes to work on time and believes he contributing to the overall success of the Service Department.

Johns current performance level is not acceptable. And the consequence of not taking action has verifiable results. Lets break down the numbers.

With his .9 HPRO at the national labor rate of $85.00 an hour, John is earning  $76.50 in Gross Labor Sales per RO. Add in his Parts Gross Sales of $61.20 per RO (which is a 80% parts to labor ratio)and that adds up to a total of $137.70 per CP Repair Order written.  John has been performing at this level for 3 months.

The national average is 1.5 HPRO. By accepting Johns performance it is costing the Dealership money.

How much money?

Using 1.5 HPRO as a benchmark, adding .6 at $85.00 equals $51.00 in Gross Labor Sales. Factor in the Parts Gross of $40.80 and each RO that John Q. writes is costing the Dealership $91.80 in LOST SALES!  John writes an average of 220 CP ROs a month.

That is a $20,196.00 per month loss of income and over a 3 month period that adds up to $60,588.00!

I have to ask you, would you pay any Advisor $20,196.00 extra  a month? $252,352 a year?

By not taking action, YOU ARE!

Everyday that John is not held Accountable for his performance there is a concrete and verifiable  loss. Not only a monetary loss but a performance loss that affects the whole department as well.


Accepting Johns performance sends a message to everyone in the Dealership that there is a lack of accountability and that continued performance at this level is A-OK! In fact, John and every employee in the Service Department need not worry about their future…it is secure at ABC Motors.

You know what is worse?

John thinks that it’s ok. Should John go to another Dealership for whatever reason, he would soon find himself out of a job, again.

Why? Because Underachievers are not tolerated everywhere!

So not only has John Q. become a drain on the daily cash flow at ABC Motors, the Service Manager at ABC Motors is costing the Dealership money as well.

How is that possible and Why is it the Service Managers fault?

By not Taking Action, not providing Training and Coaching and not holding Jonh Q. Accountable for his daily performance, the Service Manager is perpetuating Poor Performance and Condoning it!

Do you have a John Q. in your store?

Are you suffering the consequences of not taking action? What are you going to do about it!

Training is the basis for Exceptional Performance. Call 888-553-0100 or send an email to lbuchholz@dealerprotraining.com and find out how the right Training will make a difference in your Dealership.