If you want to get the most out of your Service or Parts Department, first you need to ask: What’s the purpose of a job interview?
If you said, “The purpose of a job interview is to scare the living crap out of people,” then you’re wrong. The purpose is to understand what their style or system is.
Whenever I was hiring Service Advisors, I would always ask, “When you’re walking up to a customer’s car to write them up and help them. What are you thinking? What’s going through your head?”
What we definitely don’t want to hear is, “I’m thinking of what I’m going to sell them.” That’s dead wrong.
Sales are easy. The sales come if you connect. If the first thing on your mind is sales, then that’s the totally wrong mindset!
What Jeremy and I want to hear is that they’re going to look to form a solid connection with the customer. That’s the only way you can tell a good Service Advisor from a bad one: You want somebody who’s in the spirit of connecting, helping, and taking care of the customer. Someone who is going to look for personal clues from the vehicle, anything that can tell the Advisor how they can help the customer.
Elon Musk has one simple, important question that he asks in every interview, and I think it’s totally genius: “Tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on, and how you solved them.”
You could frame that and put it on a wall. That’s how great this question is.
One way you could take this question and apply it to Service Advisors is to say, “Tell me about a difficult customer experience or an unhappy customer, and how you turned them around.”
Notice the similarities? It cuts through all of the noise and tells you exactly what the interviewee’s style and system are like, and also opens the door for some pretty entertaining stories.
Next time you’re hiring Service Advisors (or any position in your shop, really), definitely try this one out.
In auto news this week, Goodyear Tire is envisioning a radical new way to replace your tires, and it is absolutely nuts: Rather than swapping out the tire for an entirely new one… What if you made a tire that grew its own skin?
Their concept is a tire that regenerates tread with a compound that they insert into the center of the tire, which Jeremy and I have taken to calling the “Goodyear goo.” The tire then pushes rubber out from the rim, and grows its own tread. See? Absolutely nuts!
They even have the idea of using different inserts for different purposes. You got a track day coming up? Put racing slicks in. You got winter coming? You’re going to need your snow tires… All of this without having to go into the shop!
Will this affect new tire sales and alignment sales? Possibly. As Jeremy puts it, “It depends on the cost of the goo.” Either way, this is one of those innovations that (if it sticks) could totally change the industry as we know it. Definitely something to keep track of.
With that, we can move on to your questions. Remember to post your question on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or send it to [email protected]. If we read your question on the podcast, we’ll send you a Service Drive Revolution swag package with a T-shirt, stickers, and coffee mug!
“I just recently discovered your content. Really appreciate someone experienced putting out this knowledge. Do you have any recommendations for a shop limited by technician load? This is an opportunity out the wazoo, but with only four techs and six bays, I’m not sure how to seize it.”
Strong wording there. Seizing the opportunity.
Yeah, it’s a sorry state of affairs. Right now, the industry is losing two techs for every new one coming in… And it’s not going to get better. Shops everywhere need to get really good at hiring Technicians, because in the near future, whoever has the techs, wins.
What I would suggest is to sign up for our OnDemand Training platform. In there, we’ve got a module called Technician Tree, and it’ll teach you how to grow your own technicians, how to hire the top technicians in your area, and how to maintain the ones you already have.
The other thing that I often see is, when you struggle hiring techs, your culture in the shop is terrible, because you need techs more than they need you. You have a bunch of terrible techs with terrible attitudes, that don’t want to work terribly hard, driving the terrible culture in your terrible shop.
On the show, Jeremy also brought up supply and demand. By that he means, you should get your effective labor rate up by teaching your Advisors how to sell, learning pricing strategies, creating a menu, all that because as things go forward, the cost of a technician is going to go up. If you have a high effective labor rate, you can afford to pay techs what they’re worth, so they can help you meet that high demand. All of this is also explained in our OnDemand Training.
Every technician is worth between $10,000 – $15,000 in gross profit every month. If you can’t afford our OnDemand Training platform, then you definitely can’t afford new techs (and you might want to get into another industry).
“Do you guys like the idea of waiving diagnostic fees in order to capture the repair? Curious about your response. If we lose the shop to another shop, he only gets the diagnostic. If I sell the job, I can potentially get them a better chance at more hours. Plus, sometimes you don’t lose anything and both get time and diagnostic. Just curious how most others perceive it, plus wanted Chris’s feedback.”
Now, I’ve done this exact thing before and think it’s a good strategy… but Jeremy’s definitely not a fan of waiving diagnostic fees. In fact, he says the only reason somebody would waive diagnostic fees is because of “weak sales skills.”
That might seem a bit harsh, but I get the point he’s making. If the customer comes in for a diagnosis but decides to get the repair at a place that’s cheaper, even if they didn’t do the diagnosis themselves, then that’s simply a sales objection. Advisors need to know how to close a deal, and part of that is knowing what to say or do when the customer says, “No.” Again, if you want some help then you can go to our OnDemand Training platform, and get a coach.
I agree with what he says, but I’ve used this strategy before with a good outcome. Ford had a bunch of my clients open these off-site express service departments, which were sometimes five miles away from their dealership. Can you guess what happened?
Yeah, they would lose money.
One of the marketing campaigns I would do over and over again was, “the check engine light is free,” and that would work! But what Jeremy said is right. You definitely want to train your Advisors to overcome sales objections like that. It’s not completely black and white, and there are some situations where it’s okay to write off something to keep a job.
So now let’s move on to our title topic of the week… 4 Hidden Ways Parts Can Sell More Labor. That’s right, we’ve discovered a few ways that you can turn your Parts Department into a profit-generating machine! Some of these are so obvious and make so much sense that I genuinely can’t believe that people out there aren’t doing them.
Number one: Sell some accessories or modification
A lot of that goes to the aftermarket because we don’t ask and we don’t try.
I do this all the time. I’ll sit in the drive and look at the next 20 cars coming in. Now, what percentage of the vehicles coming into the drive do you think have some sort of upgraded wheels or lift kit?
If you sit there and count, it’s about 50%.
So why don’t we put them in the showroom pre-lifted? The key to selling more accessories is to gamify it. Why isn’t the parts manager at the sales meeting every Friday gamifying and handing out spiff money for accessories sold?
Get out of your office, get away from your desk, take the seat belt off! Get yourself a wad of cash and start spiffing salespeople to sell accessories! Even spiff the sales managers if you have to!
Number two: Body shops
If you have body shops that are buying a lot of parts from you, have some sort of deal where if they bring their alignments and their programming and the heavier mechanical stuff to you, you can work out some sort of deal. Create a relationship between yourself and these body shops.
Number three: Don’t just sell the part, sell the diagnostic
This one was Jeremy’s and it’s genius. The number one thing his shop gets phone calls on is, “Is it too much to replace ____?”
And it doesn’t matter what ____ is. When a customer wants a component replaced, there’s a triggering event that happened with that request, so you can’t just leave it at ____!
It’s no different in the Parts Department. When you go up to the Parts counter and ask for an O2 sensor, they’ll give you an O2 sensor… but first they’ve gotta ask, “Why do you want an O2 sensor? What makes you think you need an O2 sensor? Who told you you need an O2 sensor?”
Again, don’t just sell the parts, sell the diagnostic. Have a two-way conduit where the Advisor can come in, answer questions, and turn that retail parts customer into a service customer and sell them the diagnostic, too.
Number four: Create a CRM with the customers that come in
That’s the Customer Relationship Manager. Too often, the retail parts customer is neglected, and there’s never any follow-up with them. Trust me, when that customer leaves, there’s a Service opportunity there. You need to get their contact info into a CRM and follow up to ask them about setting their next Service appointment.
“Can we introduce you to our service department?”
“How can we help you?”
“How can we earn your business?”
A common question that customers ask is, “Do you think this is going to fix my problem?”
When a customer asks this, you should immediately: get that customer’s email, get their phone number, and get their permission to follow up. Then put their information into a CRM. It’s called permission-based marketing, and it’s absolutely free. You’re missing a huge golden opportunity in your Parts Department by not creating a CRM.
Your Parts personnel have got to be skilled in identifying that and moving it over to labor. There’s so much untapped labor to be sold, but we don’t even try.
Thanks to everyone for tuning in. Jeremy and I hope you have a great week and we’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!
My friend, mentor, and personal doctor, Dr. Roman Lal, M.D. joined us yesterday for a special live webinar episode of Service Drive Revolution, where he taught us how to keep our Service Department safe during the Coronavirus crisis.
You can listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or watch the full episode on YouTube; but we’ve highlighted some of the Dr. Lal’s most important lessons for you right here. I hope this helps to keep you informed and come up with a game plan for your Service Drive during this crazy time.
Every day I talk to dealers who are thriving and sadly some that are panicking. The one thing that all of the panicked dealerships have in common? They neglected their Service Departments until now, and that’s why they are the ones who have been hit the hardest by this crisis.
With new car sales and manufacturing shut down for the foreseeable future, your Service Department is now your greatest asset and your best option for making a profit during this economic downturn. If you find yourself in a panic right now, and need help with training or implementing a system for your Service Drive, we can help.
There are currently many theories for how the virus spreads, but the most widely observed form of transmission is respiratory. If an infected person were to cough in a crowded room, then the disease will transmit to about three people. For reference, if someone with the flu were to cough in a crowded room, it would only transmit to one person. One of the reasons this virus is scary is because of this exponential transmission. Many people infected with the virus experience no symptoms, but nonetheless carry the virus and will spread it.
What is the best way to protect myself from the Coronavirus?
The worst thing you can do is panic. If you’re interacting with new people at this time, it is essential that you prepare from the moment you get up in the morning to the moment you get home at night. If you can, try to buy any rubber, latex, or nitrile gloves and an N95 mask to block small particles from entering your lungs. Masks are only sufficient at blocking the virus if they are the kind that create a seal.
If you have recently undergone surgery, have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, lung issues, or other pre-existing conditions, you need to strengthen your immune system. Dr. Lal recommends immune system-boosting supplements such as Vitamin C, Zinc, or Colostrum. Make sure to maintain a healthy exercise routine to keep your levels of Human Growth Hormone high, as HGH is known to boost your immune system. High Intensity Interval Training is the best way to naturally produce HGH in the body, but any exercise will produce HGH to help your body to reject the virus. So be sure to exercise, eat well, and maintain healthy sleep.
Practice good sanitation at home and in your workplace. Wipe down your phone with sanitary wipes. Wash your hands constantly and thoroughly. Wipe down your door handles with sanitary wipes, ideally once every six hours. Every day you go out, wear a new set of clothes. The virus can attach itself to surfaces, so your safest option would be to wear new clothes every day, and to make sure you wash your clothes every day with hot water. Bathe as soon as you get home, thoroughly washing the parts of your body that have been exposed to the air.
Get your flu shot. We are experiencing a heavy flu season on top of the Coronavirus. Dr. Lal’s wife is the doctor in charge of COVID-19 at her Orange County hospital, and out of 60 people who came in for testing in one day, none tested positive for the Coronavirus but nearly 50 tested positive for the flu. Simply setting foot into a hospital increases your risk of exposure to the Coronavirus, so you want to get your flu shot as soon as possible (if you haven’t already) to lower your need for a hospital visit during this time.
Am I safe to attend group events or gatherings?
No. Because of the high reproductive rate of this virus, attending any group event or gathering is the worst possible thing that you can do. The official recommendation for groups is to avoid exceeding a group gathering of ten people. Dr. Lal personally recommends limiting all group gatherings to no more than five people.
Should I smoke during this time?
Preferably not. This virus is especially aggressive at targeting the lungs. Most of the people who die or succumb to illness are those who have pre-existing lung conditions. Smoker’s lungs are especially vulnerable.
Should we limit our interaction with customers?
Yes, absolutely. You have no way of knowing whether another person is maintaining good hygiene. The virus spreads within two to five feet, so maintain safe distance, avoid skin contact, and limit interactions as much as possible. You should post signage in your shop that states something to the effect of, “For your safety and our own, please leave the premises once business has concluded.” Also suspend all in-person waiting areas in your shop to limit customer interactions as much as possible. If customers insist on waiting or become unhappy, apologize for the inconvenience but insist. Offer to call them an Uber or other rideshare service if necessary.
How should we sanitize vehicles that we receive?
Wipe down, wash, or sanitize everything that you come into contact with. This includes wiping down and placing keys into a ziploc bag, and wiping down door handles, steering wheels, and seats. You want to use a disinfectant with high alcohol or soap content, such as Lysol. After disinfecting, let the car sit for an hour with the windows open to let the cleaning agents air-dry. The EPA has compiled a list of recommended cleaning agents to disinfect surfaces that have been exposed to the Coronavirus. Many dealerships and independent shops have also started using Clorox’s new formula, or a mixture of one quart of water to two caps full of bleach in a spray bottle.
If you are afraid of damaging vehicle interiors, another option would be to use standard Wet Wipes. They won’t completely kill the virus on surfaces, but they won’t damage interiors and will at least help to wipe away some viral particles. Another suggestion from Dr. Lal would be to implement some kind of fumigation procedure for cars received. Steam cleaners would not be sufficient to kill the virus. Consumer Reports has also published an article with interior-friendly options.
In order to keep track of sanitation procedures, Chris recommends writing the date, time, and name of the staff member responsible, directly onto the windshield with a grease pencil every time the vehicle is cleaned.
There are things you do every day that are slowly but surely killing you!
But before we get to that, we’ve got an interesting article on Automotive News: “Tech is a threat to service advisers,” where reporter Larry Vellequette brings up the question of whether Toyota can replace advisors with automation.
I actually think I’ve met Larry before. He mainly covers Toyota and Volkswagen for Automotive News and he’s obviously a good writer, but he doesn’t know the first thing about auto. Maybe that’s a bit too harsh but anybody who has written service or worked in a service department knows that it’s spelled service advisor with an ‘o’ at the end, not an ‘e.’ Throughout the whole article, he spells it “adviser,” which is technically not the wrong spelling, but it’s not the correct spelling from an insider’s perspective.
That aside, it’s a great article. Here’s the opening bit that I thought was pretty funny:
“Psst: Hey, service advisers. Can we talk for a second? That new co-worker in the service drive is kinda making you look bad: out there upselling every customer, pushing accessories more effectively, checking every VIN for recalls, equity mining every vehicle that comes through for sales leads. And all while processing customers in maybe a tenth of the time that you take and throwing every bit of information from each transaction immediately into the dealership management system like it’s nothing.
And the worst part? That same co-worker is doing all this without having to take breaks or complaining about long hours or needing health insurance or vacations, and this newbie is working for, let’s admit it, a tiny fraction of what you’re making.”
Now, this is something I’ve talked about before, and basically the point is that putting an iPad kiosk in front of a customer and letting them pick will get them to sell themselves more than an advisor who doesn’t ask, but that’s what happens when advisors don’t ask and aren’t consistent!
If it came down to me or Jeremy vs. automation, we’ll kick the crap out of it! There’s no way that automation is going to outperform me!
The kiosk is a novelty and there will always be a need for an advisor because what automation lacks is that personal connection. You can’t expect a machine to Pet the Dog! Well, maybe a machine can physically pet a dog but that’s a different story…
I’ve been hired to come into some meetings and add my point of view about this, and the thought process with manufacturers is that if automation ever got to the level of what advisors perform to now, it’s a huge increase in profits for the individual dealer because you take out the expense of hiring advisors. The bottom line is that basic stats say you’re reducing expenses and increasing your net.
But imagine this: I’ve been going to the same Starbucks for years, at least three times a week when I go to the gym. What if one day I walk in there and it’s just a kiosk with no personal touch? Granted, I’m a gadget guy that likes to hit buttons and the girl that’s usually there doesn’t make eye contact with me and could care less that I existed…
McDonald’s is a good example of this happening already, and their payroll load is 50% of what it normally is without an automated system in place. It’s like driverless vehicles, it’s not a question of whether it’s going to happen but when it’s going to happen. I still like the personal touch of having an advisor but it’s definitely a possibility we have to think about… at least for the sake of advisors figuring out what they can do better to avoid being replaced by a tablet.
First off, we really do have to thank our fans, viewers, listeners for all your support. Our downloads have been up crazy and we’re probably the #1 show in automotive.
Secondly, we really love your questions. We have pre-production meetings where we go through them and it’s hard to pick some of them because they’re all so good.
Question 1: Hi Chris, I love all your videos. I would like to know: How would you go about attracting a Service Advisor for an independent shop? What are the best places to post the ads to get in front of the right people?
I left this one up to Jeremy on the show because he’s better at that than me. So a number of things when finding a service advisor for an independent shop:
First, you create a personality profile for the type of advisor you want. One of the things you could do is hit up your Facebook page and ask your customers who is the best service advisor they’ve ever dealt with.
Once you’ve got that, find out who the main player is in your town and try to attract them based on that profile. While you’re at it, you can make a list of the top five advisors you’d want to deal with. Jeremy spent over two years to build a relationship with a guy until the stars finally aligned for him to leave his dealership and take a big risk moving to an independent shop.
Other things you can do is get job postings going on Indeed and call other shops or dealerships and find out who’s good. Them you can take them out to lunch and start recruiting.
Question 2: Hey Chris I work for a Nissan dealership in San Diego, and I write around 350 to 400 RO’s a month, which is more than most if not all other advisors. I’ve noticed my ELR and Hours per RO have gone down recently. Am I writing too many RO’s?
Okay so let’s do the math here: that’s 15-20 cars a day on a 20-day working month. You’re okay keeping it at around 15 but 20 is too much. I usually find that you can do your math with, “What would I make if my hours per RO, my ELR, and whatever it is were at a sweet spot of around 12-15 cars compared to when I’m writing too many, under-delivering, and being stressed out all the time?”
Right now, you’re talking about numbers in a transaction. Are you building a relationship with these customers? Is your, as Jeremy puts it, passion bucket filled for serving your clients? Take some time to make sure it’s full because you’ll see it on your paycheck when you feel confident serving people.
Question 3: Hi Chris, just gonna start out by saying you’ve helped me a lot in the past month as a Service Advisor. I have a question for you: We have implemented a new pay structure at work, and a new appointment coordinator. Since then my numbers have really grown, but it’s put a target on my back with the other advisors. How do I keep growing and collecting customers without the other advisors getting pissy at me?
What I used to do when I was a top advisor is I would walk by the other advisors and say, “Hey, you know why I look so good? Because you look so bad.”
Obviously there’s a team effort in the drive but you need to forget about what others might think of you when you outperform them. If you’re a high performer, you’re doing things different than the low performers and it’s working! Your mindset, your actions, your attitude, and your focus are different. Don’t try to be like them because they’re not going to like you.
The key to succeeding is blazing your own path and not setting your barometer to under-performers’ feelings on things. They might not like you and they might say derogatory things but if you let them make you feel like you’re doing things wrong, they’re going to succeed in pulling you down to your level and reverting you to average.
Full steam ahead. It’s not about them, it’s all about what’s best for the customer. I remember they did so many things to mess with me when I was an advisor but I knew I was taking better care of my customers than they were while they were spending time worrying about all the wrong things.
Another thing to that– management needs to understand that if you got one top-performing advisor, you need to surround them with a couple more high-performing advisors because, if you don’t, the under-performers are going to win by pulling that lone top performer down with them.
Top performers also tend to do things that cause customers to gravitate towards them. That’s how you future proof your career when all the under-performers are replaced with kiosks…
Lastly, we move onto:
Top 5 Things Killing Service Advisors
Yes, killing them. Not slowing them down. Not making them uncomfortable. Not hurting them when they pee.
Eating at their desk
A lot of people including Jeremy might think: wait a minute… why not?! It’s a time saver!
That’s not wrong but think about what people eat when they’re given 30 minutes for lunch. It’s usually pizza… or a double cheeseburger…
Those are the meals working people naturally go out to eat when they’re pressed for time but you can avoid that by planning ahead, maybe by packing lunch. If you eat right, you’ll have more energy, you’ll feel better, and you’ll sell more!
Not working out.
You got to start working out in the morning, too. If you eat better and start the day with some cardio or weights, your mind will be 10 times more clear and you’ll start the day with good vibes. Read the book Body for Life if you want some great workouts.
Most advisors are going to say, “Well, I don’t have time!”
Make time! We all have the same amount of time!
Failing to create a morning ritual.
Here’s how my morning would go from the time I wake up when I was an advisor:
My morning ritual starts with brushing my teeth.
Then, I meditate…
… I work out…
… I go to work. 45 minutes to an hour early.
Jeremy calls the hour before anyone shows up to work the ‘golden hour of power.’ During this time, you can do all your menial tasks like getting your desk organized or going into the logbook so you have time to plan out your day.
Lastly, not having the will to do a morning ritual is killing service advisors and replacing them with tablets.
They’re not learning! They’re not listening to books about sales, about customer service, about business, or how to get better. They’re not going to courses, that sort of thing. They’re stagnant!
I’m out of room for books, but I won’t stop buying more books! Pretty soon, I’m gonna need shelves with ladders.
The Parts Department.
No joke, the Parts Department kills advisors dead.
Once again, thanks to all of our viewers and listeners for tuning in. Please share, subscribe, and don’t forget to submit questions for a chance to win some swag, and we’ll see you again next week!
No, not really, but it sure sounds that way in a news story about a new Colorado law….
“A bipartisan bill introduced this month in Colorado legislature to allow any automaker to directly retail their battery electric vehicles to consumers is a direct frontal assault on state franchise laws in Colorado and nationwide. If passed and signed into law, it would do grave and lasting damage to Colorado’s franchise auto dealers. Notably […] the fledgling bill is rightly opposed by the Colorado Automobile Dealer’s Association.”
So, I have some thoughts on this, and if you’re a fan of the show, you can probably guess what I’m about to say.
First of all: this article is a couple weeks old, and the bill passed. Tesla can sell to consumers in Colorado. It’s happening. I can understand the dealers’ worries here, but in fighting this bill they were only delaying the inevitable…
Before this law passed in Colorado, Tesla was already selling direct-to-consumer in other states… So they aren’t really disrupting anything in Colorado that they hadn’t already disrupted elsewhere. Colorado dealers would be better served learning from the states where Tesla has already set up shop, rather than fighting to stop Tesla from coming to their home state.
Secondly: Even if a state’s law says Tesla can’t sell direct-to-consumer, people in that state are still going to buy Teslas! Case in point: Tesla tried this in Texas – didn’t work there – and you see more Teslas in Dallas than probably anywhere, because it’s the outlaw thing to do!
Third: Nobody listens to me! Time and time again, I’ve talked about Tesla’s advantage over dealerships, and time and time again, companies act surprised when they pay the price for underestimating Tesla!
Listen: If you’re a Ford dealer with all this money invested in your dealership and a franchise agreement with the manufacturer… you’re probably gonna get hit pretty hard by Tesla doing their thing. But that’s just because their approach works better than yours. It is what it is.
Companies like Ford might feel confident that they can still sell F-150s right now, but let’s see how they do once Tesla’s truck hits the market! Speaking of which, I had an interesting conversation with Jeremy on this week’s show about the design of the new Tesla Cybertruck….
…And by “interesting,” I mean we fundamentally disagree on it. I’m sure you’re all familiar with what I’m talking about, because it blew up on the internet after its unveiling. The Cybertruck has been divisive, to say the least. Jeremy can’t stand the design because it looks like something out of a 70s – 80s sci-fi movie, but here’s the thing: I really think that works in its favor.
To anyone who has kids, how many times was there a toy that all the kids wanted for Christmas but it was out of stock? They’re already predicting that’s what’s gonna happen, and we already have an indicator of it. Hot Wheels collaborated with Tesla on a $400 Cybertruck toy, and it’s already sold out!
The scam that these toy companies pull, which happens to parents every year, is that these toys probably aren’t going to be back in stock by Christmas. What’s gonna happen is little Johnny’s Christmas is ruined because he was a good boy all year for Santa but that holly jolly con artist didn’t pull through with the Hot Wheels Cybertruck. He’s going to realize Santa isn’t real, be bitter about his parents lying to him, and it’s going to make them feel pretty guilty.
Then, come February, guess what’s available in mass quantity?
That’s what toy companies do! They create something everybody wants, but they don’t make it available when everyone outside the lucky few needs it. Then, they end up getting something similar from the same brand as a consolation prize to hold their little Johnny over until they get the genuine article in February. But that was the crack in the dam and, by then, Johnny already knows Santa isn’t real.
Hell, I even put myself on the waiting list for one (the toy, not the truck; I’m not in the market for an actual truck) Why not? I don’t particularly like or dislike it, but that’s not what matters. I think, strategically, it’s smart because it pushes the envelope and gets noticed, even if it’s polarizing.
To better understand the business model here, you need to realize that there’s 350 million Americans and Elon Musk only needs 2 million to like it for the Cybertruck to be a success. I think it’s much smarter to get a loyal audience than trying to get everybody to like it. It’s definitely polarizing, yeah, but do you think it would have been talked about nearly as much if it was a GM pickup? If it had a borning, non-confrontational design where it could fit in anywhere but not stand out?
The standard American pickup we’re all used to has its spot in the market – don’t get me wrong – but I think it’s super smart for Elon to come in aggressively with this out there, stylized truck and that’s why you either love it or you hate it. Oddly enough, that’s a great place to be with a product.
Trucks are the highest selling vehicles, and they also create a lot of emotion. In the end, it’s way better to create that emotion and have people pick a side like they do with Ford vs. Chevy than it is to play safe down the middle, and that’s why I think it’ll work.
With that, let’s break it up with some audience questions before I get into the 5 Sales Mistakes Advisors Make. Remember to submit your questions to [email protected] or on our YouTube or LinkedIn and, if we end up using your question on the show, we’re going to send you our sincerest thanks and some swag.
“I am looking to get some more advisor training, but my dealer is not a training kind of dealership. Do you have service advisor training separate from the dealer experience? I am very impressed by the podcast and the info in there. I have made my way to #1 at my dealer because of the information, but I am hungry for more. Please help. It’s hard in Lincoln, Nebraska.”
Here’s an idea: go to a dealer that does provide training. There’s hundreds of them; we got a roster here at Chris Collins Inc.
Jeremy gives some solid advice on this week’s show about investing in your own career. I once spent a total of $200,000 in one year on training for myself, but that’s just because I’m one of those crazy people who actually likes learning new skills. I’ve always been a fan of going to different kinds of training, because even if it doesn’t seem like it applies to what I’m doing, I always learn something.
“Hi, Chris. I am researching inspection software. I am a service advisor for Dave Smith Alfa Romeo and Maserati in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We currently have MPI, but do not use it consistently. What digital inspection software do you recommend? I would like to see us use one that is easy on the techs, and helpful for our guests.”
My feeling is that digital inspections, most of the time, slow the process down because we don’t have a consistent system, and if you can’t do it on paper, you can’t do it digitally. I always start with a good, old-fashioned two paper inspection sheet; getting the techs to do it right under the car. It’s easy, it’s fast, and stapled to every RO. But if you can’t do it on paper, you can’t do it digitally.
If you get good at paper, you’ll be good at doing it digitally, but we often buy the software thinking it’s a magic pill but it’s not. Garbage in, garbage out.
Now let’s talk about the top 5 mistakes that advisors make in sales presentations. These are the mistakes that are directly cost them sales, so you’re really going to want to pay attention and see if you’re spotting these in your shop:
They are not prepared for the presentation. They simply pick up the phone and they wing it. How do you prepare for a sales presentation? You’ve got to have the customer’s primary concern dealt with and have an A, B, and C game plan for what needs to be addressed; have all the numbers ready so that they can make a decision without needing a calculator.
They’re not focused. They’re just not focused on their job, the customer, or the outcome; they’re distracted. 100% of your energy and passion needs to be put into the presentation, and a pro needs to lock themselves off from the outside world. Listen to customer clues and deal with objections before you move forward.
T vs. R: Transactional versus Relationship. I’ve dealt with people before where I could tell they didn’t care about me at all, and that was at the DMV and with the TSA. A lot of advisors treat their customers worse than the TSA agents do (minus the cavity search). I’ve never had a TSA person so much as to ask me how my day is. They could care less. For things to go from transactional to a relationship with a customer, you got to understand that the decision you’re helping your client make today ahs financial consequences in the long term, and you got to be there for them every step of the way.
They didn’t pet the dog. Over 80% of successful sales depend on what you do at the vehicle drop off. When the customer comes in, they judge based on that initial face time whether you genuinely care about them or not. Some advisors think that customers are cattle who need to be corralled into the slaughterhouse to feed the business, but customers obviously don’t want to be treated that way; no one does! They’ll be able to tell if you do, so you need to build a strategy for connecting with the customer on a personal level. The second thing is you got to plant the seed for later on that you’re going to do the inspection so they don’t get caught off-guard when you call them later. If you start off the presentation with, “Hey, my technician checked it out and found some things that should be addressed,” then you’re the hero.
They do NOT have a sales coach. There are plenty of things a sales coach would help a service advisor out on, especially with presentations. Just thinking about myself, the first one is mindset and tools. The second one is roleplaying and practice. A lot of advisors don’t have any tools, and they’re practicing every day through trial by fire with live customers. That’s not only the most expensive form of practice with any sales job, it’s damned wasteful, too. The biggest thing I would say when I’m coaching advisors is to shut up. What I mean by that is most advisors talk people out of it. They either sound nervous or they see the sale through their wallet. The point of the sale isn’t to improve the value of the customer’s car, the value you’re selling is that the service is going to keep them safe when they drive their family around, or go to work or school. That sort of thing.
With that, I hope you got some tools that’ll make you think a little bit different, and I hope this week’s show makes you laugh a little bit. Thank you to everyone who submitted a question; always appreciated. We’ll see you again next week on Service Drive Revolution!
Okay, that’s not true. It’s actually the exact opposite of true. Let me wind this back:
Speaking engagements are a big component of my job. And at the risk of contradicting myself, I’ve gotta say: I love my job. I love getting out there and meeting people and helping businesses and building a community to make the auto industry a better place. I couldn’t even begin to think of a more rewarding career! But there’s one thing about my job that I really can’t stand, and it’s a pretty huge part of it….
Now, you might be thinking “But Chris, you travel for work so you probably have a private jet and stay in fancy hotels and blah, blah, blah…”
Look– I’ll admit that I’m willing to pay an extra premium for a few extra inches of legroom, or earlier boarding, or some small creature comforts (we talked about some of them in our episode about my hypothetical $100,000 assistant), but make no mistake: I’m no diva. I don’t need to be pampered, I don’t have a mile-long contract for my speaking engagements, I don’t go around demanding excessive luxuries…
…and I don’t fly private.
That’s right! Even though I have a dedicated staff who work tirelessly to make my travel arrangements as painless as possible for me; I still have to check myself in, unpack my carry-on, take off my shoes, and get my belongings (and my private parts) scanned by the TSA… All of whom really need to watch our Pet The Dog Customer Service Training!!
When I travel, even in spite of the best-laid plans, I’m ultimately at the mercy of the TSA, the airline, the Uber driver, the hotel…. There’s a potential for something to go wrong every step of the way, and I have absolutely no control over any of it. And I’d like to point out that all of this is just the stress of normal travel! Traveling for work is every bit as stressful and dehumanizing as normal travel, but with an extra layer of anxiety:
You’re not just traveling to a destination…. You’re traveling, and your livelihood depends on it!
So yeah, I hate traveling for work. It’s one of those things in life that just eats away at your soul on a long enough timeline…. And I hate it so much that I raised my speaking fee to dissuade people from booking me! And wouldn’t you know it….
…It made no difference whatsoever. For the past three weeks, I’ve only been at home on the weekends. Every other day, I’ve been gone.
Last week, I spent a couple days in Ohio. On Wednesday, I woke up at 5 AM – eastern time, so 2 AM according to my biological clock – and have a meeting with my team. We Ubered (because for some reason we didn’t rent a car) from the hotel to the training center in 20-degree weather, and we ran through our training program for most of the day.
We’re 45 minutes outside of Cincinnati, so we had to rush back to the airport to catch a flight because I had to be in Phoenix for a gig on Friday. I landed in Phoenix after this whole day of non-stop action since 5 AM (which, again, is 2 AM according to my internal clock!) and guess what’s waiting on the tarmac…
Air Force One! Our President, Donald Trump, was sitting at the Phoenix airport, and those of us who were there for a layover (like my dear friend and head coach Christian) were delayed for literally hours because Air Force-frickin’ One wouldn’t let anyone out of the airport!
So, according to my internal clock, we’re approaching 9 PM – reminder that I’ve been running on fumes since 2 AM – and I got to my hotel/casino. Quick sidebar: I didn’t even know casinos were a thing in Phoenix. I am absolutely exhausted at this point (and I also need to pee really bad), so I’m basically brain-dead and going through the motions at the reception desk when I hear, “We don’t have a reservation for you.”
That woke me up real quick!
“What are you talking about?” I ask, understandably a little bit peeved.
“We don’t have a reservation.”
So, I call my office. They assure me that the client made the reservation, and can show me all the receipts and whatever. Sure enough, I look it up on my phone and see that I do have a reservation, but I don’t have a reservation number at the hotel.
If you travel a lot you know that no reservation number means no reservation. I thought, “Great!” (sidebar: this is not the exact word that I thought in the moment), and told the receptionist that I’d just pay for a room right then and there.
“We’re sold out. We’re fully committed.”
You’ve gotta be joking!!
It’s like 10:30 PM at this point, so I’m coming up on a 17 hour day, and I had the whole next day booked for meetings and strategy sessions. No way in hell I’m gonna do that if I can’t figure this out soon.
I started calling around, and the only place that had a room was the J.W. Marriott, which was 25 minutes away, so I called an Uber. The lady on the phone tells me the only room they have left is a casita that’s nice but super expensive.
Okay, whatever. I’ll take it.
Then, as if every hotel in the Phoenix metro area had a grudge with me, this stupid casino/hotel doesn’t let Ubers pull up to valet. Instead of walking three blocks with all my stuff, I tell the Uber driver to come to valet and that I will personally fight anyone that tries to stop him.
Yes, I even told the valet guy that.
25 minutes later, I get to the J.W. Marriott and the whole place is spread out so wide that I knew I would have to take the golf cart shuttle to get to my room. I go to the ATM to get some cash to tip the golf cart driver, put in my card, punch in the code…
Declined. I try another card.
Coming up on 11 o’clock, none of my cards can get anything out of this stupid ATM. I tell the golf cart guy that I’ll tip him tomorrow, and then he gets cold with me, but drives me to my room anyway. After that, it was still a walk to get to my room, and the guy was totally guilt tripping me with a look that says, “I’m waiting for you to pay me.”
Anyways, the moral of this story is that being successful doesn’t make you immune to inconvenience, especially if your career demands a lot of travel. Life throws a lot your way, and you sometimes have no choice but to run with it, even to the point of exhaustion….
…Also never trust clients to book your hotels!!
This week, it’s regarding Ford Motor Company, and their CEO (who probably isn’t going to be CEO for much longer), Jim Hackett.
Ford stock has hit a 10 year low after continuously withering since their previous CEO Mark Fields was replaced with Hackett in May, 2017. They’re currently hovering at around $8 a share while their rival General Motors is at $35.
Now, I got an idea. It’s a little out there, but bear with me.
There’s a guy out there that basically owns everything. Ford is running his software in some of their cars, he has this website where tons of customers go to buy stuff every day, he has the largest airline in the world… Of course, I’m talking about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and richest man in the world.
Think about it: more people have Amazon Prime than telephone lines. Why not let him buy up Ford?
Yeah, maybe you could argue that Ford’s heritage is important but so are the Detroit Lions to some people and they haven’t won in 40 years! Keep the name but roll that Ford stock into Amazon stock!
Imagine what’s going to happen when every country outlaws internal combustion and Amazon + Ford goes direct to consumers with electric cars. You know… like a certain company that starts with a T…
Imagine Amazon lockers in Ford dealerships so they can get foot traffic from people coming there to pick up books they ordered off of Prime and stuff, like Whole Foods.
So yeah, Mr. Hackett. You might as well call Bezos now because you’re not going to be there long, bro. I’ve already heard rumors that Amazon is in the market to buy a car company.
That makes perfect sense. It would be great for the dealers, great for Amazon, and definitely great for Ford. You know what? I should just broker this deal and take a percentage of it. The Ford family probably isn’t going to take that kind of initiative.
Up next in news with that certain company that starts with a T, Tesla just got permission to break ground on their German Gigafactory but they may be in hot water due to a 2018 crash where a driver relied too heavily on their autopilot system and died.
Now here’s the thing: with that in mind, do you think autonomous driving is more unsafe than humans driving?
Probably not. The only reason this makes the news is because it happened. Think of all the Teslas out there driving on autopilot just fine. If you compare that to human error, humans cause way more accidents.
Of course, it’s terrible that someone died but it’s still probably 10 times safer than humans driving.
5 Reasons Technicians Aren’t Efficient
Now I want to talk to you about five reasons technicians aren’t all that efficient. Whether they’re working at a dealership, an independent shop, a Walmart or a Costco, you’re going to see some things on that list that are probably going to surprise you:
Smoking and vaping… No, just kidding. Parts Department. That’s always what the techs say – it’s always Parts’ fault. I’ve never gone into a shop where they didn’t say that it was the Parts Department.
Texting. Kidding again, it’s the Parts Department. So to get further into it, the Parts Department can slow down production immensely. If a tech is working on, say, four repair orders a day and he has to stand in line for parts 10 minutes a day, those 40 minutes are money being wasted everyday. In the independent world, the service advisor is the Parts Department. The challenge is making sure parts arrive on time and are there for when a tech needs it because that’s no reason for why techs can’t hit the magical 100% on efficiency and productivity.
The Parts Department– no, it’s actually They don’t have a system. The really good technicians that flag a lot of hours have a system for how they pull in cars, inspect them, handle parts, and get another car going. Not only that but they’re consistent and they don’t take shortcuts. Another thing is that really good techs understand that a customer is attached to the car; a human behind every vehicle. It’s not just a vehicle when there’s a mom driving her kids to soccer practice and then has to be at work on time – she doesn’t have the time for her 2010 F150 to break down. Remember, repairs can be a time machine.
The Parts D– alright, I’m done with that. They don’t understand what the advisors are doing. They’re not working with the advisors and they don’t understand the process advisors go through. They just assume that the advisors don’t know how to get descriptions. There’s no communication. They prejudge based off of the advisor. Speaking of which…
Untrained service advisors. Service advisors who aren’t trained can’t close the deal, which means they can’t sell. They don’t know what they’re doing and they can’t connect with customers. Terrible advisors will kill the shop!
There could have been a number 6, but we decided to leave it off. (It would have been the Parts Department.)
Remember to send your questions to [email protected] or ask them on our YouTube and LinkedIn. We’ll send you some swag if it makes it on the air.
“Hey Chris, you mentioned the book by John Wooden. He has several books. Which one would you recommend to start with for our group?”
The best way to improve the team is to improve ourself.
Big things are accomplished only through the perfection of minor details.
Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.
Ability may bet you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
I will get ready and then perhaps my chance will come and if I am through learning, I am through.
If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do not permit what you cannot do to interfere with what you can do.
Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Character is what you really are. Reputation is merely what you are perceived to be.’
Those are Wooden’s favorite Maxims. There’s pages and pages of it in the back.
“I’m new to the service manager business. I need help bad. The previous service manager really had a bad reputation and so does the dealership itself. I’m trying to build it up and I’ve ordered your books. The problem I have is I’m over parts and service, but I’m stretched thin. I worked 6-7 days, 12-13 hours, and if someone misses, I fill the role. Most of the time I’m on the service lane myself. We write around 11-15 RO’s a day. 80% warranty, 20% cash. EOR around 88.7. I have four techs, one is a standout and the other three not so good. I’m in a small town and I will have to say it’s welfare infested. Techs are hard to come by here. I love to build the reputation back up. I feel like I take two steps forward and nine steps back, and I need help. Please.”
On the show, Jeremy took the reins with this one.
First and foremost, you got to look at your reptutation. You build it one client at a time. Just get everybody committed to delivering that five-star experience every time and in 90 days you’ll have a completely different reputation than what was in the past.
The other thing is coaching; who is there to support you? If you’re really feeling that bad about the dealership and the previous service manager, get some help. Get a coach to help you stay on track and get a priority list of strategies that need to be implemented.
Being a service manager can be a very lonely place sometimes so you need to surround yourself with some better people.
It’s funny. Dealers think the reason why independents do so well is because their labor rate is lower but most of the time it’s actually higher. It’s about the customer experience.
Set your standards and go make your history right now. What you’re doing is building your book of business the way that you’re going to do it. Make it happen instead of worrying about the past.
“I recently got employed by a dealership. Literally my first week. I am honestly very grateful and hungry to succeed. I would consider myself an honest service advisor when recommending services or whatever the case may be, and it has worked great at a mom and pop shop. But now that I’m at a dealership, they want you to push services such as additives, which I can in good taste, but I’m worried about pricing for my customers since I’m in such a competitive area: Miami. How can I sell my customers on the value rather than the price and the services they’re receiving? Also, do you have any good techniques to assure the customers fill out their serveys for my KPI score?”
Um… That’s three questions.
First thing I would say is, when it comes to additives, I wouldn’t sell anything that you wouldn’t sell to your mom. Now, if you’re working for a service manager that is more aggressive and not in line with your ethics, you probably need to do a little soul-searching there. But personally, I find that there’s so many things that we can sell customers. There’s no reason for us to oversell!
Second is value. What is value to a customer? What makes a good deal? The answer is when the value outweighs the cost, right? A lot of times in your role as a service advisor, you’re creating that value by making it easy, saving them time, keeping them in a safe, dependable vehicle, being personal, and always being available to them.
And you’ve got to be careful on the pricing thing because the lowest price sometimes carries the highest costs. Customers always want to drag you on a price because they’re not educated in the value of auto repair. That’s where petting the dog and being that trusted advisor will help you win the pricing war.
Great question. All of that is on this week’s show and thank you guys for tuning in. We’d really appreciate it if you share and subscribe, and we’ll see you again real soon.