WHAT’S DRIVING CUSTOMERS AWAY FROM DEALERSHIPS AND INTO INDEPENDENTS?

WHAT’S DRIVING CUSTOMERS AWAY FROM DEALERSHIPS AND INTO INDEPENDENTS?

In case you missed the first episode…

For the last two weeks, we’ve been talking about The Carlisle Technician Study, which is a fascinating study that outlines the barriers between service technicians and service advisors, looking at the reasons why customers switch between dealerships and independents.

If you happened to miss the first part, go back and watch it first, because Jair told a fascinating story about seat belts that you can’t miss.

We talked about shocking stats we learned from The Carlisle Technician Study like

  • 43% of repair orders require additional clarification from the service advisor, costing each tech 30 min per day of follow up time.
  • 33% of customers are provided an unrealistic amount of time for the service.
  • Service advisors reported that customers get a realistic timetable for how long the service on their car will take 83% of the time

According to the study, the number one reason that would make someone switch from their dealer or repair shop is because their car wasn’t ready on time.

Seriously, can you afford to miss information like that? I gotta say, it really, really matters what service managers tell their customers. The consequences can be disastrous if the information they share is incorrect.

Okay, moving on…

In this weeks show, part two of our discussion about The Carlisle Technician Study, we talked more about the two biggest issues we’re facing with the technicians:

  1. The lack of communication between the service advisors and the service technicians
  2. The growth of Quick Lube, which has resulted in the least qualified technicians getting the most work while the skilled technicians get less.

This epidemic of breakdown in communication between service advisors and their service technicians is causing a bleed of time, money and the loss of customers. The service technicians feel frustrated and disconnected. This breakdown and loss of clientele to less-skilled technicians causes them to leave the business, further intensifying the problem.

So what’s the answer?
If you want your auto repair shop to thrive and prosper, then the following things need to happen:

  • Create GOOD communication between your technicians and your service advisors
  • Arrange training for your technicians
  • Create a growth or career plan for your service technicians, giving them something to strive for

In order to fix some of these problems, I suggested getting the service managers and service advisors together, making them walk over hot coals, starving them indefinitely or only giving them water for a couple days. But Gary didn’t think that was the best idea for morale…

Since Gary had a more doable approach, we’ll go through his tips to keep service technicians happy, feeling included and protected from leaving the industry:

-It appears everyone could benefit from increased communication, and it’s up to each shop to figure out how to get their guys to operate like a functional, effective team. I always lean towards gamification, as I’ve found that to be the most effective tool to date.

-It’s critical to focus on the guys you have in the shop; that means you have to protect them. One way to do that is to slow down! Most shops don’t want to slow down their technicians because time is money, but if time and money are being wasted, then slowing down to improve communication and clarify repair orders becomes vital.

-In order to retain your good service technicians, you need to provide a realistic career path for them. They need to get the kind of training that will help them be successful, and then reward them when they are doing well.

-TRUST. Whether you use gamification or trust building techniques, make sure your guys trust each other! The service technicians need to trust that the advisors are setting them up for success. The service advisors need to trust their technicians that if they give them clear instructions, the technician is going to work both hard and fast to complete the order on time.

Basically, the system has broken down. In order to rebuild, it requires everyone getting real clear on what each job requires. Then, how to work with the next guy in line to make sure he gets what he needs, so we can return the customer’s car on time and repaired correctly on the first go.

We know that if these things don’t happen, you’re going to lose the customer. It’s imperative to get the job done right and on time!

A PRELUDE TO THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

A PRELUDE TO THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

I feel like going down memory lane. Let’s go for a trip, guys, back to when I entered the automotive industry. Back in my early Seattle days, I was talented drummer determined to make it big. Picture this: a skinny, clean shaven (there was a time), long thick luxurious haired kid with 90’s grunge vibe. That was me. My band was just lucky to have a room to practice room. In typical 90s grunge style, the band room was typically destroyed. It had an odor more of a locker room than a band room. Sadly, our lead singer, Jimmy, ran at least an hour late everywhere. Even to band practice. On a typical day, my band mates and I would be waiting in our smelly band room for an hour. Finally, Jimmy would stroll in an hour late with a twelve pack of Milwaukee’s Best, 3 down.

TROUBLING BAND DYNAMICS

As you can imagine, this conflict of purpose kept causing issues within the band dynamics. As I mentioned, I had a vision to make it big. Jimmy saw the band more as a way to have carefree fun. I already had a grasp on the music business. Like any other business, results aren’t produced by wishful thinking. I wanted to establish a productive practice schedule to help us to continually improve. Contradictorily, Jimmy wanted to skip the hard work, throw ragers and pretend we’d made it already. Believe it or not, this is not when I had the epiphany to enter the automotive industry.

THE BIG BREAK

Suddenly, it seemed like we were getting a break. Mark Nafisey (a big name in Seattle music) saw a performance and invited us to rehearse at the N.A.F. Studios in downtown Seattle. Things were looking up. We began mingling Seattle’s finest: Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Grunt Truck, My Sisters Machine, to name a few- including that little band known as Nirvana. Our manager predicted this was the place to be to seen and she couldn’t have been more right. The idea was that mingling would provide us with a path to perform as undercards for the previously mentioned bands. Thus, establishing strong professional ties. A couple of weeks into rehearsing at N.A.F. Studios, Lane Stanely (of Alice in Chains) stopped by to check us out. Wouldn’t you know it, he dug us and invited us to be a part of his upcoming plans. He gave our lead singer, Jimmy, his number and told us to let him know if we needed any help with preparation. It was all very intense. I was 19 at the time.

Now it was time to join to big leagues, the realm of the professional musicians. N.A.F. Studios was going to run us 5 times the usual cost of rent, plus additional overhead. Not to mention, that problem I mentioned with Jimmy needed to be resolved immediately. As aspiring professional musicians, we literally couldn’t afford to rent space only to have our lead singer show up an hour into rehearsal. No more faking practice and raging. There’s no other way to put it- we were desperate for money.

ENTER THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

On that note, Jimmy had a connection at a local Volkswagen/Audi/Subaru dealership and we could possibly get jobs as lot attendants for extra cash. This would begin my adventure into the automotive industry. An industry that I now owe my life to. Reflecting on my entrance into the industry makes me very nostalgic. This industry will provide for you ten fold if you put in the effort. And boy, did I. Don’t want the story to end? Check out Millionaire Service Advisor for all the gory details and strategies to revolutionize your practices.

TECH MEETING VERSUS TECH PARTY

TECH MEETING VERSUS TECH PARTY

Back when I was starting out as a new service manager, there was one thing I consistently dreaded. Our regular tech meeting couldn’t have been more of a headache. Not just for myself, but my techs as well. I always came prepared with a list of topics. My list usually looked something like this:

1. Tech work stalls look unprofessional. Techs must clean up before clocking out.
2. Safety training: “Why We Wear Safety Glasses”
3. Review latest technical service bulletins
4. Inquire about shop equipment issues
5. HR reminder for mandatory insurance meeting next Tuesday

TECH MEETING FORMAT

At least half of the techs would arrive late. And at least a couple wouldn’t show due to a waiter. Pizza was served a form of bait if you will. It’s ill-advised to list out grievances to a group of hungry men. Even if I bought forty pizzas, there was never enough. Story of life, right? We’d take thirty minutes to chow down. The conversations during the chow down usually focused on the toppings they wish they had and who forgot the paper plates again. Once they were full and a little sleepy, then the tech meeting would begin.

THE LISTS

I’d make it through my list and, inevitably, a tech would pull out his list of grievances. Of course, it wasn’t really his list, it was the techs list. Prior to the meeting, the techs would decide what needed to be brought up and appoint the bravest tech to present it to me. The complaints usually focused on what happened in the last 2 or 3 days prior to the meeting. All valid points though. To make matters worse, our owner would sit in on the meetings. Most things were usually tabled.

Let me defend that decision. The matters that were tabled were outside grievances that I had little, to no control over. For example, factory warranty time constraints and why are techs across town allegedly making more money. This torture continued like this for a while. It wasn’t until a tech asked me before a meeting if I was nervous because I was sweating profusely. It was then I made the executive decision to stop this nonsense.

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

I decided we needed more structure to the meetings to end the chaos. First things first, I lost the “tech meeting”. From then we’d have “tech parties” limited to thirty minutes. It’d include a game with cash and prizes. And no more tech gripe lists. If anyone tried to slip one in, I’d invite him to my office to discuss it afterward. I’d also invite some other people from the dealership to join in on the fun.

I wasn’t messing around when I said it was a tech party. We’d dress up with ridiculous hats and Bette Midler-esque feather boas. Loud music or an action movie would be playing in the background. Depending on my mood, we’d have Wii games, limbo, casino games, or putt-putt golf set up to entertain the techs. I also nixed the pizza. It was too costly, took too long, and made everyone sleepy. But in light of all the new changes to the meetings, no one missed it. Techs even started showing up early for the meetings. Sometimes the techs would get so competitive, the joy could be heard in the waiting lounge. Now that’s what I call a successful tech meeting.

LESSONS LEARNED

Some of our finest moments of growth come out of the times when we felt unformattable, unfulfilled, and unhappy. Now, stay with me for a second. These negative emotions can really pay off in the future. They’re the exact motivation we need to get up and change our circumstances. These emotions motivate us. For some reason, when you’re dissatisfied to the point of frustration, you become hyper-aware of changes that need to be made. That’s exactly the point I reached with my tech meetings. And I couldn’t have been happier with the resulting new tech parties. Neither could my techs, for that matter. Try shifting the tone of your tech meetings to a party. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. For more helpful techniques, check The Irreplaceable Service Manager to help you transform your department, today!

SERVICE ADVISOR TRAINING: CIRCLE OF TRUST

SERVICE ADVISOR TRAINING: CIRCLE OF TRUST

In today’s environment, where customers want everything now and for free, it’s essential we build trust and credibility with our customers. Particularly because the service we provide is unique in and of itself, other sales strategies are not going to work here. We are selling a product that most of customers have never seen before and wouldn’t know how to double check the work. You have to establish a connection with the customer to gain the trust and the confidence that you will take care of them. Most of selling in the service department comes down to if the customer likes and trusts you. This Service Advisor Training centers on the Circle of Trust. It will help you accomplish and increase your customer retention.

Let’s start from the beginning with establishing an Instant Connection. Nothing kills connection quicker than making your customer come and find you. Hopefully, you all are already meeting your customers out on the drive. So, when you’re meeting the customers at their car, never ask the stereotypical questions like “What brings you in today?” or “Do you have an appointment?”. Instead strike up a conversation based on what is important to the customer. Remember the car is a commodity and not their passion.

When you’re doing the walk around with your customers, your goal should be to connect with them on a deeper level, Pet the Dogif you will. Talk about things like their pets, their kids, their work, favorite teams, really anything but the car. Build trust and a connection like a friend would. Service Advisor Training Pro Tip: imagine your customers were over at your house for a barbeque, what would you talk about? Focus on that as you’re leading the customer around the car checking for bumps and bruises.

Back in the 1950s, service advisors didn’t even exist. Most of the time customers pulled right into the shop and dealt directly with the technician. Part of your role as a service advisor is to make sure your customers are maintaining their car and that they understand what the car is due for. Check the History and Advise accordingly. Most studies show that customers generally aren’t maintaining their car because they weren’t informed or the maintenance due wasn’t communicated to them effectively. Bring your customers up to your desk, check their history, and clearly advise them on the maintenance issues at hand.

Whether you’re doing a 20 point inspection or a 58 point inspection, I personally recommend the 32 Point Inspection, introduce it upfront with your customers. Approach it by saying, “While the car is here, the technician will look it over for safety issues.” That way when you call your customers with any safety issues the technician found, they won’t think that you’re just searching for work. Quite the opposite, you’ll look like the hero you are.

Don’t beg for CSI at the end. Here’s something most service advisor training won’t tell you. Commit to CSI Upfront. Some of the service advisors I’ve seen just look like homeless people begging for a handout when they wait until the end to mention CSI. Commit to the customer upfront that you are going to provide a high level of service and that their feedback is appreciated. Then you only have to gently remind them at the end of their appointment.

One of the biggest mistakes service advisors can make is that they don’t Tell the Truth. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, writing the report and trying to build rapport with the customer, to over promise. Don’t say you can have the car done by 2 o’clock when you don’t yet know what the car needs. The idea is to under promise. Service Advisor Training Pro Tip: make the window for the appointment as long as you can. The longer the window, the more likely it is to add additional work to the RO. Properly set the frame upfront so you’re not causing any disappointment on the backside.

Sometimes a tiny little, seemingly insignificant, gesture can show huge rewards. Say for example, you send your wife or girlfriend flowers at work unexpectedly. For the rest of the week not only are you getting lucky but she feels amazing after having received flowers in front of all her friends. It’s the same thing with our customers. It’s usually standard procedure for the customer to call the service advisor wondering when their car is going to be done. I purpose incorporating a Two Hour Call to distinguish yourself from all the other service advisors. Keep track of when you wrote the customers up and as close to two hours as you can, give them a call. Even if you have nothing new to report, just let them know that you are just checking in. It’s as easy as saying “We’re still waiting for the technician to look at your car but I was thinking about you.” Touch them before they have a chance to touch you.

Once the technician has checked out the car and given you an inspection sheet, Call with a Diagnosis. If they’re in the waiting room, be sure to bring them into your office to present the work privately. When you’re presenting the work, always present value first and price second. Most advisors tend to list out the price for each individual piece. All the customer is going to hear is the numbers. It’s critical that you sell the value before you sell the number.

Get the car Done Early. Even if you know you can get the car done by 3 o’clock, tell the customer 5 o’clock. Then it’ll be a pleasant surprise when you call at 3 and tell them their car is ready to be picked up. Remember, under promise and over deliver.

It’s imperative that you have a system in place to guarantee Quality Control. It’s a tiny little extra step that makes all the difference in terms of CSI. Inspect the cars as much as you can. Make sure they’re washed, the keys are upfront, that there’s no new dents before you call the customers to come pick it up. Don’t fumble the ball at the 1 yard line.

Make sure that you touch your customers when they come to collect their car so they’re not doing the Walk of Shame to the cashier. A lot of times when customers come in, they’ll go directly to the cashier. They’ll leave without the service advisor reviewing what was done and what work will be due at their next appointment. You should always be reconnecting with your customers before they leave. There’s a couple ways you can accomplish this. One, you can withhold the paperwork from the cashier. That way the cashier has to inform you when your customers arrive. Or two, when you call your customers to inform them their car is ready, ask them to come by and see you before they go to the cashier to review the appointment. It’s at this point that you should remind them of your commitment to CSI and to be expecting a survey from the manufacturer.

The last link in the Circle of Trust and the key to making money as a service advisor is Be There Next Time. Stay in one place for a long time and collect customers. Selling will become the easiest part when you customers like and trust you. The hardest part will be staying in one place for a long time. But when you’ve been at a dealership for 3 years, you’ll have customers coming back specifically asking for your assistance. Start with little steps. Make it a goal to connect with 2-3 customers a day on much deeper level. Bear in mind that repeat customers mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. Stay in one place and become a fixture, an icon, in your dealership and reap in the rewards.

With these Service Advisor Training tips you now have the information to help you thrive as an advisor and create a Circle of Trust between yourself and your customers.

1. Instantly Connect with your Customers
2. Pet the Dog
3. Check the History and Advise
4. Introduce the 32 Point Inspection
5. Commit to CSI Upfront
6. Tell the Truth
7. Utilize the Two Hour Call
8. Always Call with a Diagnosis
9. Get Done Early
10. Ensure Quality Control
11. Avoid the Walk of Shame
12. And… Be There Next Time.

So get out there, put these tools to the test and I guarantee results.

SECRET TO SUCCESS

SECRET TO SUCCESS

Something has been disturbing me recently. I’ve noticed people frequently misusing the word success and as a result this has caused mass confusion. The common misconception is to liken success with money. Of course there are successful people with a lot of money who a living very lavishly but that is besides the point. The Secret to Success is how you perceive yourself and how the world perceives you as a result of your contributions.

THERE ARE 3 DIFFERENT FORMS SUCCESS TAKES:

Internal, External, and Transcendent. It is crucial you take advantage of all 3 forms of success so that success is palpable.

Internal success is the movie reel in your mind’s eye of your vision of success. This internal compass of success is guided by how you feel about yourself. It’s relative to you and no one else. It’s somewhat idiosyncratic in that respect. For example, people will tell you that I’m successful but I personally feel l haven’t lived up to my full potential yet. It’s what you see when you look in on the window of yourself. External success is how the rest of the world perceives you. Which is very important factor because you’re not going to take advice from someone who’s broke or poor on how to run your business more efficiently. No one wants a fat trainer at the gym. You aren’t going to find a lot of success blatantly being the opposite of what you’re selling.

Now, the internal and external success factors could be in complete conflict of each other. For example: You could appear externally successful but inside you’re miserable. Another common way this conflict manifests itself is when people are pursuing a goal and haven’t quite attained it yet. The solution? Utilize transcendent success.

THE TRANSCENDENT SECRET TO SUCCESS IS HOW MUCH YOUR DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES AFFECT THE REST OF THE WORLD.

It’s how your work improves the lives of your neighbors. For example: Say you are a plumber. How much does your plumbing transcend: how many plumbers are you mentoring? How many customers are you touching with your work? There’s always a way to transcend your little world and expand. And when you nail transcendent success, your internal and external success will balance each other out.

Most people are continually looking to the horizon for new opportunities instead of maximizing the opportunities they have right in front of them. The key and real secret to success is to just look down and be grateful for what you have. Put passion into your work to become the best in your field and provide a real value for people. And then watch how many more doors it’ll open for you. Success doesn’t adhere to superstitions or luck. The true Secret to Success is most simply the value you give the world, the people around you, and your career. The more heart and soul you pour into the world, the more success is going to rain down on you.

SELLING MAINTENANCE IN THE SERVICE DRIVE: SERVICE ADVISOR TRAINING

SELLING MAINTENANCE IN THE SERVICE DRIVE: SERVICE ADVISOR TRAINING

Go with me on this quick story. In the end it will help you in selling maintenance in the service drive. So, the other night I had an intense dream. And I know what you’re thinking, out in the midwest- Chris moved to California and completely went native. Not so, I’m not a foofy vegetarian who’s all about brussel sprouts. That being said, I do think dreams are occasionally revealing. I suspect my dream was inspired by a conversation I had with a chemical rep recently.

Of course, this sparked a curiosity about dreams in general. Let me tell you, researching dream analysis lead to some interestingdiscoveries. So many people are constantly dreaming about absurd sex fantasies and the analysis that accompany these accounts are some real gems. Some other common themes include mansions, death, kissing, and pizza. I myself don’t dream that often which supposedly means I’m not entering REM sleep… but I digress. Where was I? Ah yes, my dream. So in my dream I was cornered by a ferocious bear. Luckily, I had a shotgun and plenty of time and room to aim but I froze. It was as if I was in a solid block of ice.

AND I BELIEVE THIS IS A COMMON FEELING AMONG SERVICE MANAGERS WHEN SELLING MAINTENANCE.

Hear me out.

The chemical rep I mentioned earlier started out in the industry in the 80’s selling and servicing coolant machines. Once a month he’d spiff the service advisors $2 for every coolant exchange sold. One service advisor in particular, Woody, would sell over 100 coolant exchanges every month (compared to a combined total of 4 between competing service advisors, which is a ridiculous disparity). So he would come and give Woody his $200 and give the others their $4. And one day he couldn’t help himself anymore and confronted the other advisors. He asked why is it that Woody, who’s at the same drive with the same customers, the same opportunities, is out selling them 50 to 1. The advisors claimed it was because Woody cheats by suggesting coolant to customers who are due for an exchange.

THIS, OF COURSE, IS NOT CHEATING.

It is your duty as a service advisor to check the history and advise your customers accordingly. A lot of service advisors freeze, just like I did in my dream, and consequently aren’t taking proactive steps. The bear in my dream represents how hard it is to sell customer pay labor these days. Selling Maintenance is really all we have. At least a quarter of your CPRO count should be alignments, the easiest maintenance to sell. When you ask customers about maintenance, your closing ratios are going to be considerably higher than the 0% you have when you don’t ask.

This summer, as leaders, we need to get out of our offices and onto the service drive and melt the ice, so to speak. If you’re a service manager, role play with your service advisors on how to sell maintenance, hold them accountable, and check ROs to make sure they’re either offering or on a decline line to market to it to customers at a later date.

So let’s have the best summer ever, get out on the drive and sell maintenance!