When it comes down to it, there are tons of service advisors and managers out there, right? You might be one of the best or even the best at your dealership or service center, but how do you stack up across the market? The only way to find out is to line yourself and your numbers up against them and their numbers. In my coaching group, that’s exactly what we do.
One of the ways the advisors and managers in this group level up is through gamification and competition. For example, I recently announced the new Service Manager Challenge on Service Drive Revolution. The prize is a tricked out 2020 Jeep Gladiator. I’m talking gun rack, humidor, the whole nine yards. Intrigued? You should be. There are two ways to join the challenge that you can learn more about here.
On this episode of Service Drive Revolution, I also tell you which members of my coaching group won last month’s comp. Stacked up against other service advisors and managers, these guys came out on top. If you’re interested in joining us, you can learn more about that in the episode too. Maybe, if you’re good enough, I’ll be announcing your name as the Elite Top Dog soon…
At this year’s Top Dog event, an interesting question came up: What are the differences between the service departments that gross 30% and the ones that gross 50%? When comparing, the team that’s grossing 30% is often quick to make excuses. They assume that the difference is some sort of unfair advantage, like the markets are different or they have lower fixed costs for one reason or another. Next, they think it’s cuz the other team is working longer hours or more days every week. That might be true, but it’s not always it.
To find out the answer, we compared net to gross for service advisors at Top Dog. The vast majority of them were at 30%. There were a couple of people who were at 40% or 50%, but most were right around the 30% range. It occurred to me pretty quickly that the likely reason for this is that 30% gross is what we tell service advisors they should hit when they join the group. Most of the time, they don’t believe us when we say they’ll get there and say things like “Oh, I don’t know about that. That seems impossible. We just want to get better.” No matter how hard they doubt or push back, we say “No. You can and will get to 30% net to gross. The goal is 30.” So our coaches start working with them with 30% net to gross as the goal. Every time, once they understand how to implement what we’re teaching them in the group, they reach that goal and end up at 30% net to gross.
The problem is that once most people hit that 30% goal, they let themselves stay there. That was the big goal after all, right? It seemed unachievable before, so now that it’s been achieved, they go into maintenance mode without even knowing it. Instead of continuing to push for a higher net to gross, they stay at 30% and are happy about it.
My question is…why can’t we set the goal to 50%? The answer is that it can be. So I’m on a mission right now to change the mindset around that goal. Sure, we can start at a goal of 30%, but that’s not where we stop and put our feet up. We can drive and convert traffic, keep expenses low, and run a healthy, strong business all while being at 40 or 50% net to gross. It’s just true.
The only thing that’s stopping any of you from reaching beyond the 30% goal is your own mind. If you set yourself a goal, especially one that feels lofty to begin with, and then you hit it, do you stop reaching higher? Is 30% your full potential? I highly, highly doubt it. Cause if we're really applying ourselves to get better all the time, 30% doesn't mean we've arrived. It means we hit the first goal in reaching our untapped potential.
So I challenge all of you to really think about what you think your own full potential looks like. Where could you and your team be in terms of results if you really pushed yourselves to be the best you could be? I’m talking about sustainable efforts here too…not a crazy push to hit a goal that you can’t keep up with once you get there. I’m talking about operating at your full capacity on a daily basis without pulling any stunts or insane hours. What does that look like?
I also received some questions from service advisors that I’d be willing to bet a lot of you also want to know the answer to, so I answered them on this episode. Here are a few of them:
“I'm about to start a new career as a service advisor. I've been watching your content on YouTube and trying to learn what I can before I start. I’m 51, and I know in your book that is a little too old to be great at the job or at least it doesn't seem to be ideal from your perspective. I really do want to be successful and great at what I do. Any advice?”
First of all, it’s important to note that I don’t necessarily think 51 is too old for a new service advisor to succeed. The issue isn’t age here, it’s capacity for learning new things and doing things in new ways. At 51, some (if not most) people have established how they do things and how they view the world. They see someone and have immediate judgments because they’ve been around for awhile and seen some things, so they take shortcuts in deciding who someone is and what they’re about. But when it comes to starting a new career as a service advisor, these shortcuts won’t help you and may even harm your ability, so it takes a lot of unlearning in order to succeed.
if you take a service advisor or a service manager that is young and has no experience whatsoever, they’re a blank canvas without preconceived ideas. So you train them with the right tools and the best systems, more often than not they will outperform the advisor or manager thinks they know it all and is stuck in their ways. Their twenty years of experience can actually work against them. So I’d say that the first key to becoming a really good advisor at the age of 51 is to go into it with absolutely no prejudices or preconceived ideas of how things should be.
The second key to success is true for any service advisor–young, old, new to the game or really experienced: Collect customers. This means that you need to really connect with them, pet the dog, make friends and be your customers’ go-to person in the car business. That's the secret. You need to understand that the car is a commodity that anyone can service, but set up your game so that your customers feel like you’re the only one for the job. Make sure your customers feel valued, cared for, and safe in that they can trust that you’ll be ethical in working with them. You and your personality are what’ll set you apart from other advisors, so use it. In Millionaire Service Advisor, I give the example of my rich uncle…the guy I want to stay in good graces with. Your “rich uncle” is your customer base that chooses to spend their money with you. Nurture it and you’ll be golden.
“What are your thoughts on advertising maintenance prices online? These items are meant to be impulse purchases that will boost our effective labor rate. We just signed up with X time, and now, we have the option of posting an online service menu. Should we include our prices?”
The short answer here is: No, don’t include your prices. The point of posting online is to drive traffic, and putting all of your maintenance items and their cost online is not going to accomplish that. The things that customers perceive as competitive labor that will actually bring them into the service drive are oil changes, tires, batteries, sometimes brakes, but that's about it. You need to have two or three things that you're competitive on and those are the things that I would put up on the website. I walk through a bunch of other things you can do to boost traffic in this online Service Manager University training if you’re interested–I can’t give out all the tips for free–but I can tell you right here and now that it won’t be by posting all of your maintenance prices online.
If you decide that you do want to post prices, choose the ones that you know will drive traffic for your business and think of those things as loss leaders–services that aren’t necessarily big money makers but that will bring people in the door to spend more. If you can do that, go for it. If not, I wouldn’t do it.
“After listening to Service Drive Revolution, I realized the dealership I'm currently at is leaving lots of money on the table and is not willing to make changes to allow service advisors to reach their earning potential. Should I leave for a dealership that makes customer service a priority? If I apply elsewhere, what questions should I ask to ensure the environment is going to be good?”
To answer this question, I have an exercise for you. Sit down with a piece of paper and draw a line right down the middle. At the top, label the column on the left “Things I Can Control” and on the right, “Things I Can't Control”. Then, think about your situation at your current dealership and list things off that you can and cannot control right now. For example, as a service advisor, you can control how you approach customers. You can control your enthusiasm, you can control how you do walk around, how you pet the dog, how you follow up. There are a lot of things you can control, more often than not. Fill out the second column with things about the situation that are out of your control–how your manager views customer service, for example. Listing these out will make sure that you’re not making excuses for your lack of commitment to the role or issues with the dealership or service center.
For the second part of the question, how to know if a dealership cares about their customers when interviewing, there are a few ways you can go about it. One is to secret shop them. Go in with your car or a borrowed car for an oil change and see how it goes. It’ll tell you almost everything you need to know. Second, when you're interviewing with the manager at the shop, ask if you can talk to some of the advisors and then ask the advisors what their opinion is about company culture and how they take care of customers. Third would be to read online reviews. Sure, every shop will have a few people who are mad about their experience for unfounded reasons, but for a shop that’s solid on customer service, those will be few and far between.
And don’t forget to enter the Service Manager Challenge Jeep Gladiator Giveaway.