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General Manager Career Path: Why Service Managers Make the Best GM’s

In the next 5-10 years as manufacturers switch to direct-to-consumer models and automates the sales process, what will be left as the core of the dealership business? Which department will act as the true pipeline for the general manager career path?

Fixed Ops. 

Service will take the center stage. That’s the mental frame we need to adopt as this evolution continues. There’s an advantage here for dealers and dealer groups. Start thinking of fixed ops as the future leaders of the industry. 

Salesmanship is going to change. There’s no two ways about it. And we need to get ahead of it. Our fixed ops departments can be PROFIT MACHINES with the right systems in place. Service managers can take advantage of this opportunity and get ahead. They will fall into the general manager career path much more naturally than ever before. I have no doubt in my mind.

attracting new customers

Service has a DRAMATIC effect on sales. 

Next, it’s important to highlight how a lot of GM’s don’t understand service. It’s just the simple truth. But it’s deeper than that. They don’t understand how much service impacts the entire dealership. When a customer has an issue with their new car, but they can’t take it into service for 2 weeks, GM’s just accept that reality. It’s just the way it is.

They don’t understand that the shop cannot stay booked 2 weeks out. It’s just no way to do business. It’s beyond inconvenient for the customer, and that inconvenience will shape the customer’s perception more than ANYTHING. 

Once I figured out how to really fix service departments, I realized how much of an advantage my dealership had. By making the service process quick, easy, and customer-friendly, I drastically improved our customers’ perception of the business. And I saw how that boost in satisfaction drove more car sales in turn. 

If want to pursue the general manager career path from the fixed ops side, you have an incredible advantage. You have much more of a handle on profit and customer experience than those who come up through sales.

5 characteristics of high-quality technicians

General Manager Career Path: Service Performance Creates Leverage

If your Fixed Ops is really profitable you’re putting serious money to the bottom line. You have some serious leverage. If you compete with big auto groups in your market, you have to understand that their dealers pay GM’s based off of market share. They’re not as focused on gross. You can put your foot on the pedal and affect the market and demoralize your competition.

Think of it like an oil change special, you can lose a little money to get customers in the store but move them up and turn a profit with recommended maintenance. It’s the same deal with an ad car. You can run a great marketing deal to get the customer in front of you, and then wow them by doing such a great job that you’ll still be able to get that money back in the finance department.

When you understand just how much impact and leverage come from the service department, it’s a no brainer why fixed ops is the future. The future may be somewhat uncertain for the car industry, but service isn’t going anywhere.

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