When it does happen to you, the natural tendency is to say “Oh man, we’re having a terrible month,” and invite the negative thoughts in. Once you start to head down this spiral, things can get dark. But I want to challenge you to reframe how you think about a slow month. With the right perspective, you can see a slow month of business as a great opportunity to get your act together.
Managing A Slow Month – High RO Value
The first piece of the slow month puzzle is remembering that slow times = high RO value. Most people just focus on getting more traffic, but you really should be doing more with less. You can find money every day by increasing your average per ticket. As a Service Manager, make sure to emphasize this point in the morning meeting. Get your team in 15 minutes early every day and make a game plan. Choose a different training focused every morning to get everyone on the same page.
Believe it or not, technicians and advisors tend to rush more during a slow month. I’ve seen it time and time again. And that’s usually because they’re worried if they don’t get through one job quick enough, they won’t be able to get another one right when it comes in. Technicians might blow off a car or rush through a repair or an inspection, hoping to get to the next one. Advisors might do a 5-minute write-up just to make sure they’re first in line to take the next ticket.
A slow month is your time to focus on the fundamentals. I always start with petting the dog, which is my term for great customer service. You can watch my video on that tactic here, but it’s a pretty simple idea. I had to choose between two surgeons to operate on my dog, and I was much more comfortable working with the surgeon that stopped to pet my dog. Slow months are the perfect opportunity to really build relationships with incoming customers.
In that same vein, we can really spend time crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s. We should be checking repair history and doing thorough inspections for every car coming through the drive. These are the difference-makers that actually improve your hours per RO and help build trust with customers.
In general, slow months are the best time to over-communicate with customers. You have the time to contact them more than you’ve ever contacted them before. Take advantage of this opportunity to make them feel really special. You also have more time to offer above-and-beyond perks. If you can provide pick-up and delivery services, your customers will really appreciate it.
Managing a Slow Month – Marketing & Prospecting
In the spirit of practicing and improving our daily processes, we should also be prospecting and marketing as much as possible. Now is a great opportunity to contact customers who got serviced 6 months ago, check in to say hello, and see if they might be due for an oil change, rotation, or what have you. Even if they’re not due for something specific, there’s no harm in checking and offering some kind of promotion to foster goodwill. Let them know that you value their business.
Events are also of course a great way to get customers in the drive, but It’s best to have events planned throughout the summer ahead of time so you don’t get caught flat-footed. We covered summer events on the podcast a few weeks back, which you can read about here. There are a few key holidays throughout the summer months of which you can and should take advantage. But if you’re creative and think outside the box, there’s tons of fun business partnerships to test out.
Controlling the Narrative
A lot of times, who’s the most negative person during a slow month? The manager. As a service manager, it’s crucial to control the narrative. The opportunity of a lifetime comes once a day. The speed of the leader is the speed of the team. Set a positive tone, and the team will follow. The manager needs to be the one talking about average per, maximizing every opportunity, getting on the phones to call people that are due for service, etc.
Set the pace of the day by doubling the games . Especially at the beginning of the month, double the payout of whatever games you’re playing to encourage the fundamentals. Shine a light on those basics and you’ll reap the rewards.