Johnson City

SERVICE MANAGER SUCCESS STORIES: MIKE RABBITTS

Congratulations to Mike Rabbitts of Johnson City Ford in Johnson City Tennessee for being a finalist in the 2017 Service Manager Challenge. Mike joined the Chris Collins Signature Coaching Program in October of 2016.  After the 2008 financial crisis, he transitioned into the car industry and has since developed a bustling service drive.

Here are the results Mike’s seen while using the Chris Collins Signature Coaching Program in the past year:

  • Net/Gross went from 0.02% to 15.6%
  • ELR increased from $82 to $95
  • CSI rose from 62 to 84

It’s taken some work, but you can’t argue with these results.

Read Mike’s story of success below…

MIKE RABBITTS: ROADMAP TO SUCCESS

I’d like to preface this with the fact that I had been a sales manager for the five years prior to being asked to run the parts and service department, and ALL my dealership experience had been on the sales side. Naturally, I initially considered my conversion from sales to fixed to be an impediment. To say I was overwhelmed and intimidated when I took over would be a major understatement. Coming from the sales side I, of course, had confidence and I expected to leverage my sales experience and create a customer-focused approach. I was also confident that I could grow the department. But how? No service experience, no process experience, no idea what ELR even was??? So, I set out on a journey with a destination in mind but no idea how exactly to get there. Where do I start? How do I improve the numbers that I don’t even understand?

I do have to admit that the timing of my move to fixed couldn’t have been any better. Our dealer group had recently contracted with the Chris Collins group and literally 8 days after I stepped into my new role I was at a Top Dog boot camp. Again, I was overwhelmed because I didn’t understand the numbers, how to achieve them, or how to affect them. I took the best notes I could and nodded in understanding, mainly so I wouldn’t be embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t. What I did understand, though, was the program’s customer focus and the fact that service really was more like sales than I initially expected. I thought “Hey, I’ve made a pretty good living taking care of customers and this was one of the goals, I can have an effect in this area.” I determined that if I made this my focus and took even better notes, we could improve the customer experience and, hopefully, the numbers would follow. Eureka, I suddenly had a road map.

Now I had a destination, and a road map to get there. All that’s left now is to drive, right? Drive. What an important word. Of course, Drive can be defined as navigating to a destination, which is applicable. Drive can also be defined as desire to achieve or succeed, which we needed desperately to reach our destination. Another definition for Drive is the chaotic stretch of garage space where lost customers aimlessly wander and long for attention; also known as the service lane. Fortunately, the Chris Collins road map would address each of these definitions. We immediately made changes to the lane that changed it from reactive to proactive (Judo/Pet the Dog). Implemented pay plans and spiffs that centered on CSI and building value in maintenance (Gamification). And most importantly, established a course that would guide us to our ultimate destination.

So now we are driving. Driving the lane with new and improved process. Driving CSI with customer focus. Driving the advisors with better pay and incentives. Driving the shop with more Customer Pay work than ever. Driving morale with fun and money.

So, what about the numbers? Would they follow as expected? Well let’s talk about them. Our CSI has gone from a monthly average of 62.2 to 84. Our ELR has gone from $81.97 to $94.87. Our Net to Gross has gone from <.02%> to 15.6%. We’ve had a 20% growth in gross year over year. Parts has grown from a 28% margin to nearly 40%. The greatest news is that, while these are all phenomenal growth numbers, we haven’t even reached our destination yet. We’re not done. We’re just getting started!

I’d like to think that I had a lot to do with the success. I’m sure I had some measurable role. My self confidence won’t allow me to take zero credit. Truth be told, I’m simply applying the Chris Collins program, following the provided road map, adjusting as needed, and staying the course. Remember, I didn’t even know what these numbers were 9 months ago. I am still learning what they are and how to affect them.

I stated earlier that I saw my lack of service experience as an impediment. In hindsight, I realize it was a blessing. I’m sure it’s easier to adapt and implement the strategies of the program because I wasn’t trying to change how I had been doing things. I didn’t have to change my own bad habits. I simply needed to follow the provided road map. The destination was to arrive at a fresh perspective to service, with a customer focus, increase the profits, and grow the total sales. Thank you, Chris, we are well on our way! The cool thing about a destination is that arrival is eminent. Each step gets you closer. Each turn can provide better views. Getting there is challenging, but staying there is more so. It’s a long uphill climb and you don’t get there overnight.

As it relates to growth and change and how long it takes people often say,”Rome wasn’t built in a day.” To that I say, “no it wasn’t, but every day they were building!”

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