People are talking about the new stuff we have. It is the new stuff that everybody in the industry has been craving for. Our system isn’t like what most traders have where people are coming into the workshops, and then they leave and go back to their dealership and maybe have a couple of tours while they are motivated that will last a week or maybe a month.
We are creating an environment where service managers are trained. We are giving the resources they need because service managers seem to be the least trained person in the whole dealership, second to the service advisors as the least trained. Also, we’re creating an environment where they’re supported, were they’re given the resources to succeed and a timeline where they’re taking a chunk of time. This is not just “Hey, come in this workshop and learn everything you need to know in one workshop and then go home.” and then they left without the support.
We’re creating a culture and an environment in this industry where we are helping each other. We’re getting everybody to work together and everybody sharing ideas and I think that’s why we have come from zero to a hundred that fast. We have everybody. All of our clients are contributing to our system because are also sharing with everybody else. And so it’s that family atmosphere, we’re that village I guess.
Some training programs give you the idealistic version of how service department should be, and then you go back to your dealership and says, “It’s so different here in my market, it snows all the time and I’m going metro market and it’s different than the guys out in the country.” We’re getting, “Hey here’s other guys that you know have the same exact environment you are and they’d been where you’re at.” You know we put them together and we help them through the steps and help them succeed and it happens very quickly.
Our internal motto in our company is 90 days to your best month ever. We just finished in Chicago dealerships, we have increased their customer pay sales dramatically, and their net grows dramatically. I mean the results, they have a record month, and the best month they ever had. And I mean 10 years of best profit they ever had all in 90 days by implementing our system.
But I think that if you want to a workshop, you wouldn’t be able to get that. I mean you need the support of the community in order to move that fast and to get results that fast. So, your company doesn’t just comment and give all these numbers and point out the mistakes and the wrongs and then leave.
No. You are there for the long haul.
We surround the dealers and the managers with other managers that have been working with other managers that are now performing high level. We create a community where we share with each other and pushing and encouraging each other because it is being in management. The higher up the ladder you go in our industry the lonelier it is and so you need to surround yourself with talents that will give you honest feedback but will also encourage you and say, “Hey, I’ve been there.”
I think it’s the twelfth step in thinking courage, I could be wrong in number but it’s about the mastermind. The key to our success is that we create a community that everybody is masterminding together and helping each other and encouraging each other.
When you started in this auto service industry, you were right at the bottom. You were washing cars yourself, if anybody can say, “I know what you’re feeling” you can do that. That’s a big advantage. I think with our company, everybody that works for me is from the service side of the business and I think for a long time, service and fixed ops is the afterthought in the industry. A lot of guys that couldn’t be trainers and consultants that couldn’t make it on the sales side.
You have really talented trainers in the sale side that might think they couldn’t compete with the sales force and just say, “Oh, we’ll train service.” But what we see from the feedback that we’re constantly getting from the dealership are like “Wow, your training really is great!” You really get the service side because they take sales training and then they pop it over the top of advisor training. But it really doesn’t work. You can’t teach a service advisor how to close a customer. It’s a completely different transaction.
Our industry is completely about relationships. And the game is intentionally in getting the customers to come back over and over again. So, when you see trainers saying, “Hey, you know you going to practice your closes,” really, it’s the wrong approach. And people in the industry, in this service industry get that. They understand that because if you find yourself, if you can imagine you taking your car for service and the service advisor suggests that you do a service, let’s say a service on alignment to prevent tire wear or something and you go, “I’d like to think about that.” And then they go on to some sort of close that inquires on what you want to think about. And then ask you five times and then call you later on and ask you again. When you come to pick up the car they would ask you again.
That’s the kind of training out there and that it’s all about, “Hey if they are going to ask you five times, you’re going to be the lucky ones in a while. But that isn’t what consumers want. The new consumer is more educated and they understand relationships. They don’t want to be sold and they don’t want to be pushed into anything and they have really good BS detector. They understand when they are being pushed and when they’re being sold.
When someone wants to get their car service, they have the fear that they are going to be BS. They are going to be talked into all of these extras, all of these things that they don’t want to pay for. Let’s be honest, most people don’t want to spend on things especially if it’s pushed in your face. So, there really needs to be a relationship on trust. Customers can feel and say “I trust you, you trust me I can feel that you’re comfortable and not screwing me.”
And you can feel it right away, right? You can feel when you drive in that tension, that like you’re a deer that you can feel the hunter is hunting you down.
You know there’s this package for $499, or this package is $599 and I don’t even know what that is and why I need that. So, you have to let customers know that and make sure that it’s a little bit of a softer blow to a customer.
Unfortunately, in our industry, that worked 10 years ago because the service advisor wasn’t doing anything. So, if you think that it is better to ask five times than not ask you at all, if you’re going to ask five times you’re going to sell more, but you are not going to retain the customer and get them to come back. So, what we have in this industry is what we have during the recession. We didn’t sell as many new cars and there is fewer cars coming into the service department and your traffic is down and will be through by end of this year and into the beginning of next year. So, if you’re not retaining your customers and you are not creating relationships, you do not only fail to get back for service but you’ll also lose them in the sales department because they’re going to go for another brand.
I would think that during this time where there is a recession, people are probably trying to hold on unto their cars a lot longer and that is where service is even more important. They have to maintain if they are going to hold on to it for a while. And I’m going to a lot of friends that aren’t loyal to a brand anymore and it’s odd. It’s like for the longest time since my grandfather bought Ford and save his money and every 3 or 4 years he would go down and buy another Ford and then pay cash for it. The consumer now, most of the time are leasing or financing. They don’t own a car; they don’t have the same connection to what my grandfather had because he thought that he was really protecting his investment when he maintained the car.
Now, leasing or the financing for years and for them, the car now is almost disposable. You have to understand that dynamic creates a system in your dealership while you’re retaining the customers and creating those relationships. Otherwise, you’re going to lose them to another brand because they will just try other brands as they go. Our friends they had a Ford and planning the next time to get a Mercedes and then Lexus and then a BMW. They just going to jump around and have no loyalty and no service advisor ever created a connection with them that will make them feel safe in a relationship that they would want to go back there.
As a customer myself, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what level you could be at, you could be selling lemonade on the corner. People want customer service and they want to be spoken to like a human and have a solid relationship with that person. So I think you’re headed for the money there.
That’s what all of our system and why they’re saying in the industry that we have a new stuff that everybody wants and our systems create an environment for the customer that they graded instantly. When they come in, within the three seconds of coming in, they’re being graded and have a plan for them that will take away all of their worries. When you take away all of the customer’s worse worries and decision making, they don’t have to wonder when they are standing at their car door like “I don’t know if I find an advisor or are they going to come out.”
When you create that environment, it’s their worries that you have to take away. You have to create an environment where you grade them instantly and tell them what the plan is and give them instructions but not in a bossy way. But giving instructions in a way that will take away their worry like “This what’s going to happen,” and make those things to happen.
The service advisor needs to come out into the customer at the car and then when they come out to the car, you don’t want to approach the customer with, “What brings you in today?” nor “Did you come with an appointment?” It’s more like, “Hey, what did you do in this weekend?” or “What are your plans today?” or “Where you headed?” In our industry, all manufactures will survey customers for customer’s satisfaction after the fact. And when service advisors get bad ones they will complain, “Oh, this customer gave me 50 or they gave me 3 instead of a hundred.” And I’ll ask him, “Let me ask you a question, where does your customer works?” and they like, “I don’t know?” or “How many kids does the customer have?” or you know, “What are their hobbies?” the advisor would say, “I don’t know and it’s not about the car.” But it’s what everybody needs to understand.
So let’s say if people feel safe, they spend money.
We have a thing in the industry, it happens when all this public company is running dealerships like Best Buy. And so customers are just like commodities to them and they just want a market. That’s all they want, they don’t care about comfort because it’s a public company and comfort is not different from your family, or a dealership that is focused in profitability or the return on their investment. When you’re using Wall Street money, you don’t have to run things as tight and they are more worried about consistency than their results.
So, what happens when you’re competing with that as a family in a dealership is that, if you don’t have another approach to that or another way in creating a relationship with customers, you are just competing on price and cars just as commodities and anybody can go buy a Ford anywhere. They can shop on the internet and get the Rolls price and that’s where they going to buy. So you want to make it about the relationship and not about the price.