Why Service Managers Are The Dealers Of The Future

by | Jun 15, 2020 | Auto, Podcasts, Service Drive Revolution

The CRAZIEST thing happened last night! And no, this isn’t one of my famous Chris Collins rants or metaphors to teach you a lesson about business or leadership or being a better Service Manager or Advisor or Sales Consultant (we’ll get to that later… the episode is titled “Why Service Managers Are The Dealers Of The Future,” after all). This is just a really crazy story.

So here in Downtown LA, we’ve been hearing constant explosions since these protests started. Big explosions– like M80 fireworks or something like that. Every once in a while, it sounds like a gunshot.

Things have been tense, to say the least, and last night, for some reason, was really crazy. 

You would think the protesting and all that was slowing down, right? Nope, there was this huge explosion that sounded like a car bomb. It kind of shook the whole building so I got dressed, went outside to see what it was, and it was this guy down on the bridge.

Dynamite exploded in his hand. Dynamite! In his hand!! 

It looked like he was trying to blow up the bridge over the 110, Anarchist Cookbook kind of stuff, but he literally BLEW. OFF. HIS. HAND! He was running up the street with half his arm gone!

With a can of gasoline in his backpack!!

Why wasn’t this on the news? How does a story about a guy with gasoline in his backpack blowing up his own hand not make the front page of the LA Times? That sounds like a conspiracy if you’re looking for one…

I’m not telling anyone to get the hell out of Los Angeles or anything, but these are definitely some weird times.

On that note, but without any more body parts getting blown up, we started this week off with a simple question:

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen in a customer’s glovebox?

I’ve heard and seen some great answers to this question, ranging from wads of cash to bricks of marijuana to handguns and sex toys… And we want to hear from YOU! What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen in a customer’s glovebox? Let us know by posting in the comments on YouTube, facebook, messaging us on LinkedIn, or emailing us at [email protected], just like how you would to send in questions. Speaking of questions… The questions this week sucked!

What happened?? Usually we have tons of questions coming in– really great questions– but this week we had a bunch of really lame comments…. So much so that Jeremy is offering $100 to whoever asks his favorite question when he gets back from his family vacation in a couple weeks!

So with that in mind, remember that if you post a question – not a comment, a question – and we answer it on the show, we’re gonna send you some swag which includes a T-shirt, coffee mug, and we got new stickers that are pretty dope.

“Chris,

When it comes to MPIs it’s like pulling teeth to get them done. Is there a way that you have used to get them done to make it easier for me? I’ve been a Service Manager for six months and I haven’t made a dent in those numbers. Let me know. 

Thanks for the advice.”

… A way that I have used? I’m assuming you meant to say something along the lines of ‘method.’

Yeah, so I’m actually working on a course for this that I think you’ll enjoy! It’s called Leadership. It’ll be up on OnDemand pretty soon. We haven’t filmed it yet, but it’s shaping up to be one of the most ambitious courses we’ve ever put together. Stay tuned for that!

It always confuses me when Service Managers say, “Oh, my Service Advisors won’t do walk arounds,” or, “My Techs won’t do inspections.” 

When I hear excuses like that, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Who’s in charge? Who’s leading? Who is paying whom?”

I would have a hard time admitting that, personally, I just would. You’ve got to go look in a mirror and do some analysis of yourself and your leadership skills because you’re in charge and what you just said is the people that you allow to come into work every day and collect paychecks won’t do the thing that’s most vital for a company to be successful! I don’t get it.

It’s like owning a casino but not allowing gambling or owning an oil refinery but not allowing gasoline anywhere inside. What else are you gonna do? Shove the gasoline in some guy’s backpack?

Seriously though, think about what Service Advisors do and what technicians do; the one part of their job that is non-negotiable. If they can’t advise or perform service, then they can hardly call themselves an Service Advisor or technician!

Let’s say I come into your service department and we’re going to try to fix your problem… The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to find the techs that want to do it and we’re going to hold them very, very close. If I don’t have that, if I don’t have anybody that’s going be my model, I hire somebody who will. When I hire them, I tell them, “Listen. All these guys might not be here in a couple months. I’m holding you to a different standard. You’re going to inspect every car. You’re going to be the model, this is what you’re going to do.”

And I might bring in one or two new Techs to do that. Meanwhile, I’m going to start coaching everybody up. I’m going to gamify it, I’m going to have contests for inspections, we’re going to sharpen our knife and practice, practice, practice! I’m going to make it fun but, at the same time, the accountability is going to start to creep up and then I’m going to get rid of somebody! I’m going to draw a line somewhere and it’s very quickly going to become non-negotiable.

I wouldn’t be able to function if that was negotiable. It’s anarchy and you can’t allow anarchy. I would slowly start to close the box, but it wouldn’t take that long. I’m talking weeks, not months.

“Before COVID hit, I was gearing up to go more digital but, now that we are closed and after watching your video, I’ve decided to do a 180 on digital and bring back old school hands-on customer service. I feel like this could be such an opportunity to distinguish us from the pack and keep going into the future.”

I just let out an audible sigh because that’s not a question, that’s a comment. Like what do you want me to do, other than congratulate you? Clap?

“I feel like this content is seriously underrated and underviewed. With how many disastrous service departments there are, I would think more people would be flocking to this stuff. Maybe it’s because a lot of Service Advisors are still part of the older generations as less in-touch.”

Thanks. Is that you, Mom? But really, thank you for the nice, kind words. Very sweet.

“I saw your video about psychopath business partners. I just had the rug pulled out from under me by someone just like that and created a scenario where he got all the control and got all other partners to side with him and he took me for all my money, which was almost 30K and countless time and energy spent helping him. Jesus, when will they lose?”

Unfortunately, there’s probably no easy solution to this, because psychopaths are hard to get rid of. They feed off of the drama and they keep trying to gaslight you and make stuff up.

I can’t believe how many psychopaths I’ve dealt with in my life. It’s honestly my fault for letting them dupe me in the first place, but I’m getting better at spotting them. I’m a codependent, so I try to please people and I get taken advantage of in the worst way. It’s all about boundaries and holding your line. I pride myself on trying to be really fair, and this last psychopath we had working here took advantage of that. We could do a whole show on gaslighting.

But yeah, sorry that happened.

“I left a family-owned small service center and used car dealer to go to work for a BMW dealership. They told me that they don’t rip people off, then 3 months down the line I got multiple complaints from the Service Manager that I wasn’t selling enough. I will not tell a customer they need a 5K bill on a 1K car. After telling the Service Manager that the place was an overpriced scam center, I asked for my job back at the small, independent family-run center and went back. The way you talked about it in your video was the normal ‘tell them it needs something, even if it can wait another two years’ and, to me, that’s not acceptable.”

That’s another comment, but I actually have a response to this one…

We have never, ever, ever condoned over-selling a customer. In fact, we’re in the hundreds of how many times on this show I’ve said if you wouldn’t sell it to your mother, don’t sell it; treat customers like family.

Yeah, there’s definitely Service Managers that might take over a BMW store or Toyota store that over-recommends and aren’t ethical, but you shouldn’t work for them! I wouldn’t either! There’s no way I’d work in a service job where I was told I had to sell things that customers didn’t need. The thing is though, from your tone, I can’t tell if you’re a pain in the ass or if you really are ethical.

So you’re kind of a dick. Go start your own show instead of listening to ours.

With all that unpleasantness out of the way…

Why are Service Managers the future owners, General Managers, and leaders in transportation?

I don’t care if you’re a truck dealership, a car dealership, or an independent shop, Service Managers are going to be the new leaders in the industry and let me tell you why:

Because most General Managers or dealers came from the sales department. They know nothing about service. Their egos are tied to how many cars they can sell!

So when they wake up in the morning, they’re thinking, “How many cars are we going to sell today?”

If they’re sitting at a bar and you ask them how they’re doing, they’re going to talk about how many cars they sold and what their gross is most of the time. They know very little about service. In fact, I wish I had a dollar every time a dealer had told me, “Can you just take my service departments so I don’t have to deal with it?”

Literally, they only have it because they have to have it, right?!

So as the industry’s changing and manufacturers are doing everything they can to go direct-to-consumer, and as we’re going through this and factories are shutting down, there’s going to be disruption in the pipeline.

All of a sudden, service is sexy!

All of a sudden, fixed ops is where it’s at, right?

Now, the flip to this and what’s concerning and what’s dangerous is that, just like dealers, General Managers know nothing about service. Service Managers know nothing about financial statements. They know nothing about sales. Most of the time, a Service Manager came from a shop and they were the tech that was the most trustworthy, did good work, was ethical, and got promoted up through the ranks but never trained on financials.

Christian’s done a boot camp where a Manager of 15 years had never seen a financial! We see it all the time so we need to train Service Managers. We need to train them on financials. We need to train them on sales. One of the best things that ever happened to my career is I went to F&I school, and I sold cars because I come from fixed ops. I was a very successful General Manager, but I knew that I needed to understand F&I. I knew that I needed to understand salespeople.

Managing Service Advisors and managing salespeople are two completely different animals. It’s a completely different world and it’s an experience you can’t fake!

The thing that we take for granted in service is the traffic’s kind of coming in, and you don’t really have to work that hard for it.

I predict that eventually, probably within the next 10 years, manufacturers will consolidate and there will be some that go direct-to-consumer. I don’t think it’ll be all of them, but the dealership model will go away for those manufacturers.

And I believe that the Service Manager in that situation will become the new leader and will own the service shop. They’ll need to do warranty work, but they won’t need the sales department because they’ll go direct-to-consumer and the service part will be available as a franchise that can be bought by the Service Manager in some situations.

The dealer body that we have right now is so disconnected from service and how valuable service is, and they’ll just go away or go into other industries. They’ll buy other businesses like landlords but they won’t be able to wrap their head around just owning service shops. It’s not a match with their self-image, their ego, and a lot of Service Managers will end up owning these businesses in the next 10 years.

Mark my words. I’m very intuitive. In fact, I’ve been accused of being a psychic, clairvoyant, or whatever you call it.

I know I might seem a bit cranky, but maybe I’m still reeling from seeing some guy run down the street with his hand blown off.

We still appreciate everyone who tunes in and watches the show, because there wouldn’t be a show without you. We hope you have a great week and we’ll see you again real soon on Service Drive Revolution!

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