July and August are two of the hottest months of the year. They are also two months that can make or break your sales percentages in service. It is during these months that many shops find themselves over-extended because of a sudden influx of customers. Business is hot! The average service advisor will write-up thirty percent more customers each day during the summer than they will during the winter, creating an invaluable opportunity to increase sales, customer retention and ultimately, survey scores. All of this potential success depends on how the increase is handled. This type of customer influx can usually be dealt with efficiently for a day or two, but by day three, the sales advisor’s job goes from one of advising and selling to one of survival. That is when word tracks are thrown out the window, walk-a-rounds stop, recommendations beyond what the customer requested cease, and technician inspections all but stop. It becomes a game of “how fast can we move the vehicle through the shop” rather than “how best can we serve our customer.” With that approach and mentality, sales penetration stops, retention takes a major hit and survey scores plummet. This situation occurs summer after summer, but it does not have to be this way.
To turn this madness around and transform what are normally bad months into your best of the year with these steps.
Step 1: Stay true to your process.
Think Starbucks here. When you visit a Starbucks, it does not matter whether there are one or one-hundred people in line. The process remains the same. Do not allow your staff to fall into the trap of rushing the check-in process, rushing the vehicle through the shop, and then rushing to deliver the vehicle back to the customer. Just as it takes a set time to make a drink at Starbucks, it takes a certain amount of time to properly work with a customer. Customers are very aware of being rushed.
Step 2: Do not allow service advisors or BDC to overbook.
Although high sales quantity and repair orders “look” good on paper, if your process and staff are not set up to handle the influx of summer business, you are setting everyone up for failure. The customer does not care how many people visit your shop- what they care about is the quality of the service they receive. If your process is set up so that each advisor can handle fifteen customers a day, then for every customer they write up beyond that number, two will get half the service they are expecting and deserve. As a service advisor in this scenario, when I help that sixteenth customer, I am realistically stretching myself too thin. As a result, I am going to rush them and give them half the time they need. I am stealing time away from him or her, resulting in my having core customers that are getting half the attention, half of the customer service and half the quality they deserve. You can see how an advisor that is set to work with fifteen customers and suddenly finds himself working with twenty customers will have at least ten of those customers getting subpar service. Goodbye customer retention. Goodbye sales penetration. And goodbye survey scores.
Step 3: Plan ahead for each day.
This is where you can truly make an impact. Either the night before or the morning of a sales day, preprint all of your customer’s repair orders. Meet with each of your advisors and review each repair order so that you both have a clear idea of additional work the customer may need based on mileage, history, or time passed since their last visit. By doing this, both you and your service advisors can mentally prepare for the day. You will have a clear understanding of the type of sales that are possible. You can review the areas where your service advisor may be weak and formulate plans on how to execute a given situation so that the service advisor can earn the maximum results. When doing this, do not underestimate the power of role-playing. These meetings should take no more than ten minutes per advisor.
Step 4: Have the service advisors make predictions.
After completing step 3, have the advisor write down their predictions regarding customer-paid repair order hours, effective labor rate and total dollars sold for the next day based on the pre-written repair order review-we have a form for this at Pro Talk. Call us and we will send it to you. Have the service advisor sign the paper and submit it to you. Engaging in this step makes the service advisor accountable on a whole new level. This new accountability will also maximize their success.
Step 5: Review each repair order.
At the end of each day, review each repair order that was written with the advisor who wrote it. Discuss the successes, discuss the failures and discuss what caused each of those successes or failures. This will allow you to identify success factors so that they can be replicated. It will also shed light on the failures so that corrections can be made. This step is of great importance. It is one thing to tell someone that they did a good or bad job- it takes on far more meaning to tell them exactly why.
Recently I was presenting a workshop and a service manager questioned the methods I just outlined. He wanted to know how realistic it is to execute all of this every day. Before I had the opportunity to answer him, another service manager in the room answered for me. He said, “Two years ago when I came to my first meeting with Jeff, I was skeptical too. I found Jeff to be right on the mark when he told me to prepare and prevent or repair and repent!”
Make the summer months your power months. You are going to have numbers at the end of July and August. Are they going to be the numbers you planned and prepared for and can be proud of or are they going to be numbers that you are surprised by and have to explain? Hot months should equal cool profits!!