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Jumpstart Your Sales Culture in the Service Drive!

I’ve spent the last 40 years in Automotive Service Departments, I’ve worked side-by-side with Service Managers, Techs and Service Advisors. In the last 15 years it has really become a necessity for Dealerships to utilize a Retail Service Sales Process for customer satisfaction and the growth and profitability of the Dealership. On paper, I see a lot of great processes to address customers’ needs, wants and desires and create profit for the Dealership.

Unfortunately I also notice a tremendous amount of good intentions that never seem to come to fruition when it comes to execution of Retail Service Sales Processes. Plainly put, and for a whole host of legitimate reasons, some Service Departments struggle with accountability relating to their Retail Service Sales Processes. Let’s examine the essential elements to improve and maintain your process accountability for continual progress.


Do you set Customer Pay goals for your Service Advisors and Technicians? Setting and maintaining goals will generate higher performance and employee satisfaction. The question is really “What does success look like?”

Goals should Include and inspire your staff and stimulate them to be proactive.

When Advisors and Techs are involved in the goal setting procedure, they will be more enthusiastic about helping achieve the Dealerships Retail Sales marks. If Advisors and Techs do not know what Management is seeking to achieve he/she can’t conceivably distinguish what their specific role is? Precise goals equip them with the focus on exactly what the end result is supposed to be.

Retail Sales Goals should include the following considerations.

  • Be integrated into a Performance Pay Plan so they are constantly top of mind
  • Have staff involvement, agreement and commitment
  • Be challenging, but reasonable and attainable
  • Be simple to understand and relatively few in number
  • Have a duration (Typically Month to month or pay period to pay period)

Attainable goals give Advisors and Techs tangible things to strive for. Unworkable goals are destined to fail. Goals should not make Advisors and Techs jump through hoops or include a host of features they cannot control. On the flip side, the nonexistence of objectives can actually define whether a dealership performs to a stellar level, just gets by or ultimately fails. Concrete goals are a powerful weapon … .without them I have seen Dealership business shrivel up and die.


Examine the Customer Pay Sales Parts & Labor Key Performance Indicators (K.P.I.’s) that will be used to measure success. CRITICAL FACTOR: As a Technician or Advisor how do I know at a glance where I am scoring versus my established goal at any given time? Equally as important is ease of access and the visibility of the data. Supply your team up to date metrics with regular updates in conspicuous places. Post results in areas that are not customer sensitive but obvious to employees. Email distribution is another way to keep everyone connected. The visibility of your metrics scoreboard will bolster accountability and spur competitive aspirations in your team. Make sure you include comments of praise and action steps needed in areas that need attention.

Specific Customer Pay Goals for Service Advisors: There are two main K.P.I.’s as well as penetration levels (number of services per customer waited on) of the different services they sell. To set these targets use Dealership historical data as well as industry and group benchmarks established.

  1. Number of CP customers waited on
  2. CP Parts & Labor Dollars per Repair Order

(Below are the KPI’s that make up Parts & Labor per RO)

  • CP Effective Labor Rate (ELR X HRS/RO= Labor$/RO)
  • CP Hours per RO
  • CP Labor $ per RO
  • CP Parts Sold per RO
  1. Commodities sales like Tire, Brakes, Filters and Flushes compared to the number of Customer Pay Repair Orders written.
  2. Multi Point Vehicle Checkup Inspection / postponed services coding results (how many M.P.I.s and condition codes booked versus customers waited on)

Specific Customer Pay Goals for Technicians: Here are some examples that relate to production of flat rate hours, penetration of Multipoint Vehicle Checkup Inspections performed and number of upsold services that were recommended. To set these targets use Dealership historical data as well as industry and group benchmarks established.

  1. Total overall flat rate hours produced per day vs. goal
  2. Tech productivity (Hours Flagged / Hours at work) vs. 10 week average.
  3. Multi Point Vehicle Checkup Inspection coding results (how many M.P.I.s and condition codes booked versus customers waited on)
  4. Commodities sales like Tire, Brakes, Filters and Flushes compared to the number of Customer Pay Repair Orders written.


Accountability is not “Set it and forget it” item. Goals that are set and then never talked and discussed for feedback wither away, this can breed a cynical attitude about performance amongst your staff…..DON’T LET THEM DIE!!!! There are a couple of great opportunities to communicate accountability as a Service Manager. I have found the scenarios below to be really effective means in getting the correct type of communication accomplished consistently.

Weekly SALES PROCESS MEETINGS with Techs as a group and with Advisors as a group.

This sounds obvious but what I am really referring to is a SALES PROCESS MEETING. These need to be brief and NOT JUST A COMPLAINT SESSION. Review the Metrics and give specific feedback on areas of great performance. Keep the session light and positive when possible. Also, review what the areas that need the most focus are. Settle on just a few items and get the groups to buy in for a positive action plan. Make sure to carry these items forward to discuss for the next group meeting.

The Daily Felt Tip Repair Order Review –

This should take you 30 minutes max for the whole process here. Grab a couple dozen of yesterday’s RO’s and page through them stopping to make notes on the front page in felt tip markers related to Advisor and Tech process improvement and noting when processes result in success (Very important). Do about a dozen a day, once you have made your notations have each Tech and Advisor report to you for an impromptu One-on-one review. Call the individual to your office to go over your findings one at a time. During these encounters make sure it’s not ALL BAD. Encourage good behavior and highlight the instances where your people did a great job. People desperately want to be appreciated for sound work, and they should when they deserve it.

Correct behavior that is not on target as soon as possible and escalate issues of continual poor performance. Deficiencies you find during these communications are your focal points for additional training.


Obviously through rewards we are wanting to shape behavior for excellent performance. Rewards and recognition can be things that are monetary like bonuses but also benefits like time off or scheduling preferences. It is important to match the reward to the employee so that it is meaningful. Consider offering optional rewards. (Time off or $200, etc.)

Keep in mind recognition is a very significant factor in rewarding folks. Make sure to post accomplishments for the group to see.

For the initial period of rewards or focus on a process use a frequent rewards schedule and move to a variable plan where rewards are given with a little less regularity. Switch your focus often to keep it interesting and focused on different things. Make sure to make rewards directly related to performance of the metrics you are trying to achieve. Make sure to never stop rewarding.

In review, accountability and consistent execution of the Retail Service Sales Process on the Service Drive is a must these days if a Dealer is to thrive in the marketplace. As a Service Manager if you can keep yourself accountable to mastering the essential elements to improve and maintain accountability with your Techs and Service Advisors you can enjoy continual progress, happier customers and employees!

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