YOUR Return on Investment is MY Business©



March 25, 2021
Listen, I’m not telling YOU anything, if you have been in the industry even a short time you understand that talented help has been on short supply in the Automotive Dealership Fixed Operations realm for decades! Not just Sales talent either, key roles such as Parts, Managers, Parts Clerks, Service Advisors, Service Techs, just about every single position in a parts, collision or service department is typically “always hiring” because of this. Inevitably, this phenomenon has created a shortness of staff in these critical areas. Coupling that inherent lack of talent pool with any sort of disruption due to weather or other calamity, can mean TROUBLE and QUICK. Key players in your dealership often are left doing the work that would typically be spread out and allow a more quality and rewarding experience for you and your customer.

Path of least resistance

You know how the old saying goes, “water flows to the path of least resistance”. This is a very applicable analogy to many job functions in fixed ops. Let’s take a Service Advisor for example; A typical Advisor that works with a mix of customers needs to average 15 Repair Orders or around that number to ensure quality with each customer interaction and not be completely overwhelmed. I’m here to tell you, if you don’t know it already, in some venues this is an absolute unreasonable goal given the volume of customers to Advisors available. Even when properly spaced reservation intervals are followed, very few Dealers have the stomach to turn away walk ins. The result is often that Advisors are left to write up many more tickets per day than can reasonably be handled efficiently.

Necessary Evil deeds of an Service Advisor

Speaking of Service Advisors, there are many, many things an Advisor has to get done in a day. When busy, it’s an extremely hectic, detail and task-oriented job. I have worked as an Advisor, and a Manager for decades and worked with Advisors and Managers for years and years as a trainer and coach. I know first-hand that there are a lot of tasks that have to be accomplished in a day-in-the-life of a Service Advisor. Unfortunately, only your actual SALES PROCESS STEPS are the steps that put black ink on the bottom line for the Advisor and the Dealership. These tasks are the actual ADVISING part of the job. Everything else is a NECESSARY EVIL! Let’s face it, often in the rush of getting the transaction completed, that’s all we do and the relationship and ADVISING part gets skipped all together!

A guide of what NOT to miss!

Here’s a short guide of some of the most critical steps in any Service Advisor Process that MUST be executed in order to take care of the customer properly and ensure your sales process stays on track! As an Advisor, it’s still an obligation to let customers know what they need and why. It’s challenging when you are super busy to hit all of the process steps with passion. The trick is to not make your “All hands on deck” mode devoid of the important part…..ADVISING!
 Here are the basic bullets to a solid Service Advisor Sales Process….. these are the daily MUST DO’s
  • Research customer appointment details a day or so prior and CREATE A PLAN for their needs based on history and previous recommendations
  • On Customer arrival focus on the prime concern first, then WALKAROUND the car with a focus on at least these 3 items, use this brief time to build rapport away from others
    • Note and offer solutions to prior damage (Offer a FREE estimate for the repair if capable at your store)
    • Ask about or test the performance of their WIPER BLADES and offer to replace them if they are needed
    • Gauge their tires and mention the general condition of their tires and any immediate concerns (record type, size and brand so you can start getting quotes EARLY in the process)
  • Review history and offer to perform the required maintenance AT THE MIEAGE INTERVAL ON THE ODOMETER AT THIS MOMENT with a statement NOT a question. “I see you have 63,000 miles on your vehicle. We recommend that we perform A,B & C at 60,000 miles to keep your car in top shape. The investment is $699. Can we take care of that for you today?”
  • Obtain approval to review the results of your FREE inspection after it is completed “I’ll let you know if there is anything else the technician sees that we need to pay attention to, with my customers I want no surprises, OK?”
  • Considering the history – Create a plan to use in concert with the MPI results –
  • Ensure we are offering the same services as last time if some were postponed, be consistent in offering it again to build credibility
  • Inspect the car first and present any additional needed services within 15 minutes of arrival and before the customer is “Over it” and ready to get out of your store.
    • Take the customer dirty filters and compare to fresh ones
    • Bring customer to the vehicle on safety issues
  • Prepare a Prioritized Presentation of needs – This is FOR YOU….to both ORGANIZE your customers’ needs based on PRIME CONCERN, NEEDS NOW and MAINTENANCE items…..and to use as a presentation tool
  • Prepare your MPI form to show the customer – (leave prices OFF your MPI form….it can distract your customer from what you are telling them.)
  • Anything over $XXX.XX (fill in the blank for your store, probably around $200) present the CONSUMER CREDIT offering at your dealership…..HIGHLIGHT the SAME AS CASH features!!
  • Anything more than just a couple of filters, take the customer to your designated REVIEW AREA. if you don’t have one, figure out a spot you can take the customer or bring them to your desk to explain your findings. Use your point of sale materials like brake and tire displays. Try NOT to do it in front of other customers. Also do this when everything is Green to give them a “healthy report” or a “needs soon” list if there are Yellow or upcoming service requirements.
  • Explain the Estimate using the Prioritized Presentation Technique
  • Start with the Prime Concern and RELATED to prime jobs
  • Compliment the condition of the vehicle when appropriate and review GREEN Tires, Brakes and Battery when they are green.
  • Move to IMMEDIATE NEEDS and related items (Sell a brake flush as RELATED to part of the brake service…. etc.)
  • Next explain the items that your customer needs to “catch up” or that are preventative maintenance or YELLOW
  • Give the GRAND TOTAL price as the FIRST PRICE GIVEN, ask for the sale and wait for your customers response
  • If not all accepted, be ready to explain ”What YOU would prioritize and why” offer your PLAN “B” and be silent again to hear your customers response. If they are waiting, LEAVE your presentation and the white copy of the MPI inspection form, sometimes people will change their mind
  • Set your customers next service appointment reminder by making a statement not asking a question “I set your next Service reminder for 6 months out and we will call you ahead to reschedule if needed, OK?
  • Impress on your customer through actions, mannerism and words that YOU WANT TO BE “Their Person” in the car business for ALL OF THEIR NEEDS. Invite them to bring cars that have never been to your store for a special discounted oil change. Ask for a Perfect Survey with the customers you derive one from
  • MANAGERS: Spend time in the drive DAILY to make sure your players are executing and coach them if and when needed, set goals, post numbers and results and call people to action when DAILY when required.
If you can get consistent in executing these MUST DO steps within your process, I promise the rest of your job will get easier and easier. Especially in times of short-staff, let’s maximize the direct actions that create SALES to occur and remember ADVISING is the critical part of your job!
Good luck and make it pay!

Fairchild Automotive helped me to identify key areas to perfect our process and increase bottom line profits

~ Parts & Service Director – Large Toyota Dealership Read more testimonials

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