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Dealer Service

Are You Making What You Should in Fixed Ops?

If your Net is not increasing, compare your year over year Sales, Gross Profits and Expenses to help you determine if your Sales and Gross Profits are too low or if your Expenses too high … or is it BOTH?

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Don Reed is the CEO of DealerPRO Training

The importance of a Profit Improvement Plan

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In order to improve your service operation’s performance and start producing the net profit you deserve, let’s first answer a few questions:

1.Are your service operation’s net profits increasing over last year’s?
2. Is your service absorption improving year over year?
3. Is your CSI ranking in the Top 10 percent of your franchise?
4. Does customer pay (CP) owner retention really matter?
5. Do you have an on-going training process for growing top performers?
6.Are your managers leaders or administrators?

There is a lot to talk about when answering those six questions. The first five call for a simple “yes” or “no,” so, obviously, if you answered “No” to any of the five then you most definitely need a plan. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and answer question number six for you and say “administrators.” My reason for this answer is really simple logic: Your managers are the ones responsible for creating the results that produce the answers to questions 1 through 5.

If your service operation’s net profits are not increasing over last year and service absorption is stagnant with your CSI hovering around “group average,” then I can only assume customer pay owner retention is not a top priority for your management team and there is no on-going training process for your service and parts team due to a lack of leadership. This does not mean you have bad or incompetent employees and managers, but what it does mean is you need a profit improvement plan — now!

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So, whether you are a dealer, a general manager, a fixed operations director or a service manager you have to have a plan. This plan must be in writing, it must be specific, it must be attainable and it must have accountability for completion. Sounds simple enough; so, how do you build a profit improvement plan specifically for your service and parts operations?

Let’s begin with your most recent financial statement along with the same statement for last year and compare the two in order to answer questions one and two. If your net is not increasing, compare your year-over-year sales, gross profits and expenses. Take a look and determine if your sales and gross profits are too low or if your expenses are too high — or is it both? After analyzing more than 1,500 dealership financials, we have most often found that dealers are doing a good job controlling expenses, but their gross profits are too low. If this is the case in your store, then here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) for you to use when looking for opportunities for improvement in your service operation’s performance: (By the way, if you are in a 20 Group, then this is already done for you in your composite)

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· Labor Margin @ 75 percent of CP sales
· Parts Margin @ 42 to 45 percent of CP sales
· HPRO Main Shop @ 2.5 (Yes, there are many dealers averaging 2.5)
· HPRO Quick Lube @ 1.0
· Policy Adjustment @ 2 percent of total service gross profit
· Service Net Profits @ 20 percent or more of gross profit
· Parts Net Profit @ 30 percent or more of gross profit
· Service Absorption @ 100 percent

OK, so there are some key financial metrics to assist you in your parts and service performance analysis. Now, here are some key performance metrics (KPMs) for your fixed operations management team to use in building your plan:

· Number of CP and warranty repair orders per day per advisor @ 12 to 15
· Total shop productivity @ 120 percent (number of flat rate hours produced divided by the number of clock hours worked)
· Parts and labor gross profit produced per main shop technician per month @ $17,500
· One-item ROs @ 15 percent or less
· Service Advisor’s Closing Ratio @ 50 percent
· Multi-point inspection completion rate @ 95 percent
· Maintenance menu presentation rate @ 80 percent

Once you have gathered all the information outlined above and determined where your opportunities are for profit improvement you can then move to the next phase of your plan: change. I’m guessing you’ve heard the saying, “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” Sounds like change is not optional and must be a part of your plan. If you are all in on making some changes, you must identify what needs to change and, more important, how you’re going to implement those changes to get the results you deserve. These changes will obviously have to address what you plan to do to have a positive impact on your out-of-line conditions as determined with the above exercise. Here is an example:

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· Your three service advisors are each servicing 18 customers a day for a total of 54 customers
· Your KPI is 12 to 15, so do the math and you actually need four service advisors
· Plan of Action: Hire one service advisor and now your four service advisors are averaging 14 customers a day

Some of you may be hesitant to do this because your perception is that hiring another advisor will simply increase your personnel expenses. Instead, you should calculate how much that extra advisor will increase your gross profits on labor and parts through the following benefits:

1. All four advisors now have more time to spend with each customer, both on the phone and in person
2. More time spent means better feature/benefit presentations to the customer
3. Better presentations by your advisors means a higher closing ratio on upsells
4. A higher closing ratio means increased labor and parts sales and higher gross profits
5. Increased labor and parts sales creates a higher HPRO
6. Increased HPRO results in higher technician productivity
7. Higher gross profits increases service absorption
8. More time spent per customer results in a higher CSI and owner retention

As a result of these benefits, you can easily see how adding one more advisor creates a very small increase in payroll expense while producing a very high ROI with new found gross profits. So, I ask you: Is hiring another Advisor an expense or an investment? By the way, make sure you compensate to motivate all of your advisors by using a pay plan that is based on individual performance for sales or gross profit plus CSI. This should equate to either 5 percent of parts and labor sales or about 10 percent of parts and labor gross profit on all repair orders written by each advisor.

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Next, you must have a training process to provide your fixed operations team with the skills they need to accomplish your goals as outlined in your plan. Each member of the management team must be trained to become better leaders and managers, first of all, by measuring the performance of all employees daily. Teach them how to hold accountability meetings and become the coach that every team needs. Advisors must be trained on the proper use of maintenance menus and feature benefit sales presentations while technicians must be schooled on the necessity of thorough multi-point inspections. These are not optional processes and everyone must be held accountable for compliance. Everyone. Remember, your customers deserve nothing less.

Once you have completed all these steps, you will have a profit improvement plan identifying all of your opportunities for improving your service and parts retail operations for years to come. For the past 17 years, we have found that dealers who follow this strategy have increased their parts and service gross profits by 30 to 40 percent in their first year of their plan. Get ready for change and prepare yourself to get committed to following your plan for a record year in net profit.

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If you need any help with designing a performance based pay plan, send me an email, to the address above and I will be glad to send you some examples of pay plans that produce Top Performers while protecting the Dealer from paying too much and insures the Advisor is paid fairly.

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