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Invest Your Training Budget Wisely

Let’s face it: With profit margins on new and used car sales diminishing every year, it’s fair to say that your service department is a big part of your profitability and critical to your customer retention.


Sally Whitesell is president of sw Service Solutions, which offers in-store training nationwide and Fixed Ops University; engaging online training for managers and service advisors. Sally brings over 21 years of on-the-drive experience to her training, seminars and books, which include her highly sought after “What Drives Women?” program and her book, “Words That Sell Service.” And new for 2019: the ultimate sales tool: the sw Service Solutions Maximizing Menu.

Most dealerships spend a lot of time and money consistently training their sales departments with strict guidelines and processes in place. Yet developing a process and training for your service team is a critical element that most dealerships let fall by the wayside. For instance:

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· Would you ever consider letting a member of your sales team on the floor to sell cars without any training?

· Could your sales team sell cars without knowing the features and benefits as well as your road to the sale?

Your average sales team member is lucky to see five potential clients a day while one service advisor can see 30 or more. This makes them the most important customer relations representative in your dealership. Why wouldn’t you make training your service advisors just as high of a priority as training your sales team? Shouldn’t it at least be a 50/50 split? Let’s face it: With profit margins on new and used car sales diminishing every year, it’s fair to say that your service department is a big part of your profitability and critical to your customer retention. If you haven’t trained your service team in the past, here’s a simple list to help you get started:

· Do you have a company mission statement that everyone can quote? Yes I know, it’s on the wall — but does everyone know it, believe in it and strive to accomplish it?

· Do you have training resources available for your staff to easily develop or review? Most service managers do not have the time or the skills to develop a training programs, so a resource to supply training material is just as important to them as it is to your sales managers.


· Does your training program consistently teach your team communication skills along with how to excel in their careers delivering higher hours per RO, effective labor rates and customer pay?

· Does your service team have weekly meetings, role-plays, incentives and rewards for outstanding performance?

· Is your shop staffed according to your current levels of production and can they handle getting the work done in a timely manner?

· Do you have leaders and management staff in the right positions to deliver your consistent message, motivate your team, keep your morale up and develop long-term employees?

· Have you ever held personal and professional goal meetings with your advisors one on one?

The service, sales and parts departments should work together as a team. Joint teamwork meetings or special events are effective ways to accomplish building these relationships.

Many dealerships have a “separate department” mentality that feels like they’re working against each other instead of working with each other. Have you ever thought of having an incentive program that involves both departments? Be creative and make training fun and interesting. After a while, it will become second nature to you and your team and the results will make it well worth the effort. Service drives need a continuous training program that works.

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