“I want you to come to grips with the concept that training can solve most any problem. Training can give you a higher return on your capital investment! Training can generate more bang for your working capital buck! Training can reduce employee turnover! Training can improve closing ratios and increase owner retention! Training will generate more net profit! Think about it!” — Don Reed, CEO DealerPRO Training
Why Training Is the Key
You just hired a new payroll clerk who has five years of payroll experience using one brand’s system, however, your payroll system is on another. What do you do? You train that clerk how to use your computer system and within a few days your payroll process is back to normal.
You just lost your top F&I producer and you have this successful salesperson who has always wanted to move into F&I, so you do the right thing and offer him the position. You know that in order for him to be successful in producing F&I income he must have some training on how to become a top producer in F&I. So, of course, you send him to a professional F&I training class, right?
This Applies to Service, Too!
Now, how about that service advisor you just hired from the competition down the street (big mistake), who is supposed to reverse your falling CSI, stop your declining repair order count and increase sales. Obviously achieving those worthy goals will require a lot of communication and sales skills, so clearly you will also seek out a professional to train this new advisor, right? Right? Not so much?
OK, so now you’re starting to get the picture I’m painting here regarding training. This trained advisor will be able go to work each day to focus on achieving the goals that you have given him/her: reverse your falling CSI, stop your declining repair order count and increase sales.
All three of these can be accomplished by your advisor simply training your customers. It all starts with the first oil change. Let me explain.
The Good Old Days Really Were
When I was a service advisor way back in the ’70s (I was very young), the manufacturers actually helped me train my customers. That’s right! Every customer was given a maintenance booklet that resembled a checkbook with coupons about the size of a check. The customer was required to complete all of the required maintenance items listed on each coupon. As an advisor, I would remove the coupon upon completion of the service, attach it to the hard copy of the RO and validate the coupon stub with my dealership stamp and date.
Upon delivering the vehicle back to my customer I would review what was required on the next coupon and explain when that next service would be due and how these services were required by the manufacturer in order to maintain their manufacturer’s warranty. Guess what? It worked like a charm. I mean my customers would walk up to me with their keys and their maintenance booklet in hand and state something like: “Hi Don, I’m here for my 15,000-mile service.”
Built-in CSI & Owner Retention
When they came back to pick up their vehicle, I reviewed the 18,000-mile service. In those days the required service intervals were every 3,000 miles for the life of the vehicle. I had very happy customers (CSI) because their vehicles were properly maintained; my repair order count continued to climb each month and, of course, so did our sales. So, why can’t we use this same process in today’s service departments? The answer is: “We can!” Do you realize that this kind of training is exactly what the aftermarket quick lube centers are doing with your customers?
Starting today, ask each of your advisors what maintenance your respective manufacturer requires. I’m betting they don’t know. If that is the case then require them to read the warranty book and they will find the words required maintenance. So, wouldn’t it be a novel idea to advise each and every customer on each and every visit to your service department what the required maintenance is for their respective vehicle?
Ask & You Shall Receive
If you did so and they said yes, do you think they would be driving a more reliable vehicle? The people who build the vehicles think so! If they have a more reliable vehicle will your CSI improve? Yep! If your CSI improves will your customers keep coming back? Most likely, yes! If you advise them on what is required next and when it is due will even more of them come back? Probably! If more customers return for more required maintenance would it be a good idea to offer them recommendations for additional maintenance based on your local driving conditions and their individual driving habits? Absolutely!
Now, what are the benefits of following this simple process from the ’70s? Your CSI goes up, your repair order count goes up and your sales go up along with a nice steady supply of repeat customers for your sales department.
Did someone say “sell more cars?” Isn’t it about time you get serious about service and start training your service customers?